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THE POSSESSION OF THE LAND OF CANAAN BY THE ISRAELITES,
THE POSSESSION OF THE LAND OF CANAAN BY THE ISRAELITES, ANOTHER PREPARATORY STEP TOWARDS THE FULFILMENT OF GOD'S PURPOSES IN CHRIST.
We now come to the fulfilment of that part of God's promise to Abraham, which assured him that the land of Canaan should be given to his seed.
Nearly forty years before the period at which we are now arrived, it had been reported by Joshua and Caleb, who with others had been sent to search this land of promise, that it was an exceeding good land, a land that flowed with milk and honey, and which the armies of Israel were able to subdue. It was, therefore, on its
own account, as a rich and fertile country, an object of considerable desire to the Israelites; but it was still more so as the inheritance which God had promised them, as the future birthplace of the Messiah, and as containing the cave where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were buried.
They had long been anxious to enter into this land, to taste its sweets, and enjoy its rest. Most grateful, therefore, to their ears was the command of Joshua, "Prepare your victuals, for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it."* At this gratifying intelligence all was joy and preparation. Every hand flew to its appointed taskevery bosom beat high with hope—and every eye was bright with anticipations of good to come. As soon as the special signal was given, the ark was lifted up, and all Israel moved foreward, and came to the brink of the river. A stupendous miracle was then wrought in their behalf. Jordan was driven back; the waters fled at the presence of the ark of the covenant of God, and the people passed over on dry ground in safety.
* Joshua, i. 11.
This was indeed an astonishing display of God's might in favour of the seed of Abraham; and it was an irresistible attestation to all Israel, that the time was come when his word should be fulfilled. Another evidence that they were brought to the enjoyment of those good things, which the Lord had provided for them, was, that, as soon as they had eaten of the old corn of the land, the manna, which had been their sustenance so long, fell no more from heaven. The food, that was necessary in the wilderness, would have been a superfluity in the land flowing with milk and honey, and yielding abundance of every kind.
In a few years, after numerous victories over the nations, and numerous manifestations of Divine Providence in behalf of his people, they succeeded in possessing themselves of nearly the whole country from Dan to Beersheba, and from Jordan to the Sea. The inheritance was divided among the tribes; and the land of promise was at length given to the seed of Abraham according to the word of the Lord.
This fulfilment of the Divine word was interwoven with the counsel of God in Christ. From the promise to Abraham it was evident that Canaan was to be possessed by his posterity-from the prophecy of Jacob it appeared that Shiloh, who
was to descend from Judah, was not to come till the Israelites should be a distinct nation under a regular government-and from the declaration of Moses we learn that the great prophet to come was to be one of Abraham's descendants. The settlement, therefore, of the Israelites in Canaan was necessary previously to the appearing of the Messiah; and it forms a strong feature in the economy of preparation; for, in order to the accomplishment of prophecy, Shiloh could not come till Judah had his sceptre and lawgiver in that very land.
JOSHUA, A TYPE OF CHRIST.
Joshua was a type of Christ, and Canaan an emblem of heaven. The latter was the place of rest; the former the conductor to it. Joshua and Jesus are words of the same meaning; they signify Saviour. As the one, solemnly commissioned by the Lord for the purpose, led the children of Israel, after all their wanderings, into the land of promise, and with mighty victories established them therein; so the other came from God to bring his holy Church, after all its severe trials in the world, into the mansions of heaven, and to give it therein, through the power and merits of his conquest, an everlasting habitation.
In reviewing the economy of preparation till the death of Joshua, it appears that at first the Redeemer was promised in general terms without any specification of time, place, nation, or family, without any delineation of person or character, and without any intelligence of what actions he was to perform, except that he was to bruise the serpent's head. He was to be a conqueror and a sufferer; a conqueror by suffering, and a sufferer in order to conquest; and both, for the release and deliverance of the captive. At length notice was given that he should be born among a particular people, the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that he should arise in the land of Canaan, and that he should come when Judah's power and privileges as a nation were passing rapidly
Here we have some little intimation with regard to time, place, nation, and family; enough to direct the eye to something particular, something definite, something on which it may rest with certainty; enough to convince us that providence was carrying on some vast design; but not enough to satisfy the mind that longs for elucidation, and is looking for fulfilment. In the prophecies of Balaam and Moses, and in the various types and figures of the law,