Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Marching Up From Gilgal (part 2 of 2)

This marching up of Jesus and His brave warriors, from the place where death was given its own fatal blow, should provide the reader of Scripture with a fresh attunement to the words of the sixth chapter of Ephesians (remembering that the New Testament, with its reflections upon Jesus, only makes sense in light of the Hebrew Scriptures), and the Apostle Paul’s insistence upon taking up the armor of God, so as to do battle with the rulers, the powers, and the forces of evil that attempt their continued (and ultimately futile) stand to wreak havoc within Jesus’ kingdom of heaven that was inaugurated with His Resurrection. 

As the Lord commanded Joshua to be unafraid, in much the same way, Jesus commanded His first group of brave warriors (using the term loosely) to be unafraid of going out to preach the Gospel message of His kingdom, so as to unleash the very power of the spoken message itself (backed up by acts of self-sacrificial love) against the forces of death, informing them that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18b), and reminding them that “I am with you always” (28:20b).  Because of that authority, and the power that stands behind it, it is presumed and believed to be the case that no enemy will be able to stand. 

Returning then to Joshua, one finds that “Joshua attacked them by surprise after marching all night from Gilgal” (Joshua 10:9), and that through this, “The Lord routed them before Israel” (10:10a).  Is it not possible to see much the same thing with Jesus?  Figuratively, Jesus marched from Golgotha to the grave.  With His Resurrection however, He figuratively attacked His surprised enemy, death, that had exerted its power and authority through the kings and rulers of this world (having been exerted against Him as well), swallowing it up in victory and relieving it of its sting (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). 

In this story in Joshua, it is said that “The sun stood still and the moon stood motionless while the nation took vengeance on its enemies” (10:13a).  During the three days and three nights of Jesus’ entombment, at the very moment when a new and transformative power for life animated His body, in the few moments following the Resurrection when the groaning creation itself began to take in what had been accomplished within it, in those first declarations of a risen Lord that sprung from a once-defeated band of disciples, and as in these things the kingdom of the Creator God took vengeance on its enemies, can heaven’s response not be imagined?  Exalted language, such as the standing still of the sun and moon, would be necessary to attempt to adequately convey the significance of such things. 

It was said in Joshua that “there has not been a day like it before or since.  The Lord obeyed a man, for the Lord fought for Israel!” (10:14)  As one considers the crucifixion and the Resurrection, it would more than appropriate to reiterate that statement, as those that cast their lot with Jesus are thankful for what was accomplished once and for all time at the cross, and for the new life that was accomplished and promised because the Creator God brought the man Jesus forth from the grave.  It is then possible to reverse what was said of Joshua, and declare that because of one Man’s obedience, the Lord did indeed fight for Israel---for His covenant people.        

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