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When Moses was about to die, he commissioned Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. In this, he was a type of Christ, who is called to lead us into the Promised Land, or the Kingdom. The Hebrew name, Joshua, is spelled and pronounced Yeshua, which was rendered as Iesus in the Greek New Testament.
Iesus itself was a name compounded from Ie and Sus. Ie is the Greek way of writing Yah (short for Yahweh). Sus is the Hebrew word for “horse,” which was a biblical symbol of salvation. It literally means Yah’s Horse, i.e., Yahweh’s Salvation.
Iesus, then, is not a translation but a transliteration from the Hebrew itself, though written in Greek characters. It was used because its meaning was identical to the Hebrew name, Joshua, or Yeshua, “salvation.”
“J” was added to the English alphabet in the 1700’s, and that is when Iesus was changed to Jesus in the English translations of the New Testament.
Joshua’s name is also spelled Hoshea in Numbers 13:8, where we see he is of the tribe of Ephraim. Jesus (Yeshua) was named after Joshua, and this provides us with the first and foremost clue linking the two men prophetically.
The first apparent discrepancy, however, is that Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim, while Jesus was of Judah. This is resolved when we understand the two comings of Christ. He came the first time of the tribe of Judah to die on the cross. He will come the second time as an Ephraimite (son of Joseph) in order to lead us into the Kingdom.
For this reason, Rev. 19:13 says,
13 And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God.
Joseph’s robe was dipped in blood (Gen. 37:31).
We can also trace the Scepter back to Judah and the Birthright to Joseph/Ephraim (1 Chron. 5:1, 2). When Jacob divided the Birthright among his sons, he removed the Scepter from the Birthright and gave it to Judah. He also took the Priesthood from the Birthright and gave it to Levi.
The remaining portion of the Birthright was the authority of sonship, and this was given to Joseph. Gen. 49:22 says literally, “Joseph is a fruitful son.” The Birthright is the right of sonship, something that concerned the apostle John when he wrote in John 1:12,
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
The New Testament tells us that the path to sonship is through Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant. Sonship is not possible to attain through the Old Covenant.
As long as the tribes of Israel were united, the Scepter and the Birthright were united as well. However, when ten tribes (led by Jeroboam, the Ephraimite) revolted from the rule of Judah, a great problem arose. The Scepter lost its kingdom, and the kingdom lost its Scepter.
In practice, this meant that Judah could produce the King-Messiah, but not the Kingdom itself. As for the Israelites, they fell into idolatry and sin to the point that God divorced the house of Israel (Jer. 3:8) and sent them out of His house, according to the law in Deut. 24:1 KJV.
Hence, the Israelites lost its marital status with God, making it impossible for them to produce the sons of God. The provision for sonship came later, beginning with the advent of Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross provided the path to sonship. However, this path could not be completed until the Scepter and Birthright could be reunited at the second coming of Christ.
Hosea 1:11 says,
11 And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader….
That leader is the Messiah Himself. Reunification is possible only under His leadership. He came first as Joshua the Judahite to claim the Scepter, and He will come again as Joshua the Ephraimite to claim the Birthright of Joseph.
Therefore, we see that Joshua is a type of Christ in both appearances, but primarily in Christ’s second coming, when He comes through Joshua’s tribe, Ephraim/Joseph.
Ephraim means “double fruitfulness,” because the -aim (ayim) ending is a Hebrew dual. It means two, or double. In this case it indicates the double portion of the inheritance that goes with the Birthright.
It is also a promise of sonship, which is from a “fruitful” womb. The idea is derived from the Fruitfulness Mandate given in Gen. 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply.” It commands us to bring forth the sons of God and was the responsibility inherent in the Birthright. It is a major theme in Scripture.
Joseph, then, is the key, because the Birthright was his inheritance. It was passed down to Joshua, who utilized it to plant Israel in the Promised Land for the purpose of bringing forth fruit fit for the Kingdom. Isaiah 5:1, 2 says of this,
1 Let me sing now for my well-beloved a song of my beloved concerning His vineyard:
“My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. 2 And He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it and hewed out a wine vat in it; then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones.”
The prophet thus pictures Joshua planting the Kingdom (“vineyard”) in the land of Canaan, expecting it to produce good fruit. But the fruit was “worthless,” because the people turned to false gods who were unable to beget the sons of God.
This story continues into the New Testament era as well, for Jesus told a parable about the same vineyard in Matt. 21:33-44, which begins this way:
33 Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey.
The parable goes on to say that those whose job it was to produce good fruit refused to give the fruit to the Owner of the vineyard—essentially usurping it for their own use and pleasure. They beat and stoned the prophets who were sent to secure the fruit. Finally, they killed the Son Himself.
The verdict is found in Matt. 21:43,
43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.
Jesus applied this parable to Judah, which actually did not have the Birthright. Even so, if they had accepted the true Messiah-King, they would have secured the Scepter, and He would have then found Israel and reunited the two nations and their callings. But they did not fulfill their own calling as per Gen. 49:10. Instead, they disputed Christ’s claim in the divine court (Luke 19:12-14), which tied up the case in court until the time of the end.
This dispute has now been resolved in court and will be enforced shortly when their allotted time to comply has run its course. The verdict is prophesied in Luke 19:27,
27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here [to Jerusalem or Judea] and slay them in my presence.
This prophesies of the immigration of non-believing Jews to the old land in a movement known as Zionism. God has brought them back to the scene of the crime to be judged.
To prevent such an outcome, the Israeli state would have to repent and bring forth fruit fit for divine consumption, beginning with their public acceptance of Jesus Christ as King. Then, by uniting with Israelite believers who hold the Birthright, the two callings might be united in the Kingdom.
However, prophecy is quite clear that this will not happen. The fig tree that Jesus cursed for its lack of fruit (Matt. 21:19) was never again to bear fruit. That fig tree represented Judah. Jesus said later in Matt. 24:32, 33,
32 Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender [i.e., green, coming back to life after winter] , and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.
Jesus was referring to the fig tree that He had cursed earlier, commanding, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you” (Matt. 21:19). This is the tree that would come back to life toward the end of the age, bearing more “leaves,” but still no fruit.
This was fulfilled in 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel. The church, which apparently does not know the difference between fig leaves and fruit, has supported that state, thinking the people will soon repent, recognize Jesus as the Messiah, and bear fruit. But if it were ever to bear fruit, it would prove Jesus to be a false prophet.
Judah can bear fruit only when it is associated with Joseph/Ephraim, because Ephraim holds the Birthright and has the authority to bring forth the sons of God. These tribes have not been united since the death of Solomon.
Meanwhile, a New Covenant has been instituted, after the failure of the Old Covenant made it obsolete (Heb. 8:13). Hence, the manner in which the divine plan will be successful has been altered—or rather, clarified, since this was God’s original intent from the beginning.
When God came down as fire upon Mount Horeb in Exodus 19:18, the people were unable to hear the law. Since faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17), and because it is by faith that the law is written on one’s heart, the people were unable to have the law written on their hearts at that time.
That is why God gave it to them later on tablets of stone. They were given a written record of what God said, but only those who could overcome fear and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to them would be able to transfer the law from external tablets to the tablets on their hearts.
Few did this over the centuries, but some did. In so doing, they came under the New Covenant, even during the general dominance of the Old Covenant. God also said to entwine blue threads in their tassels (Num. 15:38, 39) to remember the commandments. Most did so but remained under the Old Covenant, unless the Holy Spirit worked to transfer the law from blue thread on the outside to their hearts on the inside.
The Old Covenant, given at Mount Horeb, was based on the will of man, requiring Israel to take an oath of obedience in order to obtain the blessings of God. In other words, they were required to conform to the nature of God, as expressed in His law, by disciplining their flesh.
The problem was that the law was “holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12), but the death factor in man made him too weak to succeed in attaining perfection through his own will. All sinned, making it impossible for the law to reward them with life. So Paul says in Rom. 7:10,
10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me.
Under this covenant Israel failed to enter the Promised Land and to inherit the promises. Thus, another path to life had to be created, one that would succeed, a plan that was based on the will of God, rather than the will of man.
After 40 years, when the time of Israel’s sentence came to an end, God made a second covenant with them that would succeed. Deut. 29:1 says,
1 These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb.
This second covenant ran concurrent with the first covenant until Christ ratified the New Covenant at the cross by His blood. It was inherently different from the covenant at Horeb, because it was based on God’s oath and His will, rather than man’s oath and man’s will. Deut. 29:10-13 says,
10 You stand today, all of you, before the Lord your God… 12 that you may enter into the covenant with the Lord your God and into His oath which the Lord your God is making with you today, 13 in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God…
On this occasion, no one was required to swear an oath like what happened in the earlier covenant (Exodus 19:8). Thus, it was based purely upon the will and promise of God. Whoever makes an oath is the one required to fulfill it. In this case, God took the burden upon Himself to accomplish the stated goal: “that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God.”
With this oath came three precedents supporting it:
13 … just as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
It is well known that Abraham was given what we now call the New Covenant, based upon the promise of God. Some call it an unconditional covenant, which it is, but more specifically, it is the oath of God alone. Hence, if it were to fail, and if God proved incapable of establishing them as “His people” and to be their God, He would not be able to claim that they were too disobedient or that their will was too strong for Him to succeed in His good intentions.
God does not make promises that He cannot keep. He does not make promises unless He knows that His will is strong enough to succeed in spite of all opposition.
Furthermore, God extended this New Covenant beyond the borders of Israel, saying in Deut. 29:14, 15,
14 Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, 15 but both with who stand with us today in the presence of the Lord our God and with those who are not with us here today.
The plain reading of these verses makes it a universal covenant that was not restricted to time or space. It covers the entire earth for all generations. God took an oath to include everyone as “His people” and assured us that He would be every man’s God in the end.
Such is the provision and scope of the New Covenant, and if this were too hard for God, He should never have taken such an oath.
After the New Covenant was promised by God’s oath in Deut. 29, God foretells that the Israelites will go into captivity (under the Old Covenant) and subsequently be delivered under the New Covenant. In other words, the captivity will be temporary because it will ultimately be overruled by the promise/oath of God.
They were to “return to the Lord your God and obey Him” (Deut. 30:2), and this will provide the lawful basis of their “restore you from captivity” (Deut. 30:3). This is a New Covenant promise, according to Deut. 30:6,
6 Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live.
Then God (through His agent, Moses) commissioned Joshua to implement this New Covenant by bringing Israel into the Promised Land. Deut. 31:23 says,
23 Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.”
Moses then taught Israel a prophetic song in Deut. 32, followed by a final prophecy about the tribes in Deut. 33. Chapter 34, then, gives the account of Moses’ death. So we see how the commissioning of Joshua was really the climax to the book of Deuteronomy.
Both Moses and Joshua were types of Christ in different ways. Moses was a type of Christ in that he led Israel out of the house of bondage in Egypt, while Jesus Christ led us out of a greater form of bondage imposed upon us for the sin of Adam. For this reason, God promised Moses that One who was like him would arise in the future (Deut. 18:18).
Joshua, on the other hand, was a type of Christ in His second coming (as Joseph). In His second coming, Christ will lead us into the Promised Land on a greater level. No longer will this inheritance merely be land on which to live. Our bodies are made of the dust of the ground, and this is the true inheritance.
Israel had moved away from Canaan when Joseph invited them to move to Egypt. Joseph’s descendant, Joshua, caused them to return to that land inheritance. But this entire process was but a type and shadow, designed to teach us about a greater inheritance that was lost in Adam.
So Joshua himself served as a type of Yeshua-Jesus. As a mere type, Joshua was only partially successful in his commission. Though he completed his mission, we find that there was yet more land to conquer, more enemies to subdue, and more Israelite idolatry to eradicate.
The tribe of Dan, for instance, only possessed the mountainous portion of its land, leaving the plain in the possession of the Philistines (Judges 18:1). God Himself claimed responsibility for leaving ungodly nations in the land, saying in Judges 3:1-5,
1 Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them… 4 And they were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the Lord… 5 And the sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzitets, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Before Joshua died, he told Israel, “And now the Lord your God has given rest to your brothers” (Josh. 22:4). But the type of rest given was an imperfect rest, something less than what God really intended. This is evident from the fact that Israel was later uprooted and exiled to Assyria. If they had truly entered God’s rest, their condition would have been permanent.
So Heb. 4:8, 9 says,
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would have spoken of another day after that. 9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
Nonetheless, Joshua did all that he was commissioned to do. He did his work under the limitations of the type and shadow that were imposed upon him. It had to be so, in order to make room for a greater Joshua—Yeshua, the Christ, who would complete the work and bring us into the true Sabbath rest, unencumbered by sin and death.