A Prophetic Pattern for Our Day
“I am Jehovah. . . . new things I am telling out. Before they begin to spring up, I cause you people to hear them.”—Isa. 42:8, 9.
1. What consideration does Jehovah show in bringing his prophecies to fulfillment?
JEHOVAH is the God of true prophecy. In fulfilling his own prophecies, he moves irresistibly forward with his grand purpose to rid the universe of all rebels. However, it was stated of him in ancient times that “the Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) In modern times, too, God’s servants can be assured that he will give them advance notice of what is about to happen, so that they may act for the salvation of themselves and others.—1 Tim. 4:16.
2, 3. (a) What assures us that events of ancient times have a prophetic meaning ? (b) What were your strongest impressions on reading Joshua chapters one through six?
2 “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching.” (2 Tim. 3:16) This includes, not only the prophecies bearing directly on the settlement of the agelong issue between the two ‘seeds,’ but also many dramatic events directed by Jehovah in the history of his people. Many of these events were for a warning to us today. “Now these things went on befalling them as examples, and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.” (1 Cor. 10:11) Some of these ancient dramas show how God will gain the victory over his foes, and the work we are privileged to do as we share in the victory procession.
3 One such drama is that enacted by Joshua and the nation of Israel in entering the Promised Land. You can read the thrilling account at Joshua chapters one through six. It is suggested that you open your Bible and do this, so as to be better able to appreciate the drama’s impact.
ZEALOUS FOR JEHOVAH’S CAUSE
4. What in Joshua’s background is of interest to us today?
4 Let’s consider something of Joshua’s background. Some forty years earlier, as shown in the Bible account, he joined Caleb in urging the disgruntled Israelites to go up and take possession of the “very, very good land” promised them by Jehovah. Because of their lack of faith, those Israelites perished in the wilderness, but Jehovah preserved Joshua to lead a new generation of Israelites into the land “flowing with milk and honey”—and that at the good old age of about eighty! In this, Joshua was just like many faithful pioneers of advanced years today, who are still leading out in God’s service—a sterling example to others.—Num. 14:6-9; Deut. 31:7, 8.
5. (a) What were some of Joshua’s attributes? (b) How may we become strong, like Joshua?
5 Joshua was a fighter, and that is what we should be—theocratic warriors trained to wield the “sword of the spirit,” the Word of God. (Eph. 6:11-18) Joshua was alert, fearless and thorough in carrying out his assignments, and we can be that way too. For we can draw strength from the same source as did Joshua. We should pay close attention to Jehovah’s words at Joshua 1:7-9, even as Joshua did:
“Only be courageous and very strong to take care to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn aside from it to the right or to the left, in order that you may act wisely everywhere you go. This book of the law should not depart from your mouth, and you must in an undertone read in it day and night, in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely. Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and strong. Do not suffer shock or be terrified, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.”
6. How may we cultivate zeal even greater than Joshua’s?
6 Joshua had God’s law in the form of the first five books of our modern-day Bible and possibly the book of Job. Today, we have some sixty more inspired books—all the prophets, the psalms and the writings of Jesus’ Jewish disciples. As we now peer “into the perfect law that belongs to freedom,” we may become equipped to do works far greater than did Joshua. (Jas. 1:25; John 14:12) Our zeal should even exceed that of Joshua. And certainly we will always be zealous for Jehovah’s cause if we meditate day and night on his Word, diligent in the reading and studying of the inspired Scriptures.
ORGANIZING FOR THEOCRATIC WARFARE
7. (a) When does the drama start to be fulfilled, and why was the remnant of spiritual Israel blessed? (b) How does Joshua appropriately picture Jesus?
7 Jehovah had commanded the conquest of Canaan. Joshua’s faith in Jehovah was immovable, and likewise the Israelites put faith in Joshua, saying to him: “All that you have commanded us we shall do, and wherever you may send us we shall go.” (Josh. 1:16) Following World War I, the remnant of spiritual Israel, in getting reorganized to witness to God’s kingdom, expressed a similar loyalty and willingness, and Jehovah blessed them through the Greater than Joshua, Jesus Christ. How appropriate it is that “Jesus” is the Greek-language equivalent of the Hebrew word “Joshua,” meaning “Jehovah is Salvation.”
8. What are pictured by Canaan and Jericho, and in what way?
8 Joshua now sent two men to spy out Canaan, telling them: “Go, take a look at the land and Jericho.” (Josh. 2:1) “Canaan” means “humbled.” It would appear to picture the land of Satan’s organization, his accursed “seed” on earth. As the firstfruits of conquest, the idolatrous city of Jericho appears to picture “Babylon the Great,” of which Christendom is a principal part, and which is to be ‘completely burned with fire’ when God begins to execute judgment on the present system of things.—Rev. 17:5, 16, 18.
9. What fulfillment was there to the spying in Canaan?
9 Secretly, the two spies entered Jericho and went straight to the house of Rahab, where they took up lodging. En route, they were well able to size up the situation in Canaan and in Jericho. Likewise, as they entered upon their modern-day theocratic warfare, Jehovah’s witnesses came to appreciate clearly, from God’s Word of prophecy, that Satan had a great organization on this earth, of which false religion formed the most corrupt part, and that all of this visible “seed” of Satan was doomed to early destruction.
10. (a) Who is pictured by Rahab? (b) What shows that Rahab had separated from false religion?
10 But whom does Rahab picture? One meaning of her name, besides “wide; broad,” is “at liberty,” by implication, thus indicating that she was one who had broken free from the demonic religion of Canaan. She must also have broken free from her previous profession as a prostitute, else Jehovah would not have directed the spies to her house. (Deut. 23:17, 18) She well represents a class that come out of, and that is scorned by Babylonian religion. This is the class of sheeplike ones that fulfills Jesus’ prophecy at Matthew 25:34-40 in showing kindness to Christ’s brothers. This is the “great crowd,” which, like Rahab, comes to hear of Jehovah’s mighty works and to acknowledge that he is “God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”—Josh. 2:11; Rev. 7:9, 10.
11. (a) How would the spies spend their time with Rahab, and what does this picture? (b) For what does God’s Word commend Rahab?
11 We can be sure that the spies did not spend their time with Rahab in idle talk. What a grand opportunity they had for instructing her concerning God’s law! Jehovah’s anointed witnesses today, also, have been happy to spend time teaching the despised ones of earth concerning God’s way of salvation. In this, they follow Jesus’ example. (Matt. 21:31; 11:19) Rahab was no doubt an industrious worker in flax, but now she was anxious to prove her faith by another kind of work, so that she sought a covenant with the Israelites. For this, God’s Word commends her, saying: “You see that a man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone. In the same manner was not also Rahab the harlot declared righteous by works, after she had received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way?”—Jas. 2:24, 25; Josh. 2:6, 12, 13.
12. (a) How must the “great crowd” act today, as foreshadowed by Rahab? (b) What does the “scarlet cord” represent?
12 In these dangerous “last days,” the “great crowd” must act in cooperation with the anointed remnant of Christ’s brothers and for the protection of them. Moreover, they have an urgent responsibility to teach still others. This is well pictured by Rahab’s harboring the spies and sending them away to a safe hideout in the mountains, as well as in her subsequent zealous action on behalf of her family. But one thing more was required! Rahab had let the spies down from her window by a rope. This “cord of scarlet thread” may have been the same cord that the spies instructed Rahab to tie in her window. Those gathered to her house must remain under the protection of that scarlet thread, not going out lest they incur death, their blood being on their own heads. This reminds of God’s protecting the firstborn of Israel in blood-marked houses at the first Passover, and also of the cities of refuge whereby the unwitting manslayer was freed from execution for bloodguilt. The “scarlet cord” points to God’s provision today for the salvation of the “great crowd,” which provision centers in Jesus’ sacrifice. (Heb. 9:19, 28) Those coming out of Babylon the Great must continue under that provision.
13. What dedicated service did Rahab perform, and how is this prophetic?
13 After the departure of the spies, Rahab must have intensified her efforts in behalf of her household. As a non-Israelite, she would have to make a personal dedication to Jehovah, just like the “great crowd” who cooperate so zealously with the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel in today’s earth-wide Bible education campaign. Probably you are one of these, and you may even have had the thrilling experience of leading some of your own family to safety, through a home Bible study. Or you may have studied with others who have become your “brothers and sisters and mothers and children” in a spiritual way, with the hope of everlasting life in the coming system of things. (Mark 10:30) All of you who have been gathered in dedication to Jehovah through Christ, keep exercising faith on the basis of Jesus’ shed blood. It will mean your salvation, just as the “scarlet cord” spelled out salvation to Rahab and her household!—Josh. 2:17-21; 1 John 1:7.
DIVIDING THE WATERS
14, 15. (a) How did Joshua demonstrate his faith? (b) What miracle now occurred, and what did it picture?
14 Back, now, with the spies, to Joshua’s camp! It was flood time in the Jordan, and the Canaanites must have thought Joshua crazy to attempt a crossing. But Joshua was exercising faith in Jehovah, whose presence with Israel was represented by the ark of the covenant in their midst. Like so many faithful pioneers today, “Joshua got up early in the morning”—to move the vast encampment of millions of Israelites down to the flooding river. Next day, the priests advanced to Jordan’s brink, “carrying the ark of Jehovah, the Lord of the whole earth.” And as the priests’ feet dipped into the river, ‘at that instant’ an amazing thing happened! “Then the waters descending from above began to stand still,” and those descending toward the Salt Sea “were exhausted.”—Josh. 3:1, 13, 15-17.
15 What miraculous proof of Jehovah’s presence with his people! And there is similar proof today. As the peoples of the world reach flood stage, both in numbers and in wickedness, the Christian witnesses of Jehovah have stepped out boldly among them. The Kingdom message has not failed to cause a sharp and conclusive division between the “upper,” righteously inclined people and those bent on hurtling their way with the crowd into Armageddon destruction. Even as the priests carrying the Ark “kept standing immovable on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan as all Israel were passing over,” so Jehovah’s anointed witnesses of modern times have continued “steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord,” while many are thereby enabled to pass over to salvation.—Josh. 3:14-17; 1 Cor. 15:58.
16. What memorial did Joshua then make, and with what modern-day significance?
16 So important did Joshua consider Jehovah’s miracle to be that he took twelve great stones out of Jordan to set up at Gilgal, as a witness to the future generations of Israel. Also, he set twelve other stones in the riverbed, where the Ark-carrying priests’ feet had stood still. Jordan’s swirling waters must ever thereafter pass by those stones of witness. In like manner, the plunging waters of mankind today cannot ignore the worldwide judgment proclamation that has increased to a crescendo since its start in 1919. Are you not glad that you may now share in that witness? It is given “in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Jehovah’s hand, that it is strong; in order that you may indeed fear Jehovah your God always.”—Josh. 4:14-24.
17. What is the condition of the world today, as pictured by Canaan?
17 But did Jehovah’s miracle result in a change of heart for the Canaanites? Far from it! If their “hearts began to melt,” it was only to set in a harder mold. The description of the Canaanites and their practices at Leviticus 18:3, 21-27 and Deuteronomy 18:9-12 shows that they were too deeply submerged in depravity ever to be able to turn with repentant hearts to Jehovah. They were past knowing the power of Jehovah’s spirit. The land could be cleansed only by exterminating them. Today, also, “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” and is continually sinking to new lows of immorality. “The day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men” is at hand! Satan’s entire organization must perish.—Josh. 5:1; 1 John 5:19; 2 Pet. 3:7.
18. What cleansing was necessary, in ancient and in modern times?
18 Warfare for possession of the Promised Land was near! But first God’s own people must be cleansed. The new generation of Israel born in the wilderness had not been circumcised. Their condition remained as a reproach. Hence the males of the entire nation were circumcised at Gilgal, to ‘roll away the reproach of Egypt.’ (Josh. 5:9) In modern times, too, Jehovah’s people have had to undergo the ‘circumcision that is of the heart by spirit,’ which includes a complete cleansing from the filth of Satan’s world and a giving of exclusive devotion to Jehovah in his service. Are you one of those now diligently serving Jehovah in dedication, out of a pure heart?—Rom. 2:29.
19. What is the prophetic significance of the events leading up to the assault on Jericho?
19 What joy must have marked the celebration of the first Passover in the Land of Promise! And now, as Israel began to eat the produce of the land, the miraculous manna, their food for forty years, ceased. In modern times, too, Jehovah’s people, ever appreciative of the sacrifice of the “Lamb of God,” have passed on to more solid spiritual food and to deeper understanding of Jehovah’s grand Word of prophecy. They have been strengthened for spiritual warfare. Just as the “prince of the army of Jehovah,” unquestionably the Logos or “Word” (John 1:1), appeared to strengthen Joshua at this point, so Jehovah’s people today have strengthening assurance from God’s Holy Scriptures that the glorified Christ is with them to lead them in theocratic warfare.—Josh. 5:14, 15.
20. What strange war strategy did Joshua follow, and why?
20 But now we turn to Jericho, a city “tightly shut up” behind massive walls. Fire-scorched ruins that remain till this day tell of the city’s well-nigh impregnable strength. No mere human army could take it by quick assault. But no mere human army ever followed strategy like that now commanded by Jehovah! Israel must march, all the men of war. Once each day, for six days, round the city they must march, with priests, trumpets and the ark of Jehovah going in their midst, and the priests continually blowing on horns. How strange! And how those on Jericho’s walls must have laughed and mocked!—Josh. 6:6-9.
21. How does the courageous marching of Israel find fulfillment?
21 It took courage for those Israelites to march in theocratic order round that great city. And it takes courage for Jehovah’s witnesses today to keep marching round Babylon the Great, with its principal stronghold of Christendom, trumpeting forth the message of doom. But round and round the territory we go, scorning the reproaches, and with strong reliance on Jehovah’s presence with us. The judgment message is God’s, and it proclaims in clear tones that Satan’s organization of false religion is actually to “crash in ruins.” Only a “holy seed” that carries forward the pure, true worship of Jehovah God is to remain.—Isa. 6:11-13.
22. What does Israel’s obedience to Joshua’s command foreshadow?
22 Joshua had commanded the people: “You must neither shout nor let your voices be heard, and no word should come out of your mouths until the day when I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you must shout.” (Josh. 6:10) In modern times, too, Jehovah’s witnesses zealously trumpet forth “this good news” of God’s established kingdom, but without engaging in shouting matches or entering into angry debate with the hardened opposers in Christendom. A “great chasm” now divides these from the true worshipers of God. (Luke 16:26) However, honest-hearted individuals may still escape from Babylonish religion. But they must act, and act quickly, as did Rahab and her household.—Zeph. 2:3.
THE CLIMAX OF THE MARCH
23. (a) Why was the seventh day unusual? (b) How do Jehovah’s witnesses react to the meaning of the times, and with what assurance?
23 It is now the seventh day for marching. Could this be a day for “sleeping in,” or for taking things easy due to the length of the march? Far from it! There had been no sabbath of rest during the six days, nor was this seventh day to be a sabbath. This day “they proceeded to get up early, as soon as the dawn ascended.” Now they must march round the city seven times just on one day! Why, this final effort was to be more than that of all the previous days put together! (Josh. 6:15) And today, with less than seven years remaining to the end of six thousand years of human history, and with all the prophetic evidence that Christendom is about to be shaken from her proud foundations, are we not fired with zeal to get round our territory seven times and more? Time is short, and the message must be sounded! It is no time for drooping hands or wobbling knees. (Zeph. 3:16, 17; Isa. 35:3, 4) As we give our all in his service, we can be confident that Jehovah, the God who “does not tire out or grow weary,” will be in our very midst to strengthen us, just as the ark of Jehovah’s presence was in the midst of Joshua’s marching army. He will continue to infuse power into us as the final march intensifies.—Isa. 40:28.
24. How may we now share in the stepped-up activity of the “seventh day”?
24 Grand instruments for ‘horn-blowing’ in this final march are the magazines The Watchtower and Awake!, which now have a combined circulation of over 11,400,000 copies each issue, being published twice a month in all major languages of the earth. Can you intensify your share in distributing these magazines as the end draws close? And can you be just as diligent as was Rahab in expanding your study work, making good use of the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life and other study literature, together with the Bible as key textbook? Rahab was no doubt quick to observe the stepped-up marching of the Israelites on the seventh day, so that she would redouble her efforts to bring in all her family. As we today read the signs of false religion’s approaching destruction, we should likewise redouble efforts to gather in all our own family members, as well as others who may yet become part of God’s earthly family.—Eph. 3:14-16.
25. What climaxed the victory march, and of what can we be sure today?
25 Rahab’s family had been gathered in. As the complete “seven times” of marching drew to its end, the horn-blowing rose to its final crescendo. Now Joshua commanded: “Shout; for Jehovah has given you the city.” (Josh. 6:16) As the people began to shout “a great war cry,” Jericho’s walls were thrown crashing to the ground, and Israel rushed straight up to the city, to devote man and animal to destruction. Only Rahab and her family members survived the holocaust alive! What form, in fulfillment, the final victory shout will take, we do not yet know. Nor do we know its timing. (Matt. 24:36-39) But we can be sure that the work of proclaiming God’s judgments, and of teaching Bible truth to the meek, will prosper and increase up to the final climax. What a privilege it will be then for God’s people to share in that great cry of victory, and to see the modern citadel of false religion topple to its doom, never to rise again! Like Jericho, it will be cursed for all time.—Josh. 6:20, 26; 1 Ki. 16:34.
26. What prospect lies before the “great crowd” today, and how was this pictured?
26 But the survivors, like those who came out of Jericho’s destruction through exercising faith in the “cord of scarlet thread,” may look forward to rich blessings of everlasting life by virtue of Christ’s ransom sacrifice. They will continue to ‘dwell’ as God’s favored people, even as was pictured by Rahab and her household of old: “And Rahab the prostitute and the household of her father and all who belonged to her, Joshua preserved alive; and she dwells in the midst of Israel down to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent out to spy on Jericho.” All those of the “great crowd” who cooperate with the remnant of Christ’s brothers in the great preaching and teaching work of this modern-day judgment period can expect similar favor from Jehovah.—Josh. 6:25.
27. What qualities should we now display, and what blessings like Rahab’s may the “great crowd” enjoy?
27 Oh, may we ever display the same sterling quality of faith that characterized Joshua, all Israel and Rahab and her household in those momentous times! Strong faith, coupled with obedience, had its reward: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who acted disobediently, because she received the spies in a peaceable way.” (Heb. 11:30, 31) And Rahab had a further grand reward, in that Salmon—perhaps one of the two spies—took her as wife, so that she bore him Boaz, one of the fleshly line leading to the Promised Seed. Those who serve today with faith like that of Rahab also have grand privileges in spiritual companionship with those called to be part of the “seed” through “faith in Christ Jesus.”—Gal. 3:26-29.
28. What urgent privilege may true Christians now enjoy, and with what prospect?
28 “So Jehovah proved to be with Joshua, and his fame came to be in all the earth.” (Josh. 6:27) Jehovah will likewise be with the “Seed,” Christ Jesus, as he fights to overthrow “Babylon the Great,” including Christendom, and then the rest of the Canaan-like “seed” or organization of Satan, all to the vindication of Jehovah’s holy name. True Christians on earth today may rejoice in their urgent privilege of proclaiming the certain doom of Satan’s crowd, and of tenderly leading honest-hearted persons in the way to protection and salvation. May Jehovah strengthen you for your own part in this grand work during the last “seven times” around modern Jericho!
[Picture on page 597]
Jericho’s walls crashed in ruins. Rahab and her household alone survived because of faith in the “scarlet cord.” Do you show a similar lifesaving faith today?