The Joshua chapter three uses rich typology to teach us the subject of the fullness of the Spirit. Through this chapter God shows us the fullness of the Spirit is entered into by experiencing death to our own plans, and desires at Shittim. Followed by burial by learning from God, and waiting on God at Jordan. Then finally resurrection as we step out on God’s revealed will, in the fullness of God’s power and presence into our promised land (the victorious Christian life).
To better understand the validity of a typological application of Joshua chapter three one must understand that history of the Children of Israel is a rich type of the Christian life. Israel’s time in bondage in Egypt was symbolic of a man’s life before Christ when he was enslaved to our sin, and serving a cruel master Satan. Next, Salvation is demonstrated in the Passover as the application of the spotless lamb’s blood allows God to Passover our sins, and give us mercy. Then Baptism is exemplified in the crossing of the Red Sea followed by a time of testing, in the desert.
These our all necessary precursors to God’s intent for us the Promised land. The promised land was never intended to be a picture of Heaven because the enemy is still in the land, and there are battles to be fought. The promised land is a rich type of the Christian’s duty to defeat the enemy, and establish God’s kingdom here on this earth.
This brings us necessarily then to subject of crossing the Jordan which is required before experiencing the Promised Land. Before one will ever be ready to conquer the enemy they must go through God’s ordained process to receive the fullness of His power so that he can fight the battle.
The process to obtaining the fullness of the Spirit is visually demonstrated in the ordinance of Baptism. In Romans 6 we are given a picture of the victorious Christian life in verses 3-4 Paul says,
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Here we can see clearly that must die with Christ, be buried with Christ, and be resurrected with Christ.
The first step of fullness of the Spirit, dying with Christ is illustrated throughout Joshua three. The first illustration of our dying is in the word picture of the word Shittim. In Joshua chapter three the children of Israel start their journey in a place called Shittim, which means, place of the acacias.
Acacia wood is spiritually significant on two levels first of all the tabernacle of the Old Testament was built using acacia wood for the structure, and furnishings. Secondly the acacia tree is covered thorns like the ones used to compose the crown placed upon Christ head at his crucifixion.
Thus Shittim is a place of identifying with Jesus Christ’s death upon the cross. Websters Dictionary defines the word identify as, to cause to be or become identical. Or the attribution to yourself (consciously or unconsciously) of the characteristics of another person (or group of persons). So when we identify with Christ, and his death we are freely admitting that we are willing to die to self so that the life of Christ might be lived through us.
Shittim represents the great identity crisis that Christians face before they experience the fullness of the Spirit. Romans 12:1 shows this dilemma when it says,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
These verses present a choice will one identify with Jesus Christ, or will they identify with the world? The path to usefulness for God requires identifying with Jesus Christ by dying (living sacrifice) to the world system, and its ideals.
The choice of whether to die to the world, or live unto God brings us to the fulcrum of man’s will. God wants us to experience the fullness of the Spirit filled life, but he will not violate or wills. We must choose, and he has as all the ability, and desire to bring us into the abundant life.
In verse one of this chapter Joshua typifies the willful choice to deny self when he rises, “early in the morning.” God’s plan for the children of Israel required self denial, and crucifixion of the flesh. Sleep is one of our most basic needs, by putting God’s will above his basic needs Joshua was choosing to crucify self and yield to the Spirit.
The phrase “they commanded” in verse three illustrates clearly the next step of the crucifixion process, “the death of ones agenda.” Every fallen man in world history has had an innate desire to be his own master, but God has established authority. Romans 13:1 tells us that, “all powers that be are ordained of God.” What this means that all earthly, and spiritual authorities are instruments of God to maintain spiritual, and governmental authority. These facts make obedience to the commands of authority an important litmus test of the thoroughness of our death to self.
The next phase of crucifixion is explained in verse 5 when Joshua said, “sanctify yourselves.” Websters defines sanctify as, to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use. Another common Old Testament use of the word sanctify is instructive. In the Tabernacle there were instruments said call sanctified that might also be found in other houses, or buildings. What made these items sacred, or holy was the fact that they were dedicated especially to use for sacred sacrifices. In identifying with Christ we are dedicating our bodies for the use of the master however he should choose.
The next step towards Spirit fullness listed in Joshua chapter three is the lonely tomb. Much of spirit filled life theology focuses on our being crucified, and resurrected with Christ, but little is said about the tomb. In Joshua 3:2 the Bible says, “it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host.” After arriving at Shittim the place of crucifixion the Israelites had to rest for three days according to the direction of the Lord. This is a clear allusion to Christ period of rest in the tomb after His crucifixion.The tomb is a picture of our rest in Christ before Christ manifests his resurrection power in our lives. Rest is defined as,
as getting repose by lying down and sleeping, to get refreshment for the body. The term also emphasizes the act of ceasing or leaving off, to desist from labor or exertion. It also has the nuance of being free from that which is binding, confining, wearying or disturbing. Spatially it means to be quiet or still, to remain in the same place or condition, to be fixed or settled.
Combined, these concepts indicate a state in which one is not bothered by external pressures, does not work or labor, but enjoys a settled status of relaxation, tranquility, peace, and serenity. In the spiritual sense, rest is used to denote this great condition in all the stages of salvation.
The primary point of the doctrine of rest is that sinful man is unable to attain, or maintain a meaningful relationship with God apart from God’s divine enablement through His grace. Man’s fallen state and God’s absolute righteousness makes attaining salvation, or sanctification an impossibility, and our works to obtain salvation a grief to God. The problem is man has a natural desire to work for God’s favor, but if we as Christians would experience fullness we must learn the stillness and waiting of resting in the tomb.
There are three phases of the tomb listed in this chapter
a. Look at the Ark (Fixing your eyes on Jesus)
b. Hear the Word (Listening for your destiny)
c. Stand Still at the Brink (Waiting on the Lord)
The first phase looking at the ark is listed in verse 3, “When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.” The ark was a visible symbol of God’s power, and presence and a foreshadowing of our relationship with Jesus Christ. In the times when we are waiting for God to act, in the tomb, these are the times we must fix our gaze on Jesus Christ. A deep abiding, and growing relationship with Jesus Christ is foundational for Spirit fullness.
The next phase discussed is hearing the word, or listening for your destiny. Verse 9 Joshua says to the children of Israel, “…come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God.” Joshua then goes on to relate the many wonders, and miracles that comprise the coming destiny of Israel. Romans 10:17 says, So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. God is constantly speaking our destiny to us through preaching, the Bible, and intuition.When we are listening to the Lord speak it strengthens our confidence in His ability to bring our destiny to pass.
The Last phase of the tomb is standing still at the brink, or waiting on the Lord. In verse 15 the Bible says, “the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water.” The Children of Israel had looked unto Jesus, listened for their destiny, they now knew who to serve, and where to go but still had to wait at the brink. Often we can run ahead of God if were not careful when we know what his will is. Waiting for God’s timing is as important as knowing God’s will.
The final stage of the Spirit’s fullness is the resurrected life symbolized by passing over Jordan into the land of promise. When we have taken up our cross, and followed Christ, and waited on His power we are now ready to receive God’s promise of the Father from Acts 1:1-5 the fullness of the spirit.
The act of passing over the Jordan symbolizes three steps in the Christian life: stepping out in faith, experiencing the fullness of the Spirit, and living the victorious Christian life. The first phase stepping out in faith is symbolized in verse 15 when it says, “the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water.” H.A. Ironside explains,
“God’s command to the priests was, “When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan ye shall stand still in Jordan.” What a test of faith this must have been! But it was God’s Word and must be acted upon. Only thus could the way be opened for Israel to go dry-shod into Canaan, and only through the death of Christ could a way be opened for us to enter into the rest that remains for the people of God.“
When God has spoken our destiny, and matured us to the point of faith in Himself we must then step out in faith. The priests had to by faith dip their feet into the water. We likewise once God’s timing has come must step out in faith with confidence that God is with us in His fullness.
The next phase of this process is the bearing of the ark, or the walking out the fullness of the Spirit. Verse 15 says the priests “bore the ark” into the promised land. The ark was the symbol of God’s presence we must never try to advance into enemy territory without taking the Lord with us. It is He who fights the battle but we must bring Him to the battle.
The final phase is passing over and beyond, or living the victorious Christian life. This process of “crossing the Jordan” is not the end, but only the beginning. When we have the fullness of the Spirit we are ready to “slay our giants,” and battle our Jericho’s. The Christian life is a life of rest, but it also a life of warfare when we are experiencing the fullness of the Spirit we have the basic prerequisite needed for spiritual warfare.
In conclusion we have seen that Joshua chapter three is a rich type of the obtaining of the fullness of the Spirit. Throughout this chapter we saw beautiful pictures of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. We further saw that obtaining Spirit fullness is a three step process: the death of self, the lonely tomb, and the resurrected life.