~ A Picture of Jesus Christ ~
Joshua is one of the most striking men in the Bible and is a “type” of our Lord Jesus Christ. A type in the Bible is a picture of something else. While much of what we learn about Joshua is found in the book of Joshua, we also learn about him in many other places in Scripture. Here are some examples of how Joshua is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ.
His Name ~ It was Moses who renamed Hosea as Joshua. In Hebrew Joshua (Yehoshua or Yeshua) means “the Lord saves” or “Jehovah is Salvation.” In Greek his name is translated “Jesus” and the message of the book of Joshua is that “Jesus saves.” Note, however, that Joshua was a temporary savior and Christ is the only true Savior who saves eternally.
The Succession ~ Moses was “a friend of God” who gave the Law and Joshua is his replacement. The Bible teaches that the Gospel of Jesus Christ succeeds the Law. But first Joshua was a servant to Moses, and we find that Christ came to earth under the law and was obedient to it in every way. Joshua replaced Moses—Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Law (Romans 8:2-4; Galatians 3:23-25). Joshua led the people into God’s promised covenant blessing—Christ gives us the blessing of salvation.
His Destiny ~ Joshua was born a slave in Egypt and knew he was an ordinary man. The Exodus occurred when he was about 40 years old. For the next 40 years he wandered in the desert with the Israelites. Joshua’s life was remarkable as he received direct encouragement from God. “Be strong and of good courage” occurs multiple times in the opening chapter of Joshua (verses 6, 7, 9, 18). He witnessed the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea (Joshua 4) and saw the incarnate Christ (Joshua 5:13). While Jesus was no ordinary man, He too spent time in the wilderness. He relied on and gained His strength from God His Father. While on earth He performed many miracles.
His Life ~ Scripture declares that only One man was sinless, but Joshua is one of very few Biblical personalities with little sin recorded in Scripture. His recorded life was nearly unblemished. Jesus was the One who actually lived a sinless life.
His Character ~ Joshua was clearly a servant-leader, which is the essence of true spiritual leadership. In so many of his virtues (trustworthy, diligent, courageous, wise, a man of integrity, etc.) he was a foreshadowing of Jesus who was to come. Perhaps most importantly, Joshua carried out the will of his master—Christ was devoted to the will of His Father (John 6:38). Consider just a few of Joshua’s character traits:
Humility ~ There is no record of Joshua ever promoting his self-interests or seeking honor—he knew he was God’s servant and relied on God for his strength. He wanted victory for the Lord—Jesus said, “Father, glorify Thy name” (John 12:28).
Obedience ~ Joshua’s diligence to follow the law of Moses was a key factor in his personality and success. The concept of blessing following obedience is a common theme throughout the Old Testament. Jesus displayed ultimate obedience during His life, culminating in obedience even unto death (Philippians 2:8).
Consistency ~ As Joshua followed the will of God for him, he was willing to take an unpopular position. For example, it was only Joshua and Caleb of the twelve spies who recommended obedience to God (Numbers 13:17-14:10). Joshua’s consistent acknowledgement of truth even when it was unpopular is another parallel with Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:3; Mark 14:50).
Faith ~ During the time of the wilderness wanderings Joshua was a faithful aide to Moses as he observed faith in action. Later faced with overwhelming odds, Joshua by faith led the Israelite army in its conquest of the promised land. Joshua’s great accomplishments were largely due to his unwavering faith and commitment to his God. Jesus Christ maintained complete faith in His Father and acted on that faith.
His Strength ~ Knowing God’s will provides great confidence and strength for whatever task God has given. Joshua knew what God desired of him (Joshua 1:9) and obeyed God’s will. Jesus Christ and the Father are one, but it is clear that Jesus always obeyed the Father’s will (Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 22:42).
His Fellowship ~ Joshua was intimate with God—he thrived on fellowship with God. He sought opportunities to be in God’s presence (for example Exodus 24:13). In the Gospels we find that Jesus often left the crowds in order to find solitude in prayer and communion with His Father. As Joshua led the Israelites in the Old Testament, Jesus leads God’s people in the New Testament.
His Ministry ~ Joshua and Jesus were both servants. Both were willing to do whatever it took to accomplish God’s purposes on earth. Both were givers rather than takers. Both were channels of blessing from God.
His Task ~ Joshua was told, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Jesus tells us today, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). We can have confidence in the Great Commission because of the example of Jesus on earth being empowered by the Father.
His Leadership ~ Joshua governed Israel as their commander-in-chief with God-given wisdom, courage, and integrity. Jesus, our commander-in-chief, displayed the ultimate in all virtues and is the Captain of our Salvation.
His Power ~ Joshua led the people through the power of the Holy Spirit operating in his life. Jesus Christ as a member of the Trinity was empowered by yielding to the Spirit as He went about doing the will of His Father.
His Deeds ~ Joshua’s accomplishments were due to his trust in God for all aspects of his life. Joshua led the Israelites through the river Jordan—Jesus leads us through the difficult places in our lives. Joshua saved the prostitute Rahab—Jesus saves the worst of sinners. Joshua accepted the Gibeonites—Jesus receives all who come to Him. Joshua conquered the kings of the Canaanites—Jesus conquers sin, our flesh, and the world’s influence in our lives (Romans 8:37).
The Final Result ~ The biggest accomplishment of Joshua and perhaps the place where he is the clearest type of our Lord Jesus is that he brought the people into the land of Canaan—a place of rest! Jesus brings us into the place of true rest both in this life and for eternity. Joshua brought a temporal rest (Hebrews 4:8)—Jesus brings an eternal rest. Canaan is a type of the kingdom of God which ultimately will be the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21). We have a spiritual rest while on earth—our permanent and complete rest will be in the New Jerusalem. Our rest was accomplished and finalized by Jesus on the Cross when He declared “It is finished!” (John 19:30.)
Key Observation ~ During Joshua’s day many Israelites died during the wilderness wanderings because they refused to listen to and obey the commands of God. Even though they saw His mighty works on their behalf, they did not yield to His authority. They failed to enter into the promised land and rest from the journey. There is a parallel situation today. Many refuse to listen to the Gospel message and accept Jesus Christ as their only source of salvation. Unless their hearts are softened, they cannot enter into spiritual rest and eternal salvation (Hebrews 4:6-12). Salvation comes by faith in Christ—not by our own good deeds. The result of faith in Christ is rest both now and eternally. This is the most important lesson to be learned from Joshua as a type of Jesus Christ.
Summary ~ Joshua is the key person in the Biblical book of Joshua. But the narrative is more about Jesus Christ and His great salvation than it is about Joshua and his obedience. The book is about victorious living on earth. While Joshua was a role model of victorious living on earth, Jesus was the ultimate supreme example of a life pleasing to God the Father. We can live on earth in the power of the Holy Spirit today. The first twelve chapters of the book of Joshua present great truths and the reality that life on earth is a battle. The rest of the book illustrates how to deal with life’s difficulties after we have received divine truth. God has given us everything we need for victorious living now (2 Peter 1:3-4).
ADDITIONAL COMMENT: Joshua was a human who had his flaws, but because of his overall desire and pursuit of God, Scripture records little of his failures. He was a true servant-leader who was a picture of the ultimate servant-leader, Jesus, who was yet to come. While Joshua was a single individual, he represents many “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38).
PERSONAL COMMENT: My grandson—Joshua—becomes a teenager today. Josh, this posting is dedicated to you!
~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW