Joshua and Jesus: And the Walls Came Tumbling Down
Jun 11, 2023 679
Have you heard about Joshua and Jesus?
Even if you don’t go to church regularly now, you might perhaps remember the story of Joshua and Jericho from when you were a child. It’s a rollicking good story, with the people of God facing an impossible situation, and God coming to their help in a really dramatic way!
But what you might not have realised is that the story isn’t really about the city of Jericho or about Joshua – at least not the Joshua in the Old Testament.
You see, the well-known name “Jesus” is the same as the Hebrew name “Joshua.” Both versions of this name are just the English versions of the original names in Greek and Hebrew. The name “Jesus” is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Joshua.” You might not have realised that Jesus is in the Old Testament, but he is!
In fact, the name Jesus means, “Jehovah is salvation.” As the angel said to Mary,
“you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21.)
In the Old Testament, Joshua also saved his people, not from their sins, but from their enemies, the Canaanites. The key act through which Joshua saved his people was by bringing them into the Promised Land and conquering the city of Jericho to do so.
The Story of Joshua is Actually the Story of Jesus
We also have a promised land to look forward to:
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13.)
We also have strongholds of evil to conquer before we get there:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Cor 3:5).
The one who goes before us and leads us is the true Joshua, who,
having disarmed the powers and authorities… made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col 2:15.)
Something that you might not know, and which is very significant, is that Joshua’s crossing of the Jordan to begin his conquest of the Promised Land, and the baptism of Jesus to begin his ministry, occurred at the same spot. This was on the Jordan River, just opposite Jericho.
Today this place is known as Qasr el Yahud. There are many places claimed to be the baptismal site of Jesus in Israel and Jordan, however many of them have been designated as such for touristic or political reasons. However, the oldest and most traditional site for the baptism of Jesus is Qasr el Yahud, about 3.3 km east of Highway 90, opposite Jericho.
Jesus is Still Demolishing the Walls of Pain and the Barriers that Divide in the Lives of People Today
It was here, right where the first Joshua crossed over to conquer the promised land for God’s children, that the second Joshua also crossed over to conquer eternity for us all. The baptism marks the point in time when Jesus left behind his “ordinary” life as a carpenter in Nazareth and commenced his ministry.
Jesus, the one in whom God dwelt fully, went before the people to conquer the land for them. In the same way, in the time of Joshua, the priests carried the ark, where the presence of God dwelt, across the river, before the people. When Joshua had crossed the Jordan, God honoured him before the people, and Joshua appointed twelve men to lay down an altar of twelve stones as a memorial of what God had done. In the same way, after Jesus had crossed the Jordan and commenced his ministry, he selected twelve men who would become foundation stones in his living temple (Eph. 2:20.).
Just as the first Joshua brought down the walls of Jericho, the second Joshua brought down the strongholds of death and sin, and vanquished them completely. You can read in Joshua 6:20 how the walls of Jericho came down when the people gave a “loud shout,” and Matt. 27:50 tells us that Jesus died, with a “loud cry”. It was that cry that announced our victory.
It is amazing to see how these two crossings of the Jordan River, approximately 1,500 years apart, mirror each other so clearly. That’s because the first Joshua pointed to the second Joshua (Jesus.) It illustrates how, in the end, just as Jesus said, the whole of the Bible points to him.
The good news is that Jesus is still demolishing the walls of pain and the barriers that divide in the lives of people today. He can do that for you too!
– Eliezer Gonzalez