Life-Study of Joshua, Judges & Ruthby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
When I was young, I was taught many things concerning the three books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, but I was not told that this section of the history in the Old Testament is in line with God’s economy. The Bible presents a full picture of God’s economy from His creation of the universe to the consummation of the New Jerusalem. The first two chapters of the Bible are on God’s creation with man, created in God’s image and according to His likeness, as the center. In the last two chapters we have the new heaven and new earth with the New Jerusalem, the corporate expression and manifestation of the Triune God mingled with His redeemed people for eternity. Many things occur between these two ends, but all are linked to God’s economy—mainly concerning Christ and His counterpart, the church. The church as Christ’s Body will consummate in the New Jerusalem in the millennium for those believers who become mature and in the new heaven and new earth for all the believers.
In Ezekiel 1 God’s economy is likened to a great wheel (vv. 15-21). The hub of this great wheel signifies Christ as the center of God’s economy, and the rim signifies Christ’s counterpart, the church, which consummates in the New Jerusalem. The many believers as the members of Christ are the spokes of the hub spreading to the rim, to the Body of Christ consummating in the New Jerusalem. This great wheel is not just the economy of God but also the moving of the economy of God. From Genesis 1 until the present, this wheel has been continually moving. The move of God’s economy has never stopped, and today this great wheel has reached us. When I moved from mainland China to the island of Taiwan with about three hundred fifty to five hundred others more than forty years ago, there were few Christians on that island who knew what God’s economy was. But because of the moving of the great wheel of the divine economy, within five years the number in the churches increased to fifty thousand. Eventually, the Lord, the Motivator, burdened me to come to this country. This also was part of the moving of this great wheel. In every age and in every generation, this great wheel has been moving, and today we all are a part of the move of this great wheel on earth. Sometimes the move of this wheel is quite slow, but at other times it is so fast that we can hardly keep up with it.
According to the record in the Old Testament, God’s move, which began in Genesis 1, continued through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In chapter one of Joshua, God’s move had reached a certain situation. At that time the entire earth was full of idols and demons. In a sense, God had been chased away from the earth, which He had created for Himself, and did not have a way to be the Lord of the earth as well as of the heavens. However, among all the nations and peoples, God had separated Israel, His elect, for the carrying out of His economy. They had nothing to do with any idols or demons. On the contrary, they were occupied with the God of the heavens and the earth. After being formed, constituted, disciplined, trained, and qualified, God’s people had come to the plains of Moab where they were waiting to enter into the good land, to take it, and to possess it.
One day, as the people were ready and waiting for God’s instruction, God came in to call Joshua and to tell him to take the lead so that he and the children of Israel could enter into the good land and possess it. Joshua took the word from Jehovah and charged the children of Israel to perform God’s commission (vv. 1-15). The land-takers had to prepare themselves to move with God in His move. In order to take the good land, they had to enter into a full coordination with God in His move. If the children of Israel had looked at themselves, they would have said that there was no possibility. But their possibility was the unique God, who needed His elect people to cooperate with Him in His move to carry out His economy, in His desire to move in His economy as the great wheel. Here God seemed to be saying, “Israel, My elect, you must know that there is no need for you to do anything. Simply cooperate with Me. I am motivating the wheel to run. You need to be one with Me. Go in to possess the land, and I will slaughter the idol worshippers through you. Without you I cannot do anything.”
This is the principle of incarnation. In particular, this is the principle of incarnation for the destruction of the satanic power in its usurpation of the earth. This means that in order for God to regain the earth from the usurping hand of the enemy, we need to be in full cooperation and coordination with Him in the principle of incarnation. We need to be one with God in His heart’s desire and in His move on earth. Today God wants to save people, but in order to do this, He needs us to be one with Him according to the principle of incarnation.
Verses 1 through 9 are God’s charge, promise, and encouragement to Joshua.
God’s charge (vv. 1-4) was that Joshua should enter into God’s promised land. His charge to the land-takers was based upon His ordination, initiation, and choosing. The land-takers needed to sacrifice themselves, deny themselves, give up their own interest and preference in all things, and run the risk of their lives for the carrying out of God’s eternal economy.
In verse 2 God said to Joshua, “Moses My servant is dead; now then arise and cross over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land which I am giving to them, to the children of Israel.” Here we see that the good land had been given to Israel by God.
“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads I have given to you, as I promised Moses” (v. 3). This verse indicates that even though God had given Israel the good land, Israel still needed to take the land. On the one hand, there was God’s giving of the good land; on the other hand, there was the cooperation of God’s people in rising up to fulfill God’s commission to possess the land.
According to verse 4, the territory of the good land included the south—the wilderness; the north—Lebanon; the east—the Great River, the river Euphrates; and the west—the Great Sea, the Mediterranean.
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