1. Christocentric focus

Christ as the greater Joshua

Joshua 9:1–27 (ESV)

1 As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this,

There is only one occasion in the book of Joshua where Joshua himself is said to have saved or delivered someone. In Joshua 9:26, Joshua doesn’t deliver the people of Israel (as we would expect); he rescues the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites are rescued from the judgment and shame that they deserve. Outsiders who should have been wiped out are now conscripted to serve the Lord.

Later in the Old Testament, we learn that in God’s grace, it seems as if some of these Gibeonites came to trust and believe in the Lord. For example one of King David’s mighty men was a Gibeonite. Also, when the walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt in Nehemiah, we read in two places of Gibeonites helping with the work. Satan may have tried to stop and deceive God’s people, he wants to destroy God’s church. But in his grace and wisdom, the Lord uses Satan’s schemes to accomplish his purposes. God used the sin of Israel and the deception of the Gibeonites to nonetheless bring about salvation.

The salvation that Joshua worked was rather inadequate. He was a reluctant saviour, and the best he could do was to condemn the Gibeonites to a life of service and slavery. That was better than having them killed, but it was not quite full adoption into the family of Israel.

Jesus Christ, however, is a much better Saviour than Joshua. He comes to save God’s people not reluctantly, but gladly. He doesn’t have to be tricked into saving anyone; he knows exactly what is going on in the darkest depths of our hearts, he knows about all the mistakes we’ve ever made, and he still decided to love us and pay the dreadful penalty that our sins deserve.

And the salvation that he has worked for us is not one in which we serve God as slaves, hoping to be rewarded with eternal life. No, we are adopted as sons and daughters (Galatians 4:7–9; Romans 8:15; 1 John 3:2). We are completely forgiven all our sins, made part of God’s family when we deserve nothing less than the judgment that fell on the nations of Canaan.

Finally, just like God had big plans for the Gibeonites, using them to provide wood and water for sacrifices, to protect King David, and later to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, God also has big plans for us. Having saved us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, he has prepared good works for us that we might walk in them (Ephesians 2:1–10). These are good works that come from being equipped by God’s Word, and from prayerful reflection on God’s Word. They involve us trusting God when we’ve made a mistake.