In the excerpt below, Andrew John Jukes (1815-1901) discusses the relation between Israel possessing the promised land, as related in the Old Testament, and the Christian’s experience. He contrasts the book of Numbers with the book of Joshua, and connects the promised land with spiritual realities mentioned in Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and elsewhere in the New Testament.
From: Andrew John Jukes. The law of the offerings in Leviticus i-vii. considered as the appointed figure of the various aspects of the offering of the body of Jesus Christ. James Nisbet and Co. London. 1848. pp. 39-46.
Numbers,—giving the history of Israel in the wilderness, their services, their trials, and their failures there,—brings out, I cannot doubt, repeated types of the Christian’s experience and pilgrimage in the world as in a wilderness. Israel’s history, as well as Israel’s ordinances, was typical; their coming out of Egypt was typical; their sojourn in the wilderness was typical; their entering the land was typical; and the details of each of these portions of their history, the typical character of which in general is granted by all, will shew how perfectly the pictures are finished by the hand of One who well knew what He was describing.
In Numbers then we get types connected with the wilderness. Here the world is viewed not as the house of bondage, but as the place of trial, the scene of pilgrimage, through which Israel must pass to Canaan.  Thus in those chapters in Numbers, which are most allied in their character to the types of Leviticus, (where the Offering of Christ, as in “the red heifer,” is without doubt the great end of the representation, ) we have the sacrifice, not as in Leviticus shewing some aspect of Christ’s offering as bearing on communion, but as further coming in with particular application to the trials of a walk of faith in the wilderness; and meeting the cases of individual experience, such as contact with evil or any other defilement.
I speak the less on this subject, because the whole character of the book is so obvious,  and to enter into the particulars would fill a volume. Suffice it to say, throughout we have the elect in the wilderness, learning there what man is and what God is; what the ransomed people ought to be, and what they really are. We have the Levites,—I take one undoubted type from the fourth chapter,—the picture of the Church in service, with garments unspotted from pollution, passing onwards through the desert land; each day dependent on God for every thing, and following the guidance of the fire and cloud, while they bear the vessels of the sanctuary and care for them in the dreary waste. Those vessels all typified something of Christ. And the spiritual Levites have now to bear Him through the wilderness.
And so throughout, Numbers gives us the wilderness. The pillar of cloud preceding them; [Chapter ix.] the blowing of the silver trumpets, and the alarm in the camp; [Chapter x.] the murmuring after the flesh-pots of Egypt; [Chapter xi.] and the shrinking through unbelief from going up to Canaan; [Chapters xiii., xiv.]— fit representation of God’s chosen people shrinking backward from the trials of their heavenly calling;—the want of water in the wilderness, and the stony rock opened to supply that need; [Chapter xx.] the whoredom with the daughters of Moab, [Chapter xxiii.] and the discouragement because of the way; [Chapter xxi.] what are all these but living pictures of the Christian pilgrim’s experience as in the wilderness.
How different is Joshua from all this; experience again I doubt not, but what different experience. The one teaching us our way in the wilderness, the other as already beyond Jordan in the land. Into this I fear some may find it more difficult to enter, because the reality which is represented is a thing unknown to them. Joshua teaches us in type the Church already with Christ in heavenly places, and but few saints apprehend this experience, or know what resurrection means. Thus the book of Joshua, if viewed typically, answers very nearly to the Epistle to the Ephesians. In either book we see the elect standing in the place of promise, but finding it still a place of conflict. As Paul says, “we are raised up, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ:” [Eph. ii. 6.] but that place is not yet the rest; for, as he proceeds in the same Epistle, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in heavenly places.” [Eph. vi. 12. ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις, the same as in ch. ii. 6.] The book of Joshua is just this. It describes to us Israel passing from the wilderness over Jordan into the land of Canaan. All these are emblems familiar to us. Jordan, as we all know, is the type of death, dividing the wilderness, this world, from the land of promise, heaven. Israel passes through Jordan without feeling its waters, and comes with Joshua into the promised land. When he passes Jordan, all Israel passes. And thus it was in Christ. The Church is dead with Him, buried with Him, risen with Him; but there is still a conflict, for the Canaanite will dwell in that land. And so it will be till the true Solomon comes. O may He hasten His coming!
But let us take an example or two as illustrating this. In the fourth chapter we read of Israel crossing Jordan dryshod: in the fifth we read of their circumcision. As soon as they are over Jordan, so soon are they all called to be circumcised. Though the seed of Abraham, there had been no circumcision for Israel in the wilderness; but as soon as they come into the land, circumcision begins at once. Need I explain what this is, or shew how exactly it answers to ”the eighth day” of the original institution. Circumcision was to be “on the eighth day.” [Gen. xvii. 8. Phil. iii. 5.] To those at all familiar with the types, I need not say that “the eighth day” is always typical of resurrection. The eighth day, the day after the seventh or sabbath, answers to ”the first day of the week” on which Christ rose: it is however “the first day” in reference to seven having gone before. Seven days include the periods proper to the first creation. The eighth day, as it takes us beyond and out of these, that is beyond the limits of the old creation, brings us in type into a new order of things and times, in a word, into the new creation or resurrection. With regard to circumcision, we are taught in Peter, that it represented “the putting away the filth of the flesh.” To do this was the great attempt of the whole Jewish dispensation, and that attempt ended in failure; for resurrection, the place beyond Jordan, was not yet occupied by Israel. But since Christ, the true Joshua, has passed through Jordan, and since all the Church is in and with Him; and because as members of His body the Church is dead and risen with Him; therefore it is called to be circumcised, and to put away the filth of the flesh. “If ye be risen with Christ, . . . put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy.” [Col. iii. 1, 3, 5, 8.] True circumcision of the heart is only known and attained to, in proportion as we know the power of the resurrection.
But to speak of other parts; how different throughout is the experience of the books of Numbers and Joshua. Not that in fact the two can really be separated, for in Christ the Church is apprehended for every thing; but it is one thing to be apprehended of Him, and another to apprehend that for which we are apprehended. [Phil. iii. 12.] One portion of experience is often more apprehended than another. Indeed, our experience is but the measure of our individual attainment, the extent to which we have proved the truth, the apprehension in our own souls of that which is already true for us in Christ. The work of Christ for us has brought His members into every blessing, and faith at once rests on this; but experience only apprehends that amount of this which is realized in our souls by the Holy Ghost.
But to return to the difference of Numbers and Joshua. There was no difficulty in possessing the wilderness; but Israel had to fight for every step in the land. Instead of lusting for flesh as in the wilderness, in the land, in the knowledge of resurrection, the temptation is quite of another sort. We have confidence in strength as before Ai; [Chapter vii.] confidence in knowledge as in the case of the Gibeonites; [Chapter ix.] abusing grace as in the case of Achan, understanding how it gives victory, but not seeing God’s claims in it. As saints grow in grace and in the knowledge of their place as even now risen, they have another class of trials to meet in addition to the trials of the wilderness, “the wrestling not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers in heavenly places.” And this is in fact the book of Joshua.
Such is a very brief and imperfect sketch of the different character of some of the typical parts of Scripture. I feel how little what I have said will convey to one who has not studied it, the exceeding depth and fulness of my subject.
Does any one say that these are but points of knowledge, and as such of comparatively little value. I grant that they are points of knowledge, but I answer we grow in grace through knowledge. [2 Peter i. 2.] And one reason of the weakness of the Church is the shallowness of her knowledge on these points. To shew the use of this knowledge is not my present purpose. Suffice it to say, that were the types of Genesis understood, we should not see such grievous mistakes arising from confounding the dispensations, and mingling the things and hopes of one covenant with the things and hopes of another. And so of the rest. Know more of Exodus, that is of redemption; know more of Leviticus, that is of the ground of access to God; know more of Numbers, the experience of the wilderness; and of Joshua, the experience as even now beyond Jordan; and then see if you have not something more to use in service for Him who redeemed and loved you.
That thus it may be with us indeed, let us pray that the Lord will keep us near to Himself, in abiding communion with Him. Amen.
1. In Exodus we get just the reverse, the world viewed, not as our place of pilgrimage, but as the kingdom of Pharaoh and the house of bondage.
2. Numbers xix. The red heifer was the only sin offering in which the fat of the inwards was not burnt on the altar. But this is in exact keeping with the character of the book of Numbers, giving us the offering only in its relation to the wilderness. The fat on the altar would have been God’s part. In Numbers therefore this is unnoticed.
3. See St. Paul’s application of the history in 1 Cor. x. 1—11.
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