Friday, January 22, 2016

The Structure of Joshua, the 6th Book of the Bible


Joshua, the 6th book, acts as the 6th Hebrew letter "vav" does in that it links the first 5 books of Moses, which lead Israel up to Canaan, with the 12 succeeding books, which cover Israel’s history inside Canaan.
Joshua’s name means salvation. In Hebrew it is Y’hoshua, the 1st of the 12 books of OT history.
Joshua records the consummation of the redemption of Israel out of Egypt. The book is divided into 4 parts: the conquest, the partition of the inheritance, developing discord, and Joshua’s last counsels and his death.
Joshua records the passage of Israel from the wilderness where they wandered forty years to the Promised Land. There is powerful symbolism here. Moses the Lawgiver died, and Joshua, whose name is the equivalent of Jesus, led them through the “baptism” in the Jordan into the Promised Land. Does it sound like the gospel? Joshua was a helper to Moses. He led the army against the Amalekites. He went with Moses up Sinai mountain when God gave instructions about the ark. He was one of 12 who Moses sent in secret to look at the Promised Land. Only Joshua and Caleb brought good news back. Joshua had faith that God would provide.
Read Joshua 20: 1-6 and think about how these cities of refuge compare to Jesus.
 1 Then the LORD said to Joshua: 2 “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, 3 so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. 4 When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. 5 If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought. 6 They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”  
The cities of refuge are like a picture of Jesus: We are all guilty. We have all sinned. We can go to Jesus as a place of refuge. He will forgive us. He will keep us safe. We must confess that we have sinned. We do not need to wait for the death of the high priest. Our high priest (Jesus) has died for us already. Our high priest became alive again. He argues our case for us before God.
Read vs. 7 & 8:
7 So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. 8 East of the Jordan (on the other side from Jericho) they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh.
The names of the cities of refuge are interesting. Kedesh means “right with God”. Jesus makes us to be right with God. Shechem means“shoulder”, Jesus cares about us, especially when we are weak. He is like a farmer who carries a young sheep on his shoulder. Hebron means “fellowship”, we have fellowship with God and with other Christians. Bezer, “a place of safety”, Jesus is our place of safety. Ramoth, “high places”, certainly you can see the symbolism here. And finally, Golan, which means “captive” or “exiles”; we are like exiles in this world.
This 6th book not only has a correlation witht he 6th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, but it also has a relationship to the 6th commandment in that the refuge cities relate to the 6th commandment, the unjust destruction of man (and man was created on the 6th day - how cool is that?).