Second danger & answer
5d. Baptised into Christ (9)
Type v. The promised land: entering into rest(1)
At first sight the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, the promised land, seems nothing to do with our subject of baptism. But a closer consideration will bring back to mind that, when the children of Israel finally entered the promised land they did so in a similar way that the first generation had left Egypt. Namely God parted the waters, this time the river Jordan, and the people crossed the dry river bed. In doing so they left the wilderness behind and entered the promised land flowing with milk and honey.
It is worth noting that with the exception of Joshua and Caleb that present generation of Israelites never experienced the Moses 'baptism'. To qualify this we, of course, mean adults, those who were of the years of accountability.
We would also note that the entering in of Canaan was the fulfilment of God's promise to Moses in Ex.6:1-13. Namely that He would bring Israel to a land previously promised, and He would give it as an heritage to His people. It had been delayed because of the first generation's rebellion at Kadesh-barnea.
In the Hebrew letter the section quoted above is the NT commentary on Israel's failure, at first to enter the land, and then the following generation's successful entry into Canaan. It will be recalled that the first generation, with whom God was displeased, had failed to enter the promised land after the report of the twelve spies. Of the dozen only Caleb and Joshua gave a good report and encouraged their brethren to enter. Believing the majority report the nation, because of their unbelief, failed to enter and were doomed to wander the wilderness, until all that evil generation had perished in the wilderness (Num.13-14).
The Hebrew writer in his commentary mentions creation. He says that God rested from all His works. That is when creation was finished. There was no more to do, God had pronounced everything very good and then rested.
We can take this thought further in order to understand what is meant by rest in the context of the Hebrews epistle. God's last creation was man, and this was on the sixth day. So the first day of life for the man was a day of rest! He entered God's rest and enjoyed all of God's creation. Man hadn't done anything towards creation, instead he just entered the finished works of God. It was in that state that God gave man work to do.
It is this thought that the Hebrew writer is conveying. Namely that for the believer there is a rest, and it is by faith we enter the finished works of God. This of course is the finished work of Calvary; God has now ceased from the work of redemption, because it was all accomplished at Calvary. It by ceasing from our own works, and entering God's finished work of Redemption by faith that we enter the true rest, and do the good works of which the NT speaks.
The writer to the Hebrews makes the statement that the word did not profit the Israelites because it was not mixed with faith. The story of the spies is clear cut and a lesson to us all.
Firstly, when the Israelites came to Kadesh-Barnea God told them to go up and possess the land that was promised to them (Dt. 2:21). But their first reaction was to send spies. Note that the initiative for spies came first from the Israelites, which was then sanctioned by Moses, because it pleased him well (Dt.2:23). This detail is not recorded in Numbers, but it gives us an insight. For this is the foundation of their failure. God said go up and possess the land, they said, let us check things out first. So for forty days they had to wait for the reports of the spies; in that time just think of the doubts that would be raised in their minds, just as it was when Moses was forty days in the mountain (Ex.32)! It would have been better if they had just believed God, and not had followed their own ideas, and entered immediately.
In the main section on the spies' mission, we see that they all came back with the same report but different interpretations according to their faith or unbelief! They all agreed that the land flowed with milk and honey. The difference between the ten faithless ones and Joshua and Caleb was that the former group said that the people there were giants and the Israelites were grasshoppers, thus putting fear into the Israelites. Whereas the other two said that they were able to overcome; ' let us go in' Num.13:27-33.
The children of Israel chose to believe the majority report, and failed to enter the land. The word was not mixed with faith. Then to make matters worse the Israelites decided, after God's judgement to wander the wilderness, to presume and to go into Canaan when God had forbidden it. They were defeated and put to shame. It is interesting to note that their own carnal attempt to enter the promised land is called presumption (Num.14:40-45).
Often what we call faith is in fact presumption. True faith is the correct response to God's word speaking to our hearts. If God doesn't speak then we can not exercise faith. Faith is not some magical force to get what we want!
So Israel’s first attempt to cross into Canaan ended up in failure because of their disobedience in refusing to listen to the good report of the two faithful spies. Consequently that generation was condemned to wander the wilderness until they died off. For forty years Israel wandered in the wilderness, going round in circles and never inherited what God had promised them.
With the background set we are now ready to consider the crossing of Jordan into the land of promise.
In the OT the Israelites were to possess a physical piece of land, of real estate. In the NC we are to possess our souls and our bodies for His glory. That is to have the life of Christ manifested in our bodies and soul - to be Christ-like, made conformable to the image of God's Son. The crossing of the Jordan gives us some lessons to us of entering into this rest of God's finished work.
Joshua is the Hebrew form of the Greek name Jesus. So quite clearly we see Joshua here as a type of Jesus. It was he who was to lead the Israelites into the promised land Josh.1:10-11.
Before they came to Jordan for the crossing they departed from Shittim. Shittim s was the place where the previous generation had sinned in the matter of Baalim Num.25:1. Jesus sums up the teaching of Baalim as being of idolatry and fornication Rev.2:14. These are manifestations of the works of the flesh Gal.5:19-21.
In type then we can see that entering Canaan illustrates being cut off from the works of the flesh in order to walk in the Spirit. That is, ceasing from our own works and entering the rest, or the finished works of God.
Jordan was a significant river in Israel's history. It is a river that starts on the slopes of Mount Hermon, flows through the Sea of Galilee and then runs into the Dead Sea. It was at Jordan that John the Baptist baptised Jesus Mtt.3:5.
So in type then, when the children of Israel passed over the Jordan, they were baptised into Joshua. In type they were being baptised into death and in doing so were cut off from the wilderness way, which resulted from their unbelief producing the works of the flesh.
We must be cut off from the spiritual wilderness of unbelief and the works of the flesh and enter into the rest of God. That is to cease from our own efforts, rest in God and learn how to possess our possession in Christ.