Joshua 10 is an amazing chapter of Scripture. It’s most well-known for being the chapter in which “the sun stands still.” This stellar miracle is not to be overlooked, yet, when I recently read this chapter, something else caught my eye.
In Joshua 10, five Amorite kings join forces to overthrow the Gibeonites. These same Gibeonites have just become covenant partners with the Israelites, so they send for God’s people when trouble strikes. When Joshua and his men show up, they don’t come alone. Their God, Yahweh, is with them. He suspends the sun in the sky and makes lethal hailstones rain down as he fights for Israel. The enemies of Israel have no chance against Yahweh.
In light of their defeat, the five Amorite kings flee to take refuge in a cave. When Joshua finds out about this, he has stones rolled against the cave’s entrance. After the Amorites have been fully dealt with, Joshua has the kings brought out before the people. In an act of symbolic significance, Joshua has these kings, who waged war against Yahweh, put to death. Their execution is a picture of what Yahweh will do to all those who oppose him.
However, this isn’t the end of the story. Joshua then has each of the kings hung from a tree until evening. Why? Joshua is a man who meditates on God’s law, and he knows the Deuteronomic Code. In Deuteronomy 21:22-23, it says, “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.”
These kings receive the capital punishment they deserve, but that isn’t the worst part of it. They also suffer under the curse of God. When the sun finally goes down, Joshua throws these men back into the same cave where they had tried to escape from God’s judgment. He has stones rolled against the entrance again, and these kings’ prior refuge becomes a permanent tomb.
What is it about this story that I find to be so remarkable? It prompts me to consider the curse-bearing King of kings. The juxtaposition between these Amorite kings and King Jesus marvelously magnifies the gospel of Christ.
King Jesus is different from the Amorites. He never opposes Yahweh. In fact, he is the only one in history to completely submit to God. Everyone else is a rebel. Jew and Gentile alike are under God’s curse because they transgress his law.
Yet at the end of Jesus’ life, he was treated just like these Amorite kings. They executed him. They hung him on a tree. They threw him into a cave tomb, and they rolled a stone over the entrance to seal the deal.
However, unlike the Amorites, Jesus’ story doesn’t end in the grave. God would not let his holy One see corruption. He raised Jesus from the dead, vindicating Jesus’ righteousness and demonstrating to the world that Jesus is truly the Son of God.
So, why did Jesus suffer like an Amorite king? Why did the righteous one suffer as if he were unrighteous? Paul lays it out clearly for us in Galatians 3:13-14: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
Jesus’ death was substitutionary. We were under God’s curse. We deserved his wrath just as much as any Amorite, but King Jesus took our curse upon himself, liberating us from the wrath to come and blessing us with his Spirit. This Easter season, I pray that this beautiful exchange at the heart of the gospel will grip your heart afresh.
Luke Miller First Year Seminary Student
Michel Galeano’s Message at Chapel,
March 3, 2016: “The Glorious Hope in Our Triune God: Boldness to Proclaim the Gospel”
Join us for our weekly Chapel Service on Thursday, March 17rd, 12:45-1:45pm, featuring Scott Anderson, speaking on Bethlehem Urban Initiatives.
1. Please be in prayer for our students and faculty as we near the mid-semester mark. Right about now is the time students (especially first year students) begin to “hit the wall” and they need the strength of the Lord to continue to work well and wisely.
2. Please be in prayer also for Professor Jason DeRouchie as he leads a team of seminary students (and a few others) to Ethiopia next week for training Ethiopian pastors in theology and Bible courses. Pray for their effectiveness, their safety, and for the encouragement of and equipping of these pastors as they lead their churches with very few resources.
3. Due to continued growth in the college, we are in the process of hiring three new faculty for this coming fall. Please be in earnest prayer that the Lord would lead us to the right candidates and that we would hire God’s choices for us for these positions. This is one of the most important moments for us as having the right faculty is critical to the ongoing growth and effectiveness of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
4. Please pray that we would continue to attract more financial supporters to get behind the vision and mission of our school. The Lord is at work in remarkable ways here and we remain dependent upon His grace and mercy toward us to raise up additional contributors of all types.