The mantle of leadership passed to Joshua, a faithful servant of Moses, in approximately 1400 B.C. Joshua had witnessed deliverance from Egypt and served as a military leader in battle for Moses. He alone accompanied Moses when he went up Mount Sinai to receive the Commandments, and had intense devotion to God, often staying in God’s presence after Moses left the tabernacle (Exodus 33:11). Together with Caleb, he resisted a negative report of other spies at Kadesh. Joshua’s name (Hebrew Yeshua) is equivalent to Jesus in the NT, and means ‘the Lord is salvation.’ Like Moses he is a type of Jesus leading God’s people into a promised land and victory over enemies. The LORD even said to Joshua, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you: I will not fail you, nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).
Hebrews quotes these words about never leaving or forsaking a believer, and adds, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:5,8). Joshua received assurance of victory over the nations inhabiting Canaan providing Joshua “observe to do according to all the law, which Moses My servant commanded you: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7). Crossing the Jordan and entering the promised land does not represent entering heaven as certain old spiritual songs imply. The Israelites, a covenant people, would enter a land of enemies with obstacles to overcome but where victorious life was to be their inheritance. The condition for this was living in obedience to the ways of God. If disobedient, affliction and even dispersion to other nations could be expected to take place.
The Israelites entering the promised land is a pattern for living under the new covenant. Believers in Christ are delivered from bondage to sin, from the world of which Egypt is a type, and from Satan of whom Pharaoh is a type. Under the new covenant, believers are redeemed by the blood of our Passover lamb Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7) just as the Israelites were redeemed by the Passover. Our heavenly Father has “delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, to whom we have redemption through His blood” (Colossians 1:13,14).
Just as the Israelites were to enter their inheritance and conquer enemy nations inhabiting the land, those “in Christ” are to fight the good fight of faith to inherit eternal rest. Under both covenants, people are to work out salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Christians are not guaranteed to remain under God’s blessing short of obedience any more than the Israelites were guaranteed ‘once saved, always saved’ short of their living in accordance to the will of God.
Not every one that says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven…..” Matthew 7:21-27
Just as the events surrounding the Passover are a type of redemption by coming to Jesus Christ by grace through faith, the events surrounding entrance into the promised land are a type of life under the new covenant. Like the Hebrews, believers in Jesus today are faced with enemies who will persecute those having faith in God. This is so dramatically seen in Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist denominated countries where the Christians not only suffer but are killed for their faith. The heathen nations inhabiting Canaan against whom Israel would wage war likewise represent a kingdom of evil under the rule of Satan as described by the apostle: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, again the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12). For further discussion on this subject, please see Spiritual Warfare lessons on this website.
According to the admonitions of Moses and Joshua, the Israelites consecrated themselves and renewed covenant with God in preparing to cross the Jordan. They promised to obey all God commanded exactly as done at Sinai when they initially received the law and the commandments. This points to a principle that God will not work powerfully on behalf of His people if they do not align themselves to His will. Just as an act of faith was required when Moses stretched out the rod of God over the Red Sea to part the waters, so an act of faith was required at the Jordan. The river was running at flood stage until the feet of the priests carrying the ark touched the water. Immediately flow of water stopped upstream and those carrying the ark stood in the middle of the Jordan on dry ground until all the people had crossed (Joshua 3:17). When the priests carrying the ark came up from the river bed, water resumed its flow and overflowed the banks as before (4:18).