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March 8 – History that prophesies

“And the LORD said to Joshua, Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land.” – Joshua 8:1

Scripture reading: Joshua 8:1-2

When God gave us His Word, the Holy Spirit used many of the kinds of literature that you find in human writing. There’s poetry and wisdom literature; there’s apocalypse, where God reveals the future to us with strange images; there are biographies and letters and there’s history.

Those are all human literary forms. But the Bible is God’s inspired Word that proclaims the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ and so these human literary forms have a special character. We would characterize the book of Joshua as history, but the Old Testament church called it prophecy because it doesn’t just tell us facts about things that God and His people did as Israel entered the Promised Land. Old Testament history prophesies: it proclaims and foreshadows God’s work of salvation in Jesus Christ.

So as we read what is recorded in Joshua 8, we shouldn’t think that this is here just so that everything turned out alright, because Israel eventually managed to defeat Ai, and they really made them pay for what happened the first time. The story of Israel’s victory at Ai tells us Who God is and how we can expect Him to deal with us. It shows us how we can claim the inheritance of eternal life that He has promised us in Jesus Christ. Our times, our circumstances and our calling are in many ways different from Israel’s. But God is the same. The way of salvation is the same for us as it was for them – by grace and through faith.

Suggestions for prayer

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what Old Testament history is teaching us about the character and ways of God, how it foreshadows the coming and the saving ministry of Christ, so that you may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON.

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