Monday, July 1, 2019

Dynastic Succession

"After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses My servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land” (Joshua 1:1–2a).

One of the principles of the covenant was dynastic succession. The covenant included provisions for the leader to pass the torch to a new leader. In Deuteronomy, Moses presented Joshua as his successor and, before God, the people laid hands on him. This event is recapitulated in the New Testament in the succession of the Holy Spirit from Jesus.

In the Upper Room, when Jesus renewed the covenant with His disciples, He explained to them that He was going away. He told them that they were going to receive a new leader, the Holy Spirit, who would lead them in the task of taking the Gospel to the world (John 14–16). The Holy Spirit would make Jesus present and with them always, even unto the end of the world.

When Moses died, Joshua took over. Just as the Spirit today follows the “orders” of Christ, so Joshua followed the orders of the pre-incarnate Christ, the Captain of the Lord’s host. The Spirit represents Jesus to us today, as Joshua represented the pre-incarnate Christ to Israel.

Early chapters of Acts mirror the events of the book of Joshua, carrying forth the parallel between Joshua and the Holy Spirit. In Joshua 1, God told the people to prepare for the conquest; in Acts 1 Jesus told the disciples to wait for the Spirit and to get their band ready for their greater conquest. In Joshua 3–5, Israel crossed the Jordan and circumcised themselves; in Acts 2 the Spirit fell and baptized the church. In Joshua 6, Jericho was conquered; in Acts 3–4 the conquest of Jerusalem was begun and many were saved. In Joshua 7, Achan stole from God, lied about it, and was destroyed; in Acts 5:1–10, Ananias lied to God and was destroyed. In Joshua 8, Ai was conquered; in Acts 5:11–42, vast numbers in Jerusalem were converted. In Joshua 9, the gentile Gibeonites joined with Israel; in Acts 6, the Hellenistic Jews were joined to the church on an equal basis. In Joshua 10–12, the rest of the land was conquered; in Acts 8:4, the believers left Jerusalem to make disciples of the world.

Once we see the parallels between Joshua and Acts, we also see significant contrasts: conquest by sword versus conquest by conversion; Gentiles sneaking in versus Gentiles welcomed. What does it mean to you to be a part of the spiritual dynastic succession of Israel and the church?