The Book of Joshua

7. A Digression.

Deliverance from Wrath.

"When I see the blood, I will pass over you." — Exodus 12:13.

Before enquiring into the passage of the Jordan, it will be well to glance at the types of the Passover and the Red Sea. It must not be forgotten that, had it not been for Israel's unbelief (Num. 14), the passage of the Jordan would have followed close upon that of the Red Sea. The wilderness wanderings of forty years were, therefore, a parenthesis of Israel's unbelief in the midst of the purposes of God for them. The three types occurred at different intervals, but they all direct us to the one work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore it is well to look at them together.

It is impossible to take two steps at one time in learning divine truth. Theories may be intellectually mastered, but not one step further does the soul go God-wards, than that which it is enabled to take by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Each such step is real advance, and God strengthens us by the word to go on further in its truths; and every truth learned with God is a step on to fresh knowledge of Him in the word.

Israel did not reach Canaan, until they had passed the Jordan; and they did not reach the Jordan, until they had crossed the wilderness; and they did not enter the wilderness, until they had passed through the Red Sea; and they did not pass through the Red Sea, until they had left Egypt. Step by step did God lead them on.

We will look rapidly at these steps, beginning with that which took them out of Egypt.

Now many believers are at this present moment experimentally in Egypt — that is, they are proving the world to be a house of bondage, and they long to be delivered, and to be free from it in spirit. Such obviously are not experimentally in Canaan, fighting God's battles on His appointed battle-ground in heavenly places.

The tidings of the land of Canaan, flowing with milk and honey, came to Israel in their slavery, in their bonds, in their thrall, when they had not so much as thought of emancipation, or had ever contemplated being Jehovah's army to conquer the seven nations, greater and mightier than themselves, in possession of Canaan.

The people of Israel were slaves, and Jehovah's gracious words to them, through Moses and. Aaron, in their affliction were as music in their ears; so now is the sweeter message of everlasting mercy to the sinner weighed down under the sense of bondage. The gospel to such an one is an unutterably wonderful melody of divine love. God loves the sinner, God looks in compassion upon him just as he is; yes, "God commends His love towards us," even while we were yet sinners, even while we were still the slaves of Satan. The unspeakable goodness of God in loving us while we are bond-slaves of Satan and children of the world's vanity, His grace, in speaking of blessing and rest to our despairing souls, awes the spirit to thankful and wondering reverence of His name. Israel bowed the head and worshipped on hearing their glad tidings; so do we on hearing God's good news to us (Ex. 4:29-31).

But this gladness is not to be mistaken for the restful knowledge of redemption, nor the realization of absolute freedom in Christ from slavery. Deep distress frequently follows such gladness. Satan is never willing to let one of his slaves go; he puts out his strength to hold them still, and the experience of his power results in misery rolling in upon the soul like waves of the sea. Frequently to such an extent is the power of Satan felt, that when fresh and more marvellous unfoldings of God's grace are made known than those which first told of heaven, the sinner, instead of being comforted by the word, is like Israel, when "they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage" (See Ex. 6:9).

Now to live for God and to fight for God, to be a soldier, while in the spirit of a slave, is impossible. To be a Christian soldier, and to fight in the wars of the Lord, while groaning under the weight of spiritual chains, and while not knowing whether we are redeemed or not, cannot be. Men "bound in affliction and iron" (Ps. 107:10) are not fighting for God. Spiritual freedom is necessary for this warfare. God's way is to break our bonds to set us free, and then to make us His soldiers to fight the enemy and to free others.

Break ourselves away from the grip of the enemy we cannot, nor can we in our own might escape from the world, of which he is god (2 Cor. 4:4). God alone can deliver, and deliver He will, for His purpose is to bless. Whatever Israel might experience, Jehovah had said, "Let my people go, that they may serve me" (Ex. 7:16). No power in hell or on earth shall thwart His purpose.

It was at the very moment of the people's deepest anguish of spirit that Jehovah gave Moses and Aaron "a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt" (the reality of the oppressor's authority was recognized by God, and none the less is that of the power of Satan today); and the charge was "to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt" (Ex. 6:13). And in what way were the slaves to be brought out? As escaped slaves? No, "according to their armies" (ver. 26), with all the dignity of the host of the Lord.

Now how did God bring His people out? By the blood of the slain lamb. Israel's bondage came to an end by blood: through death they were set free from death. God's one way of deliverance from the thraldom and judgment of this world is the blood shed by His Son on the cross. Man's end in this world is death: through the death of Christ is God's beginning for His people. Israel's "beginning of months" (Ex. 12:2), their national birthday, occurred "in the land of Egypt" (ver. 1). When in this world and of it, when under its judgment, under its ruler, God, in grace, finds the sinner and gives him freedom. When still of the world, and under its sentence of judgment, we are brought out of it, and are redeemed to God.

God said to Israel, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you" (Ex. 12:13). Israel's security depended on what God saw and said. God did not look at the number of persons who might be in the house, but He looked at the blood outside. God did not look at the state of the persons who were sheltered by the blood, but at the blood which sheltered them. All ages of first-born sons were protected by the blood of the lamb, for the full-grown men and the babes equally needed the protecting blood, and all were equally safe under its protection.

The families fed on the lamb "roast with fire" (ver. 8), but it was not their feeding on the lamb in their houses, but the blood outside their doors that led the angel to pass over them. We are not redeemed on account of our communion with Christ, but because Christ died for us. True, they could not have eaten of the lamb, unless they had slain it for themselves; so no one can have communion respecting Christ suffering, unless he first really and truly in the heart receives Him as the Saviour: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you" (John 6:53). The whole household, whether child or patriarch, ate of the lamb; and every one, young or old, who has received Christ is alike blessed with the highest blessings, for the Lord Jesus says, "He that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, dwells in Me, and I in Him" (ver. 56).

They ate the lamb with "unleavened bread and with bitter herbs"; but God looked neither at the unleavened bread nor the bitter herbs they ate when the destroyer passed that night through the land; God saw the blood.

Holiness becomes the redeemed soul. "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor. 5:7-8); and as we feed in our hearts on Christ, Who endured the fire of divine wrath for us, Who shed His precious blood, and Who died for us, we cannot do otherwise than banish leaven (evil) from our houses. Yet we are not redeemed by our holiness, but by Christ's blood.

The redeemed sinner cannot but eat his bitter herbs, as he thinks of his Redeemer's sufferings for him, for our sins slew Him, our iniquities were laid upon Him — yes, He bare our griefs and carried our sorrows, and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. Deep, deep sense of what our sins cost our Lord must ever accompany the feeding on His sufferings for us; yet not the bitter herbs, but His blood is our ransom; not our repentance, nor our sorrows, but Himself, is the price paid for our redemption.

Our security depends upon what God in His holiness and righteousness has to say concerning the precious blood of Christ. The Eternal, the Holy One, is glorified respecting sin by the death of Jesus. Honour and glory have been brought to God by the precious blood of the Son. How small are we, how poor our highest thoughts of the eternal redemption Christ has obtained.

God gave Israel one sign: "The blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are" (Ex. 12:13). It was a sign they could not see, for it was outside their houses. It was there for God, not for them, to look at. They shut their doors, and went not out of their houses until the morning (ver. 22). The seeking soul looks for a sign, and God sets forth, "Christ Jesus … a propitiation through faith in His blood" (Rom. 3:24-25). That blood none can see. It is an invisible sign. Unbelief looks for a token in the state of the soul, an experience of joy in the heart. Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us eighteen hundred years ago, and then God saw that blood, and now God declares for everyone who by faith receives His word, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you."

Israel's first free step was after the Passover. Then the doors of their houses were opened. They passed out of bonds into liberty under their blood-stained portals; above each head, at either side of every freed person, was the blood, as the people left Egypt's slavery for ever.

They left the land of bondage; Canaan was before them; Pharaoh's slaves had become the "hosts of the Lord" (Ex. 12:41).