The Power of His Resurrection
In Philippians 3:10-12, the Apostle Paul states the following: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”
Paul tells us that the historical fact of the Resurrection of Jesus has the power to change us! Firstly, as a result of the Resurrection, we can actually know Jesus personally – if your heart is still beating that should stagger you and become your new no#1 goal in life! Secondly, by understanding what Jesus did for us in laying down His life in obedience to His Father, we can, in the same way, lay down the right to our own lives to God and begin to live… not merely ‘be alive’ but really begin to live the abundant life Jesus spoke of (John 10:10). Paul then tells us the reason Christ ‘took hold’ of us was so that we might ‘take hold’ of Him. By giving ourselves to Him, He gives Himself to us! Jesus loves you and wants an intimate relationship with you… but it has to be on His terms, because only He knows what is best for us.
To try to understand this incredible proposition we are going to look at a model found in the Old Testament book of Joshua – written around 1500 years before the time of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The model itself is yet further proof of the supernatural origin and design of the Bible; only a God who is outside of time could record events with such precision before they happen. God Himself lays this challenge before any sceptic: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
Models in Advance
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul’s definitive chapter on the subject of the resurrection, he makes the point that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus had been foretold and recorded in advance in the Old Testament scriptures (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). We could actually go back to Genesis chapter 3 to get the first hint of Christ’s victory over Satan on the cross; but then in Genesis 22 we have the dramatic acting-out (two thousand years in advance) of the events of the crucifixion and resurrection. Abraham (a type of God the Father) is told to “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of” (Genesis 22:2). As we consider this, we start to see that, whilst being a real event that occurred in the life of Abraham, It was also a ‘model’ or ‘type’ of God the Father who, 2000 years later, gave up His only son for mankind.
This model becomes even more remarkable when we realise that the place that Abraham was told to offer up Isaac (on top of Mount Moriah), was later to be known as Golgotha, the very spot where Jesus was to be crucified. Abraham renamed the place: “Jehovah-jireh” which means, “In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Gen 22:14). Thus, it would seem that Abraham actually realised he was acting out prophecy, anticipating what was to come. This is confirmed in Hebrews 11:17-19: “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son; of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
From the account in Genesis 22, we know that an innocent ram was eventually sacrificed in the place of Isaac, and again in this we see a model in anticipation of Jesus who, like that innocent ram, was sacrificed in our place so that, like Isaac, we too could go free.
Before we come to our text in the book of Joshua, there is one other model we need to consider, for that will lay an important foundation.
The 7 Feasts of Israel
God, through Moses, led the Children of Israel out of Egypt through the Red sea and gave them seven Feasts (holy festivals) that they were to celebrate each year to continually remind them of what God had done for them, as wells as His continued provision and their obligation to be holy before their God. Various passages of scripture outline the Feasts and their purpose, such as Exodus 12:14-17 / Leviticus 23 :4-44 / Deuteronomy 16:1-16.
The 7 feasts in the order that they were to occur each year are as follows:
- The Feast of Passover (14th of the 1st month Abib – our March/April time)
- The Feast of Unleavened bread (15th of the 1st month Abib)
- The Feast of Firstfruits (celebrated on the Sunday following the Passover)
- The Feast of Harvest (also known as the Festival of Weeks / Pentecost – celebrated 50 days after Firstfruits)
- The Feast of Trumpets (the 1st day of the 7th month)
- The Feast of Atonement (the 10th day of the 7th month)
- The Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Ingathering – celebrated on 15th day of the 7th month)
These feasts had a practical / spiritual significance to Israel during their time in the wilderness and later when they entered the promised land; but as we will discover, these feasts were also supernaturally designed to be ‘a shadow of things to come’ (Col 2:17), prophetically looking forward to events that would take place many years in the future.
As compelling evidence of God’s Divine design throughout the Bible, these feasts were intended by God to be models that find their fulfilment in:
- The crucifixion and death of Jesus – Passover
- His burial and victory over sin and death – Feast of Unleavened Bread
- His resurrection – Feast of Firstfruits
- The birth and subsequent rapture of the Church – Pentecost
- God’s judgement during the Tribulation – Feast of Trumpets
- God’s purging of Israel during the tribulation – Feast of Atonement
- and finally: Tabernacles. The regathering of the Jews back to the land of Israel (Feast of Ingathering) when Jesus returns to establish His millennial kingdom and ‘tabernacle’ among us.
Thus, they paint a picture that spans the whole of human history from the birth of the nation of Israel to the beginning of the millennial kingdom of Jesus.
All of these Feasts are really worth studying, but it is the first three that are of significance in this study.
The Feast of Passover
For 400 years the Children of Israel were ‘sojourners’ without a land of their own, a fact that had been prophetically revealed to Abraham in a dream (Genesis 15:13). The last 215 years of this time had been spent in Egypt; firstly in prosperity and blessing during the time of Joseph, but toward the end of this time ‘there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph’ (Exodus 1:8). This new Pharoah treated Israel harshly, eventually prompting them to cry to the LORD for deliverance. Just as God had promised Abraham, when the time was right, his descendants would return to the land of Canaan, leaving Egypt with great wealth. We know from Exodus chapters 3 through 12 that God called Moses and sent him before Pharaoh with the request that Abraham’s descents, the Children of Israel, be allowed to leave the land of Egypt. Pharaoh repeatedly refused despite being sent plagues that all but destroyed the land.
Finally God said to Moses: “Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether……Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more” (Exodus 11:1-6).
Thus, as a judgment for the way Egypt had treated God’s ‘firstborn’ (i.e. Israel), the firstborn of all the Egyptians would die (see Exodus 4:22-23). However, as God had done throughout all the other plagues, He made a way for the people of Israel to be protected.
“And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:” (Exodus 12:1-3).
“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it” (Exodus 12:5-7).
“……it is the LORD’s passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:11b-13).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
In Leviticus we read: “ the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD:” (Leviticus 23:6). This Feast of Unleavened Bread, although being part of the seven-day period where unleavened bread was to be eaten, was itself to be a distinct Feast and observed in its own right.
The Feast of Firstfruits
Leviticus 23:10-11 also details the Feast of Firstfruits. This was to occur on the day after the Sabbath. “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.” It is clear from the context that this Feast was to be on the day after the Sabbath that followed the Passover, in other words, always on a Sunday.
So we see from all of this that we have 4 specific markers:
- The 10th day of the 1st month – when the lamb was to be taken
- The 14th of the 1st month – when the lamb was to be slain
- The 15th of the month – to mark the eating of unleavened bread (leaven is analogous to sin, so it speaks of the removal of sin)
- The Sunday (the first day of the week), following the Passover was to be the Feast of Firstfruits. As this Feast was fixed to a specific day (i.e. Sunday), the actual date would change from year to year (much like Easter does for us). It could occur as early as the 16th (if the Passover fell on a Friday), or as late as the 22nd (if the Passover fell on a Saturday Sabbath), but always on a Sunday. In the year of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection the Feast of Firstfruits fell on the 17th of the 1st month.
With a little diligent study we can ascertain that it was on the 10th day of the Jewish month that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the day we now celebrate as Palm Sunday (in precise fulfilment of Daniel 9:24-25). This was the day the Lamb of God was ‘taken’ by the people as they waived palm branches and hailed Him their king.
It was then on the 14th (the Feast of Passover) that Jesus was crucified as a spotless Lamb, bearing the sins of the world, thus becoming our Passover Lamb, His blood being shed to purchase our freedom from the slavery of sin.
It is important to note that the Jewish day begins in the evening (Genesis 1:5), so as the evening began on the 14th, the next Jewish day – the Feast of Unleavened Bread – started. From the gospels we know that Jesus died at 3pm and His body remined on the cross for a short while before being requested by, and then laid in, Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb; yet because the new day was about to begin, there was not enough time to properly anoint Jesus’ body for burial – which is why the woman planned to return at the earliest opportunity (after the Sabbath’s had passed) to complete the anointing procedure. Just a week before this, Jesus Himself had prophetically said: “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24), and so on the 15th, as the Feast of Unleavened Bread began, Jesus’ body, which had borne our sin, was being laid in the ground as a grain of wheat (from which bread is made).
Paul declares: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7)
The Feast of Unleavened Bread (15th) – which fell on the Friday – was a ‘high sabbath’ where no work was permitted under the Jewish Law. The next day (Saturday 16th) was the regular Jewish Sabbath, again, where no work was permitted. This meant that the earliest opportunity for the woman to return to the tomb and anoint Jesus’ body did not occur until Sunday 17th, the first day of the week. We know from Mark’s gospel that: “when the sabbath[s were] past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun” (Mark 16:1-2). This is of course the day of the resurrection! …and as the first Sunday following the Passover it would also be the Feast of Firstfruits. Thus, on the Feast of Firstfruits “is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
The Model in Joshua
With all the detail we have just seen, you might be wondering what the connection is with the Book of Joshua? Well, it is simple and yet profound!
We begin in Joshua 4:19 where we read: “And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho”.
Yes! The triumphant day the Children of Israel finally crossed over the Jordan and entered the Promised Land, receiving their future kingdom, was the anniversary in advance of the very same day Jesus entered Jerusalem and was received as Israel’s future King! Of course, for Israel the adulation quickly stopped and they crucified their King. But He will return to sit on the throne of David and rule over Israel and the whole earth (Luke 1:32-33).
Next, we move onto Joshua 5:10, and there we read: “And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho”. The fact that they kept the Passover may not come as much of a surprise – they were simply following the Torah, but look at the detail! They celebrated and ate their Passover lamb ‘in Gilgal… in the plains of Jericho’. Their Passover lamb was killed in a place (Gilgal) synonymous with sacrifice and literally right in full view of their enemy. On the future anniversary of the very same day Jesus was offered up as The sacrificial Lamb, also in a place synonymous with sacrifice (Calvary – see again Genesis 22:13-14), and in full view of ‘principalities and powers’, making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over Satan and forever declaring His victory as Christ declared ‘It is finished’! – Literally in the Greek: ‘Paid in full’! (see Colossians 2:15)
As the inhabitants of Jericho looked on, barricaded within their seemingly impenetrable walls, they must have been shaken and somewhat unnerved to see Israel having a celebration and a feast right in front of thier faces! Israel’s first Passover celebration in the Promised Land was itself looking forward to the ultimate Lamb whose blood would be shed to make atonement for sin once and for all!
But there is more!
Joshua 5:11 tells us: “And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day”. For 40 years the Children of Israel had eaten Manna, the food God had miraculously provided during the wilderness wanderings. Now, on the 15th day of the first month, the very day they were supposed to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they were able – for the first time – to do just that, with unleavened bread! Unleavened bread speaks of a life without sin, that is only possible for us because Christ became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). But notice once again the detail here: it was the ‘old corn of the land‘. Through Christ’s death (on the 14th) and burial (on the 15th) ‘old things’ are to pass away, all things are to become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). As Paul asks us: “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2). “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7).
Paul goes on to say: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:11-14)
For the Children of Israel with Joshua, after the 14th and 15th came… the 16th! “And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land” (Joshua 5:12a). So, they ate the old corn on the 15th, and the last time Manna fell, the day it ceased, was the next day, the 16th. (If it didn’t fall on the 16th it would have been said to have ceased on the 15th). Why is this significant? Because it means that the 16th represented the old order of things; from ‘tomorrow’ everything would be different. The verse continues: “neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year” (Joshua 5:12b). This is incredible! From the 17th onwards – the exact date of the Feast of Firstfruits in the year of the Resurrection, and the very day of the Resurrection itself, Israel ate the fruit of the Land! This was a new beginning for Israel, they were finally back in the Land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and living off its bounty!
For us, the 17th, the Feast of Firstfruits, the day of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ marks an awesome new beginning! It was also the exact same day that Noah’s Ark finally came rest on the Earth again at the end of the flood – signifying a new beginning for mankind!
Because Christ rose from the dead, we can have certainty that our sins are forgiven (1 Corinthians 15:17), that He will one day come and receive us to Himself (John 14:1-3) and that we will also be resurrected, these mortal, corruptible bodies being changed into glorious incorruptible bodies fit for eternity (see 1 Corinthians 15:35-57).
Just as Israel were able to put behind them the struggle they had endured getting to this place, so we can put behind us the struggle we endured before we came to know the risen Christ. In Christ we are no longer dependant on the old ways; the things we once held dear (Philippians 3:7), the things that once susstained and satisfied us. Old things are gone, all things have become new! “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11).
The Resurrection of Jesus changes everything! That is why it is so powerfull; but remember again the verse from Philippians we began with: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection [the power to forgive our sins He sealed on the 14th as our Passover], and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death [that we too would be dead to sin, being ‘Unleavened‘, our old life being buried as Christ was on the 15th]; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead [just as Christ rose again on the 17th becoming the Firstfruits of those who will rise!]. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:10-12)
There is one final lesson for us from Joshua, and that is how we are to follow:
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:12-15) .
When Joshua meets the Captain of the host of the Lord (this is the 2nd Person of the Trinity whom you and I know as Jesus!), he begins by asking if He is on Joshua’s side. The LORD does not say, “Yes Joshua, I’m here to help you in your quest”. The answer probably took Joshua by surprise. In effect the answer given is, “No Joshua, I’ve come to see if you are on My side!”
The Resurrection is not so that we can have Jesus on our side, it’s so we can now be on His! The battle is His, not ours. His is the victory.
And what is it that Joshua does? He worships! That is the end-game. His death, burial and Resurrection are so that we might worship Him. Worship Him with our thoughts, our actions, our lives. Worship Him in all we say and all we do; in all we hope for and all we hold dear. He will then go before us and fight the battles! He alone is the Risen , Conquering, Son. Endless is the victory He over death has won!
May you be blessed and encouraged by this study to a deeper walk with our Risen Saviour.