With the book of Joshua open before us we will
also remind ourselves of the Word in the letter to the Colossians, chapter 2
verse 19: "Holding fast the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and
knit together through the joints and bands, increases with the increase of God."
Then in chapter 3 verse 11: "Where there cannot be Greek or Jew, circumcision
and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman, but Christ is all,
and in all". Really, these two portions make one whole and they can, without
being unlawful, be brought together in that way - the Head increases with the
increase of God in the Body where Christ is all and in all. The more literal
translation of the last passage would be: "Where Christ is everything and in
With that we turn back to the book of Joshua at
chapter 1 verses 1-2. If you glance through that chapter you will see that Moses
and Joshua are found very much together there. There is a sense in which they
overlap. Although Moses is dead, yet that which Moses represented is carried on
and, in the sense of his ministry and purpose, he is still found very much in
evidence. It is as though Joshua took Moses with him. It is of considerable
significance that the first chapter of the book of Joshua finds Moses and Joshua
very closely related. The significance is that with which we shall be occupied
for a little while.
What is the significance of Moses? To just
mention it to such as are at all familiar with the Word will be sufficient to
immediately recall a very great deal of confirmatory proof and data. There is
one expression which is a very common expression in connection with Moses, it
is: "the word of the Lord by Moses". That occurs frequently in the book
of Exodus. "As the Lord spoke unto Moses" is repeated again and again. So
that we may rightly say that Moses represents the word of the Lord.
When you look into the word of the Lord as
given by Moses you find that by far the greater amount is with a forward aspect.
It is, in a sense, prophetic; it is pointing onwards. It is in the nature of
promise. It has to do with a time which has not yet arrived. Moses was a
prophet, whatever else he was. He said himself in a prophecy: "The Lord your
God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren,
like unto me". So that the word of the Lord to Moses had a future in view, a
history as yet unrealised.
Carry that into the first chapter of the book
of Joshua, and you find that upon which this book rests, and the basis of all
that follows. Then recognise what Joshua represents; he speaks of the energies
of the Holy Spirit. Joshua is the energies of the Holy Spirit in relation to the
Word of God, in relation to the history not yet realised, in relation to all the
prospect and promise by Moses. Joshua's ministry is the fulfilment of the word
of the Lord and the realisations of all the divine intention.
Then we have to look at the nature of the word
of the Lord with its spiritual interpretation. And we find that the Lord's
intention, the Lord's thought, the Lord's purpose was to bring His people from a
place of barrenness and emptiness and weakness and oppression, into a place of
fruitfulness, strength, dominion and of fulness.
The dominating promise through Moses was that
of a fruitful land, flowing with milk and honey. It is one historic way of
illustrating and typifying what we have in another form in the case of Solomon,
with the wonderful expression of divinely given fulness. Solomon was the product
of a special act of God in order to give amongst men in a high place, a
conspicuous illustration of divine glory. And one who came with a great train,
camels, spices, and riches, who was one of the great ones of the earth was left,
with all her greatness, without ability to express herself. The greatness of
this world went down into insignificance before the glory of Solomon. Then the
Lord Jesus says a thing which, were it not He Who said it, would be a
tremendously presumptuous thing to say, "...a greater than Solomon is here".
Literally the word there is "more", a more than Solomon is here.
The land speaking of divine fulness, or Solomon
speaking of divine glory, are only types of the Lord Jesus. And they lead us on
to these passages in Colossians to the increase of God, where Christ is
everything and in all. That is God's intention, revealed in the Word through
Moses and to be made an actuality through Joshua. Or, putting it more generally,
the word of the Lord all points to the fulness of Christ, and the activities and
energies of the Holy Spirit are all directed to that end. From the very first
energy of the Holy Spirit in the deliverance of a soul from sin and from the
world, through all the subsequent activities of the Spirit in that life, and in
the whole Body of Christ, the one thing is in view - the making good of the Word
which points to that ultimate issue: the fulness of Christ.
We might stay for a moment to get a little
adjustment in our minds as to service. If this is true, that all the Word of God
is intended to lead to the fulness of Christ, and all the energies of the Holy
Spirit are unto that end, then surely there is no service outside of that. All
service is within the Word of God, and under the energy of the Holy Spirit.
There is no service outside of the Word of God. There is no service which counts
for anything apart from the energies of the Holy Spirit; therefore, whatever may
be the phase or the aspect of service, ministry, or of life, it comes within
that compass. If it is what is called evangelical (which is mainly thought to
relate to the conversion of the unsaved), or whether it be any other form of
service in relation to the Lord, it comes within that compass and is bound by
that double divine law: the Word and the Spirit. It is, therefore, dominated by
Salvation is not just to get a soul saved, but
to start that soul on the way to the fulness of Christ. Every ministry in the
Word and in the Spirit, is governed by that end. And to be just saved and stay
there is to fail of the purpose of the Word and to fall short of the energy of
the Holy Spirit. To go to any part of this world in what we call "the work of
the Lord" must mean that we are governed by this thing: that in that place
there shall be nothing less than the fulness of Christ; as far as it is possible,
that Christ shall be everything and in all there. That is final, utter,
ultimate. There can be no division and no sharing with Christ. It must be Christ
as everything and in all.
When we recognise that that is the aim and
object of the Holy Spirit, we have life and ministry defined. It applies to all.
If you are the Lord's, your life should be governed by the Word of the Lord and
by the Holy Spirit. If it is not, there is something wrong with your
relationship to the Lord. Whatever your work is - it may be in the home as a
parent, it may be in household duties, it may be in business - if you are there
in relation to the Lord, so far as you personally are concerned, your life has
got to represent Christ; and that is the ministry. If we carried that into every
sphere of life, things would be very different. That must challenge every
motive, that must govern every consideration, that must settle every quarrel,
every conflict, everything that arises which causes us disturbance, annoyance,
and throws us into the vortex of some battle. The thing has to be tested on this
point only - Christ as everything and Christ in all.
We have to continually ask the question: "Is
Christ everything in this matter, or am I wanting my own way? Am I allowing my
own feelings, desires and likes to dominate or is Christ everything? Is Christ
in all here, so far as it is within my power, in the energy of the Holy Spirit,
for it to be so?" That has to be reduced to the minutia of daily life. We have
to get away when we are upset, annoyed, provoked, irritated, and fight that
battle out and say: "Lord, You have to be everything in this matter: it does not
matter how my interests are affected." And from those details of everyday life
and experience out to the wider ranges, and up to the place where we may be the
Lord's responsible servant, the Word and the Spirit have to govern; and the Word
and the Spirit have one object: Christ - everything and in all.
Recognising that, we see that this further
thing is necessary, that we are a truly spiritual people. It is very often
difficult to define what is meant by spirituality, or a spiritual people. It is
one of those things better experienced than explained. But for the moment it can
be put quite simply and quite safely and soundly in this way, that a spiritual
people is a people who are governed by the Word and the Holy Spirit to this end:
that in everything within and without, Christ is all and in all. That is true
spirituality. The difference between Israel in the wilderness and Israel in the
land, is the difference between Israel carnally and Israel in conquest and
victory, because the flesh had been cut off in Jordan and set aside in Gilgal,
and now it is a people after the Spirit. There arises upon that ground the very
fact of conflict.
The same applies to Ephesians 6:10 and 12. The
apostle there says: "Our wrestling is... against the principalities, against
the powers". So often our mentality is round the other way, and we think in
terms of principalities and powers wrestling with us. When the people of God
were constituted a spiritual people, they were automatically constituted an
aggressive people; they took the initiative in the matter of battle and
conflict. It comes about spontaneously. If we come within the compass of the
government of the word of God, and the energies of the Holy Spirit (which have
the fulness of Christ in view) then a state of conflict is precipitated
spontaneously and automatically.
The enemy is definitely and positively set
against the fulness of Christ in the saints. The enemy is set with all his
resources against the object in view, which is Christ - everything and in all.
We come on to that ground, that is our object and we are energised by the Holy
Spirit unto that end, and quite spontaneously the battle arises. It is not
necessary to make battle. We are in a realm of spiritual conflict and we find
that we are compelled to fight; it is not optional at all. We are flung into it,
and have got to take it up. When that is our object, the enemy is against us
with every kind of resource that he has.
We shall find positive, open antagonism coming
out in naked, bare resistance, and we shall find that the enemy resorts to every
kind of trickery and subterfuge. We shall find Achan to be just one of his
wiles. He knows quite well that while we maintain our spiritual position he is
helpless; he must, therefore, get us out of our spiritual position. And Achan
speaks of Israel being brought out of their spiritual position by a touch with
the earth, by a link with the world and a contamination with what is polluted.
The enemy is always trying to bring in the polluting element and always seeking
to find a place where he can make a contact with that which must, in the nature
of things, bring us under arrest and into divine disfavour, so that the Lord has
to say: "I cannot go on with you while there is that." The enemy is trying
always to get in between us and the Lord in this matter. It does not matter who
it is; be he the most greatly used servant of God; be he in the most prominent
spiritual position; be he an elect vessel, chosen of God before the foundation
of the world; be he brought out into divine vocation by a Sovereign act, as
never was before; that servant is just as liable to become set aside. Paul
recognised that: "Lest after having heralded others I myself should be put on
one side". It is not a matter of election; it is a matter of vocation. And
Joshua and all that Joshua represents, is on his face before God, involved in
the disaster of Ai because of Achan. If the enemy can in any way bring about a
link with that which is not according to God's mind, it does not matter who it
is, that one comes under arrest; the enemy has scored and until his ground is
removed, the Lord cannot go on.
So the enemy is always seeking to get in
between us and the Lord, by introducing something which provides for him a right
ground of accusation: "The accuser of the brethren, who accused them before
God day and night". This is not bringing back on to the ground of judgement
in the matter of salvation, but is bringing on to the ground where the
arrest of the divine purpose is involved.
The Gibeonites will be but another form of
Satanic wiles. The enemy can succeed along that line also. Here you have a wily
working, designing to associate with the Lord's purpose those who really at
heart are not of God. The Gibeonites worked wilily in order to get an acceptance
amongst the Lord's people, and Joshua and the elders were caught in that trap.
The result was that they made a vow and formed a covenant with the Gibeonites,
which they could not go back upon. And as a result they had men working amongst
them who were not in heart or in spirit with them. That is a trick of the devil,
to get in elements which feign to be in sympathy, but which are really not of
the people of God in any spiritual sense. These people were thorns in their
sides, and the later history of Israel for four hundred years under the Judges
is the calamity in part resultant from that thing.
The confederacy of the kings will be another
form of Satanic activity. There will be confederacy against what is truly
spiritual. It is remarkable how confederacies come about when there is a common
interest. They could not possibly exist but for a common interest. Herod and
Pontius Pilate are sworn enemies until they have got a common ground in Jesus of
Nazareth, and they are then made friends. The devil will bring about
confederacies between those who are altogether unrelated and out of sympathy
with one another, to make a common cause against something which is a menace to
him. So you find strange things happening when you are going right out with God;
things which would never happen otherwise.
There are many wiles of the enemy, but when you
have covered all the ground you come back to one thing: the enemy is against
Christ being all and in all. The very fact that that is so creates a state of
war. And you are in it, you cannot help yourself, and you will meet it every
step of the way.
It explains everything. It explains why it is
that the way of a wholehearted abandonment to the Lord's end and to the Lord's
purpose is such a difficult way and is so much more difficult than any other
way; why it is that when you come right out for God into a spiritual, heavenly
place with a heavenly object, you meet what you never meet in any other realm.
There is nothing whatever which can serve the enemy's purpose, or which provides
him with the slightest measure of ground for his purpose, which he does not snap
up at once and use against you when you are there. He will pass over all kinds
of things if you are not right out for God, but once you get clear and are set
upon God's full end in God's way, by God's means, there is nothing that the
enemy does not take hold of if he finds it available, to use against you. That,
of course, is very significant.
There is another side to this. If the kings do
form a confederacy, the Lord does not prevent and He does not break up their
confederacy, but He hands over the lot. The Lord is sovereign, and if they bunch
themselves together the Lord takes them as a bunch. And so the kings are
brought, and are all in a bunch placed under the feet of the leaders of Israel.
The Lord is sovereign, whatever the enemy may do. And even though there may be
the tragedy of Achan, the Lord is sovereign. This will not weaken our spiritual
position, or make us feel that because the Lord can sovereignly overrule things
we can dabble in the things of the world. We must remember that even the valley
of Achor became a door of hope. The place of sin and judgement and destruction
can become the way to life, under the sovereign hand of God. But we might
perhaps be saved a good deal of the devastation if we kept off the ground which
God has devoted. If we will go on with Him, He will turn what seems to harm us
into everlasting joy.
May we see what the Lord is after, what His
Word points to, and what the Spirit is seeking to realise; and come under the
two-fold government of the Word and the Spirit, unto the increase of God where
Christ is everything and in all.