The Witness of the Book of Joshua to the Divine Authorship of the Pentateuch.

C. Crain.

The death of Moses is an historic event. It occurred in the early part of the year 1405 B.C., some weeks before the passage of the Jordan. The mission of Moses, whatever it was, was complete. His work was finished. He leaves it as a legacy to his successors. But what was his work? The answer of the word of God is nowhere equivocal. It uniformly maintains that the law was given by Moses. Moses, while he was alive in the world, not only acted as a mediator between God and the generation of Israel of his day, but by divine authority established the covenant relationship under which they and their successors were to be the people of God and enjoy His blessing. Now, the history of the children of Israel under these covenant relationships is to be distinguished from the establishment of the relationships. Moses is not the author of their history under the covenant, but the author, under God, of the covenant under which their history occurred. He gave by divine direction all the laws by which their conduct was to be regulated. He promulgated all the divine communications in regard to the establishment of the covenant. He wrote the history of the communication of the covenant. When he died, the work of communicating the covenant was finished. He left thus a body of writings which ever after was referred to under specific names, such as, The Law, The Law of Moses, This Book of the Law. These terms do not apply simply to the testimony — the tables of the law, put into the ark — but to the entire body of the writings of Moses, i.e., the authorised copy of the history of the establishment of the covenant.

That this body of writings existed, complete and perfect, and was known as the work of Moses, the book of Joshua is a sufficient witness. In Joshua 1:1-9, we have the Lord's first communication to Joshua after the death of Moses. He begins by giving Joshua a command to pass over Jordan into the land He had promised them. He refers to His promise as one already well-known "As I said unto Moses." He evidently speaks of it as a promise He had authorised Moses to communicate to the people. He is thus referring to it not simply as something Moses knew about, but as something he had written about also. Further, in ver. 7, Joshua is exhorted to "observe to do according to all the law, which Moses My servant commanded thee;" and in verse 8 he is told, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein." He is not speaking here of a law to be promulgated hundreds of years later, but of one already existing, and that too by divine authority. "This book of the law" was a well known body of writings. It had been already written. The one who had the authority to do it had commanded it. He had written it by divine direction. It existed among them, was well known and regarded as having the stamp of divine approval. Further, in verses 12-15, Joshua reminds the Reubenites, Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh of what Moses had commanded them concerning their going over Jordan along with their brethren, and helping them conquer the land. Could it have been possible for Joshua to have convinced them that Moses had made such a commandment if he had not really done so. Surely such a fraud would have been exposed at once. Could such a fraud have been imposed upon the nation at any time, say in Josiah's day, or after the Captivity? I am bold to declare it impossible. If no such arrangement had been ordered, it would not be found in the book of the law of Moses. Nothing purporting to be by him would have the least authority, or be in any way binding if it were not one of the communications he had given by divine authority. The simple fact of its not being in the body of writings written by Moses would decide its claim to authority. But it will be said the people lost the work of Moses, forgot all about it, and it would be easy to persuade them when in such a state of ignorance. I answer: To succeed, it would be necessary to establish divine authority. It would have to be traced to Moses. If it could not be traced to him, no matter how much traditional authority there might be, it would not be binding. Just as now, there are many things for which authority is claimed; but they cannot be traced to the Apostles. They have abundant traditional authority; but that does not represent the authority of God. For this we must look to Christ and the Apostles. Their communications have the stamp of the authority of God. Whoever does not hear them is not of God (1 John 4:6).

It was divine authority to which Joshua appealed in Joshua 1:12-15: "Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you." If by divine authority Joshua acts, there cannot be any conflict with what Moses has appointed. God is not divided against Himself. The word given by Moses is binding. It was divine authority to which the Reubenites, Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh submitted.

Now this principle will be found to underlie the whole book of Joshua. It is true Joshua represents the authority of God just as Moses did; but for that reason all that Joshua does is "according to what Moses the servant of the Lord commanded." "As it is written in the book of the law of Moses" was true of all the acts of Joshua that were divinely authorised and approved.

Moses and Joshua typify Christ and the Spirit. Moses gave the law. Joshua and others following gave communications from God that Moses could not give. Christ, in contrast with Moses, displayed grace and truth; revealing thereby God and the Father. But He said, "I have yet many things to say unto you; but ye cannot bear them now." Then He goes on to speak of the Spirit who was to come to tell the things He could not tell them. That Spirit came, and has told us these things; but there is no conflict between the things Christ told us and the things the Spirit has told us. Both communications have divine authority. The communications we have received from the Spirit are according to the communications we have received from Christ. In the same way Joshua's work was according to what was written by Moses. If Moses did not give the law, complete and perfect, the ostensible connection of Joshua with Moses is destroyed, and the evident type of Christ and the Spirit is lost the true relation of Joshua's work to the work of Moses is broken. How present-day theories as to the origin of the five books of Moses show the originators and defenders of these theories to be sadly lacking in spiritual discernment! The nature and the character of the mission of Moses is not understood, nor the meaning and significance of the work of Joshua: the true lessons of both are lost. The very essential element of divine authority entirely disappears in their systems. Their views give us at the best mere human systems which may be compared with other human systems, but lack the authority of God: there is no "Thus saith the Lord" in them.

But how different when we turn to the Pentateuch itself! It is the voice of God we hear, Moses being the instrument through which He speaks. On turning to Joshua, we are still in the presence of the same God. The communications through Moses are not set aside. They are the tests by which we may assure ourselves that the new communications are by the same divine voice. Joshua thus witnesses to Moses, proclaiming him the servant of the Lord, His authorised representative, the instrument of the establishment of the covenant relationship, the writer of the history of that establishment.

How simple and plain! There is no uncertainty, no perplexity, but the voice of God Himself, clear and unmistakable — an authoritative revelation — a communication bearing the stamp of the authority of God.