“Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” – Joshua 1:6
As we study Joshua, we must remember the Reformed hermeneutical principle of “prophetic foreshadowing”; namely, that throughout the Old Testament God reveals types and shadows of greater spiritual realities. “The Promised Land” is one of these types. In Joshua the people fight for land in Canaan, but this earthly land is only a shadow of the spiritual land of promise that awaits us in Christ. The “inheritance” in our text foreshadows the greater inheritance won by Christ. Peter uses “inheritance” as a kind of theological shorthand for all the spiritual blessings that become ours through faith (1 Peter 1:3-5).
The most common foreshadowing found here is Joshua himself as a type of Christ. Not only do they share the same name, Ya-shua in Hebrew, Jesu in Greek, both mean “The Lord saves;” but earlier God had promised Abraham that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12). In Galatians 3:8, the Apostle Paul states that in this promise made to Abraham, God was speaking in Old Testament times of Jesus and “preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand.”
Thus, in the conquering of Canaan, God is laying the groundwork for the fulfillment of His promise, first given to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15), that through the line of the woman, One will come Who will crush the serpent’s head. Adam and Eve believed this promise and were saved by faith. So did Abraham and Joshua. May you too look in faith to the long-promised and now revealed Saviour, Jesus the Christ.
Suggestions for prayer
Ask God, the Holy Spirit, to give you the eyes of faith in order to better see and understand these spiritual truths. Thank the Lord for fulfilling His great promise of redemption.