The Book of Joshua

11. The Leader's Memorial and his Glory.

Joshua 4:9, 14.

"Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things. — Eph. 4:9-10.

Jehovah wrought "wonders" for Israel at the Jordan, both in the actual work performed, and in the hidden meaning of the work; hence in the type before us great things of God's mind are to be found.

"And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood, and they are there to this day." When the record was written, the swellings of Jordan had not swept away the leader's own memorial of the passage of the river's bed. Israel's memorial set up in Canaan was for all in the land of promise to see — "a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever." Joshua's, reared in the bed of the river, was for no eye to behold when the waters were at their flood; but none the less a memorial for the leader himself. In the river we may justly say, his deepest feelings would centre; there, where the priests stood, the whole burden of Israel's security was borne, and there the secret power of all Israel's blessing in entering Canaan lay.

Joshua in Canaan being a type of Christ, we have in this action a significant teaching. Our Lord never forgets the deep waters through which He passed — those sufferings in and unto death, by which He vanquished him that had the power of death — the devil — and by which He opened to His people their heavenly inheritance. From the throne on high He remembers the travail of His soul, His cross, its shame and agony. Jesus, whose work has brought the people of God into heavenly places, ever remembers the swellings of Jordan, the flood of deep waters where He, blessed be His Name, stood firm for us to bring us to His God and Father.

God's people are much occupied with their blessings, and indeed, of moral necessity, these must at first fill the heart; for until, by grace, it be known how the saints are blessed in the heavenly places in Christ, it is not possible to meditate upon the way our Lord has brought us into our blessings. Our stones of memorial tell us of Jordan's depths, and what Christ suffered for our sakes, and of our blessings; but let not His memorial be forgotten! His holy person in glory still bears the marks of the wounds of Calvary, and from heaven Jesus, speaking of His death, says to His people, "Remember Me."

The sacred memory of the place where His feet "stood firm" when the billows of God's wrath rolled over Him, should be present to the heart. True, He is no longer the sufferer, His sorrows are for ever passed, He is the ascended Son of Man, triumphant in His victory over death; but for ever shall memories of His death fill the hearts of His people — eternally shall it be said of the Lord's "stones of witness," "They are there unto this day."

Jehovah magnified Joshua by the passage of the Jordan, and thereby obtained for him the leadership in Israel's eyes. "On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life."

The present exaltation and place of the Lord Jesus as Man is of His God and Father, and His glories and exaltation are the blessed answer to His sufferings and humiliation. "Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things" (Eph. 4:9-10). The Lord Jesus, the Son of Man, who went down to the lowest depths, occupies the highest height in heaven; and there He bears in His person the solemn witness to Calvary. Because of His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name (Phil. 2). He has been raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and God the Father has set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Eph. 1). As this exaltation of the Lord is apprehended, He becomes indeed the Leader to His people, and is magnified by them.

The Lord is not fully honoured by His people until His present glory be recognized. In the light of His present exaltation as a man, on the life side of death, His glory as the Lord who died is seen. He, the risen and ascended Christ, is the Firstborn from among the dead, the Head over all things, the Head of His body the church; and the more the heart apprehends Him thus, the more all that He did in dying for us is remembered.

The heavenly Leader is before His people in the teachings of the book before us. Even in earthly matters a leader's influence over his followers is proportionate to the honour in which they hold him. Now Christ is in heaven and in glory, and as His greatness and majesty, His strength and power, are apprehended by faith, a mighty influence is exercised over the souls, and lives of His people. His position in glory, His victory determine the blessing of the redeemed; the fulness of the blessing of the members is determined by the glory of the Head. His honour, and their blessing are not to be separated. Our heavenly position in Christ is exclusively of divine grace, but it is ours in Christ on high. Now indeed it is a subject for faith, but soon it will be displayed in glory, and that display will be seen to be to the honour of our exalted Saviour, Jesus Christ the Lord.