“Things separate from their stories have no meaning. They are only shapes. Of a certain size and color. A certain weight. When their meaning has become lost to us they no longer have even a name. The story on the other hand can never be lost from its place in the world for it is that place.” ~Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing

“I confused things with their names: that is belief.” ~Jean-Paul Sartre, The Words

As a Christian, I believe that the bible is the inerrant Word of God, and everything written within it points to Christ. Recently, my interests have me delving deeper into the meanings behind the names of biblical figures, and better understanding how many biblical figures are “types of Christ.” For a biblical figure to be considered a “type of Christ,” suggests that their part within the bible story in some way foreshadows or reflects the person of Christ.

When conducting a deep investigation into scripture, it becomes more and more apparent that Christ is everywhere within the bible—and especially present within the names and deeds of prominent biblical figures. It is my intention to eventually build a series of blog posts that focus on how individuals from the bible serve as a type of Christ. Unlike some of my other posts, these are not intended to be (near) exhaustive, nor do I intend for them to be extraordinarily long. Rather, these particular posts will be designed more as thought starters. As I build out this series of posts, I hope that it helps those who read them see how the person of Christ is interwoven throughout scripture. In achieving this end, it should reinforce the sovereignty of our God—how His plan is always being enacted, regardless if we are privy to His presence. And it should point out that God is always involved when our deeds involve doing good and glorifying Him.

Joshua seems like a great biblical figure to examine first in this regard, given that he and Jesus share a first name. What you say? They don’t? Not so fast young Padawan, learn still you must…

  • The translated names of Joshua and Jesus originate from the name “Yehoshua,” meaning “The Lord is salvation.” Joshua is the translation of the name from Hebrew into English, while Jesus is the translation of the name from Greek into English. And, as mentioned earlier, the meaning of prominent biblical figures’ names are relevant to their purpose in God’s story…
  • Joshua and Jesus are both shepherds of God’s chosen people—and both were chosen by God, not man. Jesus came from humble beginnings, and was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joshua, the son of Nun, was not a son of Moses, or from the family of Aaron, or from the tribe of Judah. And while not conceived by the Holy Spirit, he was a man in whom the Holy Spirit resided. Both were set apart for the work God had appointed for them…
  • While God appointed both Joshua and Jesus to be shepherds of His people, both were preceded by prophets of the people who announced them God’s choice for bringing His people to rest. For Joshua, it was Moses. For Jesus, it was John the Baptist…
  • And as God exalted Jesus in the Jordan River while being baptized by John, Joshua was exalted at the Jordan River as well—God showing that His power and presence were with these men. In some ways, it functions as how God confirms the ministry of both men to His people…
  • As Jesus came to conquer sin, so too did Joshua serve to conquer the enemies of God’s people. Joshua’s victories over all kings and their lands foreshadows the permanent conquest later achieved by Jesus. Joshua defeats God’s foes in combat of the flesh, while Jesus defeats sin through the sacrifice of His flesh—by power of the Spirit.
  • And that which would be considered foolish to men—a weak instrument—would be used to destroy that which had appeared powerful. Joshua, by means of a rams’ horns, felled the walls of Jericho. Similarly, Jesus, through His Word—the power of the gospel—overcomes the strongholds of sin and death…
  • Joshua also foreshadows the extension of salvation to the Gentiles through his protection and inclusion of Rahab—a harlot—as a member of God’s people. The scarlet thread that preserves her during the fall of Jericho can be seen as a representation of Christ’s blood delivering His people from their sin. And it would be through her bloodline that Jesus would be born into this world as a child.
  • Like Jesus, Joshua—in his position of authority—continually blesses those with less authority than he. An example of this is when Joshua bestows upon Caleb Hebron as an inheritance.
  • Joshua also bring his people to Canaan, a land of beauty that would foreshadow Christ leading His followers on a path to heaven.
  • Another parallel between Joshua and Jesus is that they do not leave their legacy to biological offspring. The bible makes no mention of Joshua having wife or child. Jesus dies a single man, with no wife or family…

Joshua, however, is not Christ, but a “type of Christ.” He is but a foreshadowing of Him who was (and is) to come. Jesus is THE Christ. He is a better Joshua (Hebrews 4). While Joshua leads Israel into the Promised Land, Christ leads His followers into permanent rest with God—fulfills all of God’s promises. Where Joshua has the Holy Spirit as a guide, and he does great work through the Spirit—his victories are not permanent, but temporal. The work of Jesus, however, is eternal. It is forever…

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