FROM MOSES TO JOSHUA
Copyright © 2013 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
(“From Moses to Joshua” is taken from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson, copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson)
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Some passages of Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. (Joshua 1:2—NASB)
“Moses my servant is dead.” What would such a statement mean to the Israelites? To Joshua?
I do not know what new and surprising things are ahead of us. But I am expecting them. In my mind, there is no question that many American churches are preaching death, that is, “lawless grace, any-moment rapture, and eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven.” This is what people tell me is being taught across the country. They are looking for a church that teaches the Bible, not these unscriptural traditions.
Thinking in terms of the Book of Joshua, what does Canaan, the land of promise, typify? What does the Jordan River typify? These are important questions, because they typify our entrance into the rest of God, the subject of the Book of Hebrews.
Traditionally the Jordan River represents our physical death, and Canaan represents Heaven. I will tell you what I believe they represent, and you can decide which viewpoint you prefer.
The Jordan River represents death to self, to our “I will.” Coming out of Egypt is death to the world, while Mount Sinai represents death to sin. Death to the world, to sin, and to self. These three deaths are the necessary foundation for resurrection into the fullness of eternal life when Christ appears.
Canaan is our objective. It represents the rest of God. All enemies have been subdued. We have been conformed to the image of Christ. We are dwelling in untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will. God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are dwelling in untroubled rest in us. Now we are ready to be coheirs along with the Lord Jesus of the works of God’s hands—especially the nations of people and the farthest reaches of the earth.
After the Jordan was crossed, the manna ceased and the Israelites ate some of the produce of the land. This means the daily grace we are accustomed to stops and in its place we are eating the solid food of the Throne of God which is being created in us. This takes place after we choose to die to our own will, our self-determination, and obey Jesus Christ in every detail of our life.
Also, the new generation was circumcised. It is time now for a new generation of Christians to return to the holiness of former years. We must, as the Spirit of God leads us, purify ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. When we decide to die to our own will, our judgment begins. Little by little the Holy Spirit points out the sinful impulses in our flesh and spirit. Then we are to turn away from these impulses. Christ will forgive each sin confessed and help us kill it.
The rest of God, the inheritance we are approaching, is filled with the enemies of God. Therefore we are facing a prolonged, vicious fight. Each of us as an individual will be attacked by wicked spirits in the world and unclean spirits dwelling in our flesh. Satan is determined that we shall not enter our inheritance in Christ.
Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. (Joshua 1:3—NASB)
We have to “set our foot” on our inheritance, and then God will give it to us. How do we know what our inheritance is? It is first Christ, people, and all the works of God’s hands. After that it becomes a personal inheritance, depending on the individual Christian. We have to pray without ceasing, as it were, asking God to reveal to us our destiny determined from the beginning of the world. As Paul said, we have to grasp that for which we have been grasped by the Lord Jesus. Immortality in the body is included in our inheritance.
So it is time to learn spiritual warfare. Christ will teach us how to defend ourselves against the attacks of the enemy; but we must be ever watchful in prayer, and we must be sternly obedient to the Lord Jesus when we know what He wants us to do.
I understand that we would like to go on the offensive and “win the world for Jesus.” Perhaps some people have such a calling. But for most of us it is a patient waiting on the Lord Jesus as He shows us step by step what we are to do, and how to overcome the resistance and pressure exerted by our enemies.
There comes a time when “the enemy is too strong for us,” as King David said. Today this is true in America. Because we did not value the nation that had been handed to us by the pioneers, and chose the ways of the flesh, God is removing his hand from us. Now we are facing evil such as we never thought to see in our country.
Well intentioned political and other physical efforts will not avail. We are being attacked by highly placed rulers in the spirit world. We cannot just charge out and defeat them. Only Jesus—only Jesus—has the authority and power necessary to overcome Satan. Jesus is willing to help us survive in the America of the next decade. But we personally must turn away from our own plans and desires and look to Christ for every step.
Some will survive spiritually in the coming days, but it will be only those who are trusting in Jesus at every moment of the day and night. Our armed forces, as brave as they are, cannot help us when God is not with them. And God will not help them when our nation condones abortion and sexual perversions.
Another problem is the entrance of foreign gods into our land—gods which actually are not gods. Only our Lord Jesus Christ and his Father are the true Gods of Heaven, and we are to worship and serve them only. To tolerate the worship of other gods is not acceptable and will bring ruin on us as it has on the nations that worship them.
Difficult times ahead in America. No doubt about that. But Christ is greater than all the problems we are facing, and will help everyone who calls on Him for assistance.
Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. (Joshua 1:2—NASB)
No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. (Joshua 1:5—NASB)
The death of Moses and the appointing of Joshua as the leader of Israel was as great a change as could be imagined. There do come changes in God’s eternal plan. We are in such change today.
Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. (Isaiah 43:18—NASB)
What is the nature of the change that is occurring now? The change has to do with the phase of redemption we are entering. Up to the present hour the Christians have experienced the blood atonement, repentance and water baptism, the born-again experience, and the various ministrations of the Spirit of God.
Now we are to build on what has gone before. It is the same God, the same Christ, the same Holy Spirit, the same Bible. But it is not the same wandering in a wilderness while looking backward. Now we are to look forward. Our task now as Christians is to follow the Spirit of God into the promised rest, the inheritance, the goal toward which our redemption is bringing us.
Our inheritance is not eternal residence in Heaven. Our inheritance consists of rest in the center of God’s Person and will; change into the inner and outer image of the Lord Jesus Christ; plus whatever individual goal that is part of our destiny. Of special importance is the inheritance of the people whom we are to serve as a member of the Royal Priesthood; also the farthest reaches of the earth.
This promised rest, this inheritance, is occupied by demons. So we are going to have to fight in order to lay hold on that which God has promised us.
Christ is coming to us now as the Lord, mighty in battle. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of the Blowing of Trumpets.
The Spirit of God is prepared to cleanse us from all trust in the world, all the aspects of our sinful nature, and self-will. Every part of our personality that is not perfectly reconciled to God, that is not in perfect harmony with the Father, must be dealt with until all obstacles to our rest in him, and his rest in us, have been removed. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement.
The final result of God’s present dealing with us will be the dwelling of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in us. This is what God desires. Hopefully this is what we desire. If we do not want to be filled with all the fullness of God, we are wise if we immediately make the possession of such a desire our continual prayer. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.
We are entering spiritual warfare. The spiritual warfare is reflected in the physical warfare in which the nations of the earth currently are engaging.
I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. (Joshua 1:3.4—NIV)
In the passage above we see the two aspects of moving forward with God. First, God will give us every place we set our foot. Second, God very specifically tells us where to place our feet.
It is taught currently that Christ has done everything concerning our salvation. All we have to do is believe that He has done everything. This is not at all true. As Paul said, we are to grasp that for which we have been grasped. The true Christian experience of redemption is that of ceaselessly pressing forward toward the mark.
We are in an unrelenting warfare as we seek to move forward in Christ. There is no vacation from this pressing forward until the day we die; and for all I know, the need to press forward in Christ may continue after we die.
The Word speaks of the Body of Christ being brought to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, of a Church without spot or wrinkle. We know that the Word always is fulfilled perfectly and totally. Would anyone want to claim that such maturity is gained in the present world?
There are elements in our personality that vigorously resist our finding perfect rest in the Person and will of God; and resist also a change from our adamic image to the image of Christ.
What passage of the Bible supports the idea that when we die physically we automatically are at rest in God’s Person and are changed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ?
After all, sin began in Heaven when Satan, one of the two cherubim that guarded the Throne of God, decided he wanted to take God’s place. What is to prevent a person or an angel from doing this in the future? I can see men on the earth today who are trying to usurp the place of God!
We have to “place our feet.” Christ has not done it all for us. Also, we need to know where to place our feet. Knowing where to march must come to us at all times from the Spirit of God. We are not to guess at our inheritance. We are to follow the Spirit as He leads us in putting to death the lusts and actions of our sinful nature.
Each member of the Royal Priesthood has had, from the creation of the world, a specific commission. He or she has been called according to God’s purpose. As long as the individual is pressing forward as led by the Spirit of God, all things of world history are working for the good of him or her.
I cannot emphasize too strongly that we absolutely must keep ourselves in the place where we are denying ourselves and following Christ. He is our Joshua, our Commander in Chief. We cannot possibly enter the rest of God in our own wisdom and strength. We must remain in Christ, in his Presence, at all times.
The wickedness in the world is increasing every day. The enemy is too wise and strong for us. All of our notions of how we are going to remove the abominations are useless. Only the Lord Jesus Christ is wiser and stronger than the enemy who is operating today in our own country as well as other countries. We will be only as successful in conquering our enemy to the extent we are dwelling in Christ.
When we review the events that occurred as Joshua led the Israelites against the Canaanites, we can see that victory was gained only as the Israelite army obeyed the Lord, as He led them from city to city.
Joshua’s only failure occurred in the case of the Gibeonites. Joshua did not ask the Lord, he assumed the Gibeonites were telling the truth. If we are going to be successful in spiritual battle we must learn never to take anything for granted. We are to look to the Lord about everything.
No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5—NASB)
There is no power of Satan that can prevent our gaining the fullness of our inheritance. But this is true only as we are obeying Christ diligently. We are not to do, as some are suggesting, “put on our administrative hat” and go about challenging the powers of Hell. We are to move only as directed by the Spirit of God.
We now are at the end of the Church Age. God is facing Satan. The conflict is between titans, whereas we are only dust. We always must keep in mind that Christ never will leave us or forsake us. No matter how grim and dark our situation may become at times. no matter how we feel, Christ will never leave us in the hands of the enemy. If we are faithful to him, He will be faithful to us.
I do not say Christ will remain with us if we act carelessly or foolishly. Today is no time to be careless or foolish as we prepare to enter the inheritance promised to us.
Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. (Joshua 1:6—NASB)
Notice the emphasis on strength and courage. The fearful will not be able to gain their inheritance. Why is this? It is because fear is an indication that we do not trust God’s ability, or his love, or his good intentions toward us. Remember how the Israelites were turned back into the wilderness.
The preaching of the “rapture” includes the idea that the believers in Christ will escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. It is a doctrine that encourages the Christians to be afraid of Satan. There is no thought of standing in the evil day, only of escape from the forces of Hell.
The doctrine of the “rapture,” as taught commonly, is not of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is leaving the Christian people unprepared for the spiritual darkness on the horizon—that even now is entering our country. God would have us confident in Him that He will make us more than conquerors in Christ.
We have been commanded to be strong and courageous. Christ is the epitome of strength and courage and He desires that we be like Him. At what time we feel fear attempting to master us we are to call on Christ. He will share his perfect courage and strength with us.
Remember, we cannot cower in fear believing that God will feel sorry for us. He won’t. He is a king. We are his sons. He expects us to act like sons of the Greatest of all kings. We just have to pray until we gain the strength and courage we need to face the problems of the day. They will be given to us! But if we yield to fearfulness and unbelief we will suffer for it, and perhaps lose part or all of our inheritance.
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. (Joshua 1:7,8—NIV)
The passage above was given to me by some fellow Marines when I first became a Christian. These Marines were followers of Dawson Trotman. They placed great emphasis on learning the Word; memorizing the Word. I have never forgotten this emphasis.
Since I got out of the Marine Corps I have retained that reverence for the written Word. But I have found that many churches are preaching their traditions rather than the written Word. I have spent a good part of my adult life seeking to point out where the current evangelical preaching, such as the doctrine of the “pre-tribulation rapture,” is not scriptural.
Without a doubt, the worst of all errors is that all we are to do is believe that Christ has done everything for us. Consequently numerous Christian people are waiting for an unscriptural “rapture” that will carry them up to Heaven before the Day of Resurrection. There is nothing for them to do but wait for this event. Can you imagine such blindness!
Such an attitude toward the Christian redemption is so totally unscriptural that one can only marvel that any believer has accepted this point of view.
Following is the scriptural attitude, the attitude we should be taking toward our salvation:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (I Corinthians 9:24-27—NIV)
Does the above sound like the current preaching of “Christ did it all” and all we are to do is believe that Christ did it all? Do you see any inkling that God sees us through Christ and his grace excuses our indifference and disobedience.
No, the passage does not fit the current emphasis in so many instances.
I believe there are preachers of today who see that we have departed grievously from the written Word of God, from the teaching of the Apostles. Hopefully they will convince numerous believers to turn away from the “grace-rapture-Heaven” teaching and begin to “run in such a way as to attain to the prize.”
So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: ‘Go through the camp and tell the people, Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.’ (Joshua 1:10,11—NIV)
I suppose it has been true throughout the history of the world that there have been various religions, and then a handful of people who really walk with God and hear from God. So it is today, in America at least, that there are millions of religious people, mostly Christians but also of other religions and sects.
But I think I am correct in saying that only a few people are walking with God and hearing from God. Sometimes these are referred to as a “remnant.”
If I am accurate, we are at a very significant time in the program of redemption. The Bible seems to be becoming more clear. We can see several unscriptural traditions being emphasized, such as the doctrine that Divine grace is an alternative to growth in righteous behavior.
In the first chapter of the Book of Joshua, God told the Israelites that they would possess every place they put their feet. This was confined to a specific area of land. So it is today. The current teaching that Christ did it all and our task merely is to believe is utterly false, and works against the continual pressing forward in Christ, which is the normal Christian experience.
An emphasis was placed on the fact that no enemy would be able to stand against the Israelite army. But they suffered some defeats: first, when Achan sinned; and then because Joshua did not pray when the Gibeonites came. Later they were not diligent to destroy all the inhabitants of an area, and, as the Lord told them would happen, they gradually fell into the ways of the Canaanites whom they permitted to live among them.
Two destructive sins characterized the Israelites: lack of diligence, and unbelief.
God would have given them total victory. But they did not have the faith to believe, and so they finally were overcome by the Assyrians and the Babylonians.
What a lesson that is for us today. We keep being told that it is not necessary, nor even possible, to overcome sin while we are in the world. We are trusting that physical death will be our redeemer and we will be set free to go to live in a mansion in Heaven. The result is, the churches in America are not strong enough to overcome the increasing immorality in our country. Even the ministers are falling into sexual sin.
No enemy possibly can stand before us when we are following the Lord Jesus Christ and obeying Him perfectly and completely.
Another emphasis in the first chapter of the Book of Joshua is that placed upon reading, meditating in, and obeying the Bible strictly. Victory in Jesus is not possible when we are preaching unscriptural traditions rather than what is written in the Bible.
Following are three of the unscriptural traditions that are rehearsed every Sunday in many (perhaps the majority) of the Christian churches in America:
The most destructive of the unscriptural traditions is that we are in a new dispensation of grace. Paul preached that grace is a substitute for the Law of Moses, not a new dispensation. We have made grace a substitute for growth in godly behavior. This misinterpretation does away with the bulk of Paul’s admonition to the churches.
Another longstanding tradition is that being saved means we will go to Heaven when we die and live eternally in a mansion. Heaven is viewed as our “Canaan.” The truth is, being saved means we will be saved from wrath and brought over to eternal life on the new earth.
In addition, for the members of the Royal Priesthood, being saved means we will be completely set free from sin and self-will and filled with all the fullness of God. This is the message that is to be preached to members of the Church.
The Gospel of saved from wrath and brought over to eternal life on the new earth is not primarily for the Royal Priesthood but for those from the nations whom God has not elected to be members of the Priesthood.
The message to the members of the Church, the Royal Priesthood, is found in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians. It is that we are to turn away from the things of the world and lay hold on that for which God has laid hold on us, always pressing forward to the fullness of Christ. On the other hand, the primary message to the people of the world is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” Also they are to refrain from living in sin; but the demands of consecration are not as severe as is true of God’s Royal Priesthood.
The message to the members of the Church often is not preached, as the Christian leaders in their blindness spend most of their effort trying to get everyone in the world “saved.” As a result they minimize the demands of discipleship. Meanwhile, those whom God has called to the Royal Priesthood are not given the nourishing food of the Word.
A third unscriptural tradition, the doctrine of the pre-tribulation “rapture” into Heaven of the believers is preventing God’s people from taking seriously the need to prepare themselves to stand in Christ during the coming evil days. It may be true that this fanciful belief will fall of its own weight in the coming dark days.
Joshua told the people to get ready to cross the Jordan and take possession of the promised land. God had given them a description of the land He had given them for an inheritance.
God has told us of the “land” we are to inherit:
- The fullness of the indwelling of God such that we are living in perfect, complete harmony in God’s Person and will.
- Change into the inward moral character of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then change into the external image of Christ. I think the external change will begin when the Lord next appears, and then develop throughout the coming ages of ages. Image, and also inner likeness.
- The people whom God saves from the nations of the earth are our inheritance, whom we will serve as governing priests.
- Finally, all the works of God’s hands. That includes all of the present earth. Then the new earth. Then whatever God creates after that.
Such is our true, scriptural inheritance. Because we are not hearing from God, we have changed our inheritance into eternal rest in the spirit world, doing nothing of importance; having no problems or projects to pursue. Luminous spirits in eternal rest in a large mansion situated on a golden street.
God created a garden. We created mansions.
The truth of the matter is, most people would rather be reunited with their loved ones than be a luminous spirit in eternal rest in a mansion on a golden street.
The issue in the present hour is the need to prepare to enter our inheritance.
There always are distractions to prevent people from learning to walk humbly with the Lord Jesus. In America in the present hour we have at least two major distractions. First, are the increasingly fascinating electronic devices, aids to communication. As Thoreau said, “improved means to unimproved ends.”
The second major distraction is the political turmoil. Millions of Christians are concerned with the direction the government is taking the country. For myself, I do not like what I am seeing in America or England. I am accustomed o the America I was raised in, with the English cultural influence (but not the English culture of today, however!).
I have the typical conservative dislike of strong central government. But then, Christianity was born in an empire, not a democracy; which tells me that God’s work can be done under any kind of government.
God is speaking to us today to get rid of our sins and begin to follow Jesus Christ into our inheritance. I do not know about you, but Jesus is not speaking to me about the present political situation.
Let’s pretend that at the midterm election (November, 2010) the Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress and begin to dismantle the hated programs sponsored by the Democrats. Let’s pretend further that it is proven the President was not born in America, and he is thrown out of office and a fervent conservative person takes his place. Hurrah many would shout!
Now what. The Christians will relax, believing that happy days are here again. Then they will return to their late-night blasphemous comedians, X-rated movies, acceptance of mosques in their neighborhood, abortions, child molestations, gossip, envy, drunkenness, haughtiness, and especially bizarre sexual practices.
As long as the Democrats continue their tax-and-spend policies, the conservative people will be up in arms. But once that pressure is off, and we have a return to a more conservative government, then the passions of the flesh in the Christians will take over. Finally God will step in, and much blood will be shed in our country.
I find abominable the moral values of the present government, the lying and deceit that are present. But occupying ourselves with political reform distracts us from what Christ is emphasizing. At least to me, Christ is not emphasizing political reform. Rather He is pressing me to tell God’s people to draw closer to himself so they will be able to stand in Him during the coming chaotic days in the United States of America.
Prepare yourselves with prayer and meditation in the Bible. Be sternly obedient to whatever the Lord is saying to you. Christ is ready to lead his Church into their inheritance. He will do this in the midst of the troubles in the world. He will set a table before us in the presence of our enemies.
We are not to be distracted by anything we hear or see. We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus with singleness of heart. Then we will be able to stand and to help others to stand throughout the period of great evil that is to descend on our country.
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. (Joshua 1:8—NASB)
(“From Moses to Joshua”, 3520-1)