Thoughts on the Book of Joshua: Joshua and Caleb Part 1

Joshua  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 12
This identification with God and His purposes and ways on the part of Moses and Aaron, and this twofold testimony on the part of Caleb and Joshua to the strength of His arm, and the delight of His heart in His people to bring them into the land, though adequate for faith, were insufficient to quell the rebellion. Separated as these four leaders were from all the congregation, and united in their confession of the one living and true God, He vindicated His witnesses; when the people bade stone them with stones, the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle, and He threatened them with pestilence and disinheritance. The intercession of Moses again prevailed against their sin, and they were sentenced to wander forty years in the wilderness, and to fall there. Moreover, the evil spies died of the plague, and the unbelieving generation was cut off. The confidence and repose of faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which characterized Joshua and Caleb as spies when they searched the good land, equally distinguished them as pilgrims in the wilderness throughout the forty years of their wanderings. Faith, which has to do with God alone, is not concerned about places and circumstances; it has simply to follow Him where He leads; the consequences are His care.
The forty years' pilgrimage inflicted upon the evil generation became a school time for the fuller qualifications of Joshua and Caleb when the set time should come for the crossing over Jordan, and for the settlement of the tribes in their inheritances. Moses and Aaron died in the wilderness; the high priest's garments were transferred and placed upon Eleazar as the successor of Aaron. Moreover, the Lord had given some of His spirit to Joshua, and Moses had laid his hands on him and put some of his honor upon him in the sight of all the congregation of Israel, that they might be obedient to him. Further, Joshua was to stand before Eleazar the priest, who was to ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim and Thummim before the Lord. "At his word shall they go out, and at his word shall they come in" (Numb. 27:2121And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. (Numbers 27:21)), and Moses did as the Lord commanded him; and he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the high priest, and gave him a charge.
The original leaders of the people did not continue by reason of death; each one died governmentally for his own sin committed at the waters of Meribah, where they failed to glorify God; and these have now given place to Joshua and Eleazar. Moses and the rod of Jehovah's power stretched out over land and sea in Egypt for the redemption of Israel form the bright record of God's actings in the book of Exodus, as does the rod of priestly grace in Numbers, by which Aaron put away their murmurings. When the wars of the Lord begin on the other side of Jordan, these rods are superseded by the captain of the Lord's host with His drawn sword, and by Joshua with his spear; and now that "the LORD of all the earth" (Josh. 3:1313And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap. (Joshua 3:13)) passes over before His people to put them into Canaan, Eleazar and the priests come into prominence. The ark of the covenant (in which was placed the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant -each to come out another day and be manifested in the Person of Christ and His offices in their perfection) was to precede the people in their journeyings, and to be the one object before their souls. "When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it." Josh. 3:33And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. (Joshua 3:3).
The faith of an individual like Caleb is no longer distinguished when confidence and courage mark the whole company of this newborn generation led forward by the Lord of all the earth in connection with the ark of the covenant borne by Eleazar the high priest and the Levites under the leadership of Joshua; so Jordan itself fled away from before the feet of the priests when they were dipped in the brim of its waters. The great city Jericho too fell down flat, and its giant walls also, before the ark after it had compassed about the city for seven days. In their onward progress, Jerusalem and its king, Adonizedek, with the other crowned heads, were all overcome, and hung upon five trees until the going down of the sun. Joshua is as great in his conflicts and victories against the enemies of God, as Moses was distinguished for his patience and meekness among the people of God. His jealousy for the Lord in removing the tabernacle away from the camp when the idolatry of the golden calf was in question, sanctioned as it was by the glory of the God of Israel, which appeared to him at the tent door and talked with him, was a day of remarkable moral character and beauty.
Perfect in its season as this act of Moses was, yet Joshua is equally distinguished in the day of Jerusalem's capture by the hosts of Israel. Joshua spoke to the Lord, and said. "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon" (chap. 10:12), until the people avenge themselves upon their enemies; "And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel." v. 14. The whole power of the enemy is broken up after one more battle. Now when Jabin the king of Hazor heard of these things, he gathered round himself the confederated nations of the north, south, east, and west, and came down like the sand which is upon the seashore for multitude against Israel, like the Gog and Magog nations of a future day (Ezekiel). These wars and their victories clear the way for peace. Though in chapter 11 Joshua made war a long time with all those kings, yet finally he "took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war." Chap. 11:23. In chapter 18, "The whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there: and the land was subdued before them."
Now Joshua was old and stricken in years, and he and Eleazar the priest cast lots at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in Shiloh, and distributed to the tribes their inheritances; so they made an end of dividing the country. God had thus overcome the enemy and established His people in the promised land, who were commanded to make no terms with the stragglers, but utterly to drive them out. Moreover, God had planted His tabernacle in Shiloh, and surrounded Himself with the thousands and tens of thousands of Israel, the seed of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Lastly, Joshua exhorts them to cleave to the Lord, and the people finally bind themselves with an oath to serve the Lord and to obey His voice.
Besides these public and prominent services of Joshua, the leader and commander of the people, and Eleazar the high priest who was appointed to ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord, there remain two important histories of personal faith, each perfect in itself, which the book of Joshua records: the first is that of Rahab, and the second is that of Caleb. In truth, we may say the records of Israel would not be complete without these, as not else coming up to the mark of what God is, or giving the examples of the out flowing of His goodness and grace, wherever there was faith that could in defiance of every let or hindrance reckon upon this goodness, and cast itself upon the riches of His love!
Rahab, who was not one of the people, but on the contrary an alien and of the accursed race, threw herself upon the boundlessness of this grace that could not be confined to the limits of Israel but must illustrate itself by overleaping all bounds and saving a Rahab, even when dwelling in Jericho; yea, the conquests of the people of God in Canaan must give precedence to her. The scarlet line from her window, witness of her faith, and pledge of her identification in heart and soul with the hopes and interests of the Israel of God, was also a token to them and to her of the deliverance for which she waited. The scarlet line had saved the spies when she let them down from her house by its means, and it was to save her and all her family in the coming hour of Jericho's overthrow-and that is what faith is, whether then or now, from her window, or at the cross. The young men who were hidden by Rahab in the stalks of flax went in at the bidding of Joshua and fetched her out and all that she had, first, as they swore unto her, and then burned the city with fire.
The further history of Rahab and the dealings of God in grace with her are as remarkable as the beginning. In chapter 6, she has a dwelling place in Israel, as it is said unto this day, and in process of time is married to Salmon, one of its princes, and becomes a link in that illustrious genealogy through which the Messiah Himself was introduced into the world. In Matt. 1:55And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; (Matthew 1:5), in "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ," we read, "Salmon begat Booz of Rachab"; nor is this all, for she passes on from this genealogy to take her place in another, and got her record among the celebrities of Heb. 115By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5), of whom the world was not worthy. Still another record awaits her, and a yet further example of her faith remains for the Apostle James to publish, where she stands side by side with Abraham, the head of the whole family of faith, and the friend of God. Likewise also he asks, Was not Rahab the harlot justified by works when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way? You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. The chain is complete and as perfect as the grace of God always makes whatever it takes in hand- whether the pattern be "a Syrian ready to perish," a Rahab out of Jericho, a thief upon the cross, a Saul of Tarsus, or one of ourselves in this day of grace and of the coming glory.