Thursday, November 25, 2010

Are You Associated with Joshua or Jesus?

Reading: Joshua 10  
In Joshua 9, we read of two different responses of cities to the Israelites as they began to conquer the land of Canaan. The first was a group of kings who joined forces to conquer Israel. They saw Israel and figured there is more strength when we are together than when we are separate. The second was the Gibeonites, who believed that God was really behind the Israelites and therefore they would be destroyed. They set out to save their own skin by making an alliance with Israel. They were happy to be made servants, because it was a suitable alternative to death. I wrote about those events under the title, Have you ever feared for your life?
In Joshua 10, we read of an interesting consequence to their alliance with Joshua. Rather than attacking Israel, when Adoni Zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard about what Israel had done to Jericho and Ai, and heard that the Gibeonites made a treaty with Israel, he made this appeal to four other kings:
"Come up and help me attack Gibeon," he said, "because it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites."
I can imagine the Gibeonites may have had a moment of pause in which they wondered, “Okay, so we set out to save our skin by making a treaty with Joshua, and now will we be destroyed anyway by these five kings and their armies?”
The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: "Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us." (Joshua 10:6)
So Joshua and Israel marched all the way over to them and Joshua's victory became their victory. Because of their association with Joshua and Israel, the Gibeonites were able to share in their victory.
I couldn't help but think of an interesting change in the new storyline of the Gospel. Before we note the change, let's note some similarities. Like the Gibeonites joined with Joshua in order to save their lives, we have joined with Jesus (His name in Hebrew was the same, Yeshua, or Joshua) in order to save our lives. And, like the Gibeonites, we too will be hated because of our association with Jesus, just as they were hated because of their association with Joshua.
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. (John 15:18-21)
However, here is where the difference lies. Joshua was encountering the enemy and his victory was seen in how they won the battles and took the cities. Therefore the Gibeonites shared in his victories. Jesus encountered the enemy and was crucified. And it is his seeming defeat that is His victory, indeed it is our victory. Therefore, because of our association with Jesus we will “share in His sufferings, in order that somehow we will share in His glory” (Romans 8:17). Just as the victories of Joshua flowed over into the lives of the Gibeonites, so also “the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives” (2 Corinthians 1:5).
But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:13)
The Christian hope is a future glory, an unfading glory, that we receive when the Chief Shepherd appears. I wonder how often people associate with Jesus, but are looking for the results the Gibeonites received: an immediate joining into the victories of Joshua. That would contribute to disillusionment, failed expectations, when they encounter an entering into the sufferings of Jesus. So it is important to note the difference between association with Joshua and Jesus and know who we are associated with: Jesus, the Lamb that was slain, who in being the Lamb slain is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who conquered.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,