In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Moses dies. Joshua is raised up to replace Moses. He is given the same authority as Moses, but a specific mission: “Go in, take the land. For by you, Joshua, I will fulfill My promise to Abraham to give the land to His family. And Joshua is given great ad mighty promises. “I will not leave you or forsake you. I will go with you wherever you go. So be strong and courageous. You are My man, to give My people My gifts.” Of course, Joshua is the Lord’s man. His name, which is the Lord’s name (Joshua and Jesus are the same name, and come from the same Hebrew word Jehoshua), means, “the Lord is salvation”. He is the Lord’s man to give salvation. To make good on the Lord’s promises. For the Lord. Is. Salvation. The Lord uses Joshua now to deliver His saving purposes, but one day the Lord Himself would take on flesh, to make good on that name, becoming the salvation of all mankind.
Today we start the story with the Lord saying that in 3 days it will happen. 3 is the number of the Lord’s salvation. All throughout the Bible 3rd days are days of the Lord’s saving action. The greatest of which is the Lord’s 3rd day victory over sin and death for all mankind. But this 3rd day He’ll lead them into land He promised to give them.
And the Lord promises Joshua, “Wherever you set your foot there I will give you the land.” This is an ancient concept that if the land is yours you actually walk it. You touch it. That wherever you walk, you claim the land. I hear some of you Finlanders think similarly that if the land is yours you should walk it, know it, set your feet upon it now and again. Abraham did it. He was a wandering Aramean. He tread all over the land, the land that the Lord was now giving to his descendants. The same land the Lord now promises Joshua that wherever he treads there the Lord has given him the land. This is why after Our Lord’s baptism in the Jordan He doesn’t just set up shop and become a famous preacher in one location. No, He goes into the land to conquer it spiritually, walking its length and breadth, visiting all its towns. Claiming it. This is a theme throughout the Bible. Right from the first promise to Eve of the saviour: one of your sons will crush head of the serpent, while the serpent will bite His heal. What did He crush the head of the serpent with? A foot. What will Josh conquer with? A foot that goes a walking. This is also why 100s years after Joshua the prophet Isaiah said, “How beautiful on mountains are the feet of them that bring good news.” For they are claiming for the Lord every place where they set their feet and preach that good news. This is another reason why the Lord came in our flesh: to claim we who are made of flesh. To walk in our land, claim it, to walk a mile in our shoes, and claim our sins. To get into us by His body and blood and claim us body and soul. This is how the Word made flesh brought faith to His people in His day. He sent preachers. This is how He still works to this day. So, what is Joshua sent to do? Not just be a military leader, but a wandering preacher, preaching into any who will listen salvation in name of the Lord.
So just like at the beginning of the 40 years in the wilderness when Joshua was sent in to spy the land, now spies are sent in again. But as only Josh and Caleb, just 2 of the 12 spies were faithful, now only 2 faithful spies are sent. But they aren’t to spy the land generally, but Jericho specifically. And so they come to Jericho, spying, witnessing of the Lord.
And whom do they meet? Rahab. A woman of the night. They go to her house. Now, normally 2 men going into her house would mean something else. But in this situation they are sent as spies, agents of the Lord to bring salvation to His people, to all who are far off whom the Lord our God will call unto salvation by His mighty word. And lo and behold, this woman of the night repents of her ways, of her city’s wicked ways. She turns her back on it. In faith she confesses to the spies that all in the land have heard of their god, the Lord. They know what He did to Egypt. And to the 2 kings of Amorites on the other side of the Jordan. Everyone is scared. But she isn’t scared. For their God is the god of heaven and earth. The only God. The true God. The God of salvation for those who trust in Him. So she asks them for mercy. In faith she hides and helps them. Advises them. Saves them.
And for those of you who know how the Lord gave the Israelites victory over Jericho you know this is a mighty promise that all in this house will be safe! For where is her house? In the wall of the city. And how does the Lord conquer the city? By miraculously causing the wall to fall down. All except her house where the scarlet cord of promise is.
So these men sent by Jesus, I mean Joshua, bring salvation to them who in hearing of the Lord trust in Him and have faith. And if you don’t know, this Gentile sinner, Rahab, becomes part of their nation. She marries a man of the tribe of Judah, settling around Bethlehem. She births Boaz who married Ruth (more on this in a few weeks). She even becomes the great, great grandmother of King David. And thus an ancestor also of Jesus!
For the Lord’s salvation is not for one nation or another. The Lord’s salvation is not for those who deserve it by their good life. The Lord’s salvation is for sinners like you. It comes to you through Christ’s word of promise. Which repents you of your past, forgiving you and setting you free for your present, promising you a new and glorious land in your future. The Lord’s grace, kills who you were, and raises you up new. It doesn’t do it by the Law of Moses which only has the power to condemn you as the wicked and perverse thing you are. It raises up a new you, in Christ, by the power of His Word which created all things, forgives all things, and led the Israelites into the land. For He is salvation: giving you victory over what you have no power over in your life; giving you His righteousness when you have no goodness of your own. He is your Joshua who has conquered your enemies and granted unto you a home in His eternal kingdom.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
---Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON