As any student of the Bible knows, Jesus was the Divinely appointed name for the One born of Mary (Matt. 1:21, 25). The name Jesus, says Vine, “is a transliteration of the Heb. ‘Joshua,’ meaning ‘Jehovah is salvation,’ i.e., ‘is the Savior'” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words). Therefore, in the King James Version, we see the name “Jesus” where it refers to the Old Testament hero “Joshua” (Heb. 4:8). Though Jesus far excels Joshua, like day to night, there are parallels we wish to notice.
Joshua was not just an assistant to Moses, but he was also a great military leader in Israel (Ex. 17:8-13). The Son of God is described as the captain of our salvation, a military term (Heb. 2:10). He is the one who leads the armies of God. Revelation 19:11-16 says, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Further, Joshua was one who put the necks of Israel’s enemies under their feet and said, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight” (Josh. 10:24-25). Yet, by reason of death, Joshua left work to be done (Josh. 23:4-8). Similarly, Jesus subdues the enemies of righteousness, but in the end, unlike Joshua, there will remain no more enemies of Jesus. “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:25-26). Therefore, we, too, should not fear, nor be dismayed, because Jesus will triumph over all evil, and those who are faithful in the Lord will share in the victory!
Another parallel we can note is Joshua’s and Jesus’ missions. Joshua was designated as the one to lead the children of Israel into the promised land, and did just that (Josh. 23:14). He leads them into a land which flowed with milk and honey, a land of rest (Deut. 3:19-20; 25:19; Josh. 1:13-15; 21:44; 23:1). Jesus leads us into the promised land of heaven. It is by Him, and only by Him, that we will enter eternal life (Jn. 14:6). Yes, there is a blessed rest awaiting the faithful in the Lord (Rev. 14:13) However, we cannot expect it without effort on our part. Just as Israel had to face challenges and overcome them with God’s help, so must the Christian lean upon Christ to reach our land of rest. “There remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us, therefore, be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:9-11).
Let us be thankful to the Father for our Savior and Deliverer, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God!
Steven F. Deaton