TRACING THE COVENANT PEOPLE FROM JOSHUA TO SOLOMON
by Ella Rose Mast
Joshua now steps forth and picks up the leadership mantle from Moses --YAHWEH once more outlines this land He has given to Israel---and it stretches " From the wilderness, and then Lebanon unto the Great River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittite's, to the great sea, toward the going down of the sun. Thus these people are told:--"Be strong, be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the LORD thy God is with thee whether-so-ever thou goest." (Josh. 1:1-9)
Nearly six centuries after the death of Abraham, these Covenant people now stand on the east bank of the Jordan River awaiting marching orders from a new commander. Israel's national unity reached the highest peak in her history at that time. Under the leadership of the great Levi, Moses, Israel's sons and daughters had been schooled in the observances and administration of God's laws, both national and Ecclesiastical. Only the young, strong and courageous remained to cope with the arduous tasks of conquest and homesteading. Their spiritual understanding is revealed by their pledge of loyalty to Joshua as he took command and issued his first orders to the officers and to the people.
Under Joshua, the Israelites had what was called a military dictatorship. But oh.--what a difference from today. In this case it meant guidance of National affairs in cooperation with YAHWEH for the benefit of all the people. As Joshua commanded--as YAHWEH TOLD HIM WHAT TO DO the people obeyed. And YAHWEH did wonders on this day as the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. The "Ark of the Covenant" went first into the river, and the waters 'held up' so that the "Ark of the Covenant" stood in the midst of the river while the Israelites crossed. The waters which came down from above, stood and rose up in one heap, a great way off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan. (Josh. 3:16)
The modern city of Adam, El Damish, is 16 miles above Jericho. There the Jordan River flows rapidly thru 40 feet high clay banks, even in normal times. And is subject to landslides. Once in 1927, those banks collapsed and dammed the river. And it did not flow for more that 21 hours. Perhaps this conveniently happened when Israel was ready to cross, and the earth tremors could have set it off. Joshua set up a memorial of 12 stones in the midst of the Jordan River where the feet of the Priests stood as they held the Ark of the Covenant. Joshua then after this crossing renewed the ordinance of circumcision. And when camped there at Gilgal, the Israelites observed for the first time in their new homeland the rites of the Passover.
Joshua then began his military campaign by the siege of the city of Jericho, which was the gateway to the Promised Land. For it controlled the only supply of pure water on the wester side of the Jordan for 25 miles. Archaeologists have determined that the walls of Jericho did fall as recorded. They fell outward, flat in many places. Inside the city, it is as tho an earthquake flattened it. Thus an earthquake dammed the Jordan and then a later one shook down the walls of Jericho, after the Israelites had followed orders to march around it seven times. The 'seven' denoting just who these people were. Thus leading scientists now affirm that simple actions of every day life partake of the nature of miracles, coincidences? Well, then, they testify to the direct action of the deity altho working thru natural causes.
After the capture of Ai, Joshua built an altar in Mount Ebal and called the people together to worship YAHWEH. They offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed Peace offerings. While the Priests and Judges stood in the presence of the "Ark of the Covenant", Joshua read to them all the words of the Law. (Josh. 8:30-35)
Joshua's major military operations are recounted in the 9th, 10th, and 11th chapters of this book which bear his name. As to Joshua's long day---Col. Totten of Yale proved that there was one long day in that very period of time. Greece, Egypt, and China, have a record of one long day at about that period of the world's history.
But what about these people who were dispossessed by Israel? You must remember that the entire plan from the beginning was the LORD'S. And it was designed to bring blessing unto the whole world. The only possible way by which any individual, nation, or race could then, or can now, fail to be blessed in the operation of this plan, is to oppose it. So those who opposed, went the way of all who fight against YAHWEH-God. Thus Joshua took the whole land according to all that the LORD said unto Moses and Joshua that it was their inheritance. The tribes were each given their inheritance. And now with the wars ended, then Joshua (22:1-6) sent the two and one-half tribes (Reuben, Gad and 1/2 of Manasseh) back east of the Jordan river where Moses had outlined their inheritance.
Now, the tribe of Levi had been set aside for special clerical work. And from this branch, came Priests, ministers of the sanctuary, Judges, lawyers, teachers, scribes, and public officials. In otherwords, the professional groups. They were given no land. Instead, they were given 48 cities to dwell in. And their income came from tithes, or taxes on the other tribes. Thus only 12 tribes had an inheritance in the land.
Now, Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim. He should never be referred to as a Jew. For there were no Jews in the tribe of Ephraim. Joshua was a brilliant military strategist. He conquered Canaan in which he subdued thirty-one kingdoms in a short time. "So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was noised throughout all the country." (Josh. 6:27)
Remember, now that when Joshua was conquering this land there was a splendid civilization in Egypt. And to the north was the land of Syria with its coast lands and here too was an advanced civilization which archaeology at Ras Shamra proved. And to the eastward, was the vast civilizations of Mesopotamia. As Joshua then will step out of the picture as leader of the Covenant people, he has seen them established in their promised land and he said:--"Behold! This day I am going the way of all the earth; and ye know in all your hearts, and in all your souls that no one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you. All are coming to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof."
Thus Joshua the great spiritual leader who had been trained to replace Moses, the one who had kept Israel people in touch with their God, is now going home. And after he is gone his work was carried on by men who had been associated with him.
In the book of Judges, we learn that almost as soon as Joshua was buried, almost all of his generation, these who had been educated and empowered to take this old promised land, were also gathered unto their fathers. (Judges 2:9-10) And this next generation of children of Israel followed after other gods of the people round about them and did evil in the sight of YAHWEH.
How did this happen? A careful record of this has been kept. And you will notice that as each tribe of Israel settled into their inheritance, they did not drive out the pagan inhabitants as they had been instructed to do. Thus came the results of that disobedience as YAHWEH said, he would thus leave these people as a thorn in the side---a temptation to Israel. And their gods would be a snare to them. Thus they were to chose whom they would serve, and without a strong leader like Joshua, or Moses, they were soon following the false gods.
Now, was YAHWEH cruel by ordering Israel to drive out these people? Not at all. They were pagan people, and they opposed YAHWEH and they corrupted the earth with their wicked practices. Always when Israel comes in contact with evil, when they associate with evil-doers, they seldom lift the godless to a higher standard. They instead drop their own standards to the pagan level. Good is hare to overcome when separated from evil. But when you drop the good to the standard of evil, then it is much easier to lose your way. Resistance means an effort. And it may mean a fight and always there are those who are busy pushing the non-resistant effort. The Peace Committees are always clamoring for disarmament and Peace at any price, and Fellowship of faith, and so forth. They thus blend and harmonize the truth with the false religions, until Israel finally turns her back on the true faith. When this is done it is much easier to lower Israel's standards. Thus the work of the enemy is as tho worms are working at the roots of the tree as the book of Joel tells us.
Here then Israel made a league with the inhabitants of the land when their leaders, national and ecclesiastical--were duped into these same ideologies we see that seduce and enslave free people in modern times. Look at the treaties we as a nation of the United States of America have made today. And worst of all, is the United Nations Alliance. The ole League of Nations was not only a failure, but also a snare for the Christian nations
Back in the time of the Judges, we find the House of Israel, in this same old trap. A modern type of education was adopted, the "Book of the Covenant" was excluded. No longer was it deemed necessary to a more scholarly conception of religion where 'every man' did that which was right in his own eyes. Every man was his own God. (Judges 17:6-& 21:25). does this sound familiar? Thus in that time of history Israel was heading for a fall, not something new, but the same old fashioned snare that brought down Adam and Eve was applied. Moses remember, told his people:--"Ye have been rebellious against YAHWEH from the day when I first knew thee." (Deut. 9:24)
Well, as the Israelites went into slavery, they then cried unto YAHWEH and he raised up a leader to deliver his children. Some of these leaders in that period of time were Deborah, Othniel, Gideon, and Samson. And we are told that in their time, the land had rest. Repeat this process over four centuries and you have the history as laid out in the book of Judges.
Always remember this:--YAHWEH did not rescue Israel, these Covenant people because they were all worthy of His love and mercy. He rescued them because of the Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and His program for this earth which was moving always forward.
Moses wrote (Deut. 9:1-7)---When in regards to Israel and her relations with the inhabitants of Canaan land:---'Hear O' Israel, so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly. As the LORD thy God hath said unto thee. Speak not thou in thine heart, after that---the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee saying--for my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess the land, but for the wickedness of these nations, the LORD doth drive them out from before thee, nor for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, doth thou go to possess their land, BUT FOR THE WICKEDNESS OF THE NATIONS, THE LORD THY GOD DOTH DRIVE THEM OUT BEFORE THEE, THAT HE MAY PERFORM THE WORD WHICH THE LORD SWORE UNTO THY FATHERS, ABRAHAM, ISAAC, AND JACOB. UNDERSTAND THEREFORE, THAT THE LORD THY GOD GIVETH THIS GOOD LAND TO POSSESS IT FOR THY RIGHTEOUSNESS, FOR THOU ART A STIFF NECKED PEOPLE.'--Thus to honor HIS WORD then YAHWEH raised up Judges in this period of time to rescue His people.
Deborah was both a Judge and Prophetess. Her ability as a councilor and leader of her people, her faith in YAHWEH AND HER COURAGE IN THE FACE OF DANGER is all outlined in the book of Judges. Her inspired poem of thanksgiving following the victory over Sisers is a prophetic song of hope in this long night of Israel's decline.
This book of Judges should be read as a storehouse of object lessons for our day. Degenerate Israel, as she turned her back on YAHWEH, did unbelievable deeds. They are all recorded as a warning that should be heard in all Israel nations of today. Will the Christian nations wake up or do they slumber on and do 'right in their own eyes?'
Samuel was the last of the Judges and the greatest prophet since Moses. Samuel's parents are listed as deeply religious. And his mother had placed her son in the hands of Eli the High Priest, so that he might be raised for service in the Sanctuary. Thus you see that always a remnant of Israel did not follow their leaders into evil. Eli the High Priest, however did not restrain his household from doing evil. Thus YAHWEH would also remove him from power. And Samuel then was raised to a leadership position.
Finally the Israelites demanded a King to rule over them just like the other nations around them. Samuel prayed and asked YAHWEH what to do. And YAHWEH told Samuel to:--'Do as they ask, for they have not rejected you, they have rejected me.' Well--Samuel told the people that certain things would happen to them if they had a King to rule over them. For instance:--'This is the manner of the King that shall reign over you:--he will take your sons and your daughters and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, for his horsemen. He will set them to farm his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war. He will take your daughters to be cooks; he will take your fields, your seed, your servants, your sheep, and ye will be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your King which ye have chose. And YAHWEH will not hear ye in that day.'
Nevertheless the people clamored for a king like all the other nations, so that their king would go out before them and fight their battles. (ISam. 8) After all YAHWEH did not want them to be like other nations. they were supposed to be a 'peculiar people unto him, for had he not born them on eagles wings and brought them unto himself?' (Deut. 32)
There is one thing that always gets Israel in trouble. They have a tendency to seek their salvation in human leadership rather than in YAHWEH. Another is this tendency to imitate or try to 'keep up with the Joneses.' Thus YAHWEH instructed Samuel to appoint Saul, a son of a Benjamite in the land of Kissh, the King over Israel. In the beginning, Saul was a good king. And he had many victories over the enemy. and his kingdom was firmly established (ISam. 11) Samuel kept working and instruction and he prayed for his people on the basis of their historic past. Samuel proclaimed that Israel might still obtain blessings from YAHWEH in the following manner:--" If ye will love YAHWEH, and obey Him and serve Him, and not rebel against the Commandments of YAHWEH, then shall both ye and also the king that reigns over you, continue following 'the LORD thy God; but if ye will not obey His voice, and rebel, then His hand shall be against you, as it was against your fathers when they disobeyed. YAHWEH will not forget His people, for HIS Name's sake, because it hath pleased YAHWEH to make you HIS people. But if ye do wickedly, ye shall be consumed both ye and your king." (I Sam. 12) Thus Israel had been warned.
Now, we find that Saul ruled well for two years. Then events turned and he acted foolishly and disobeyed. He failed to see that man does not hurry YAHWEH'S plan. And he in time would be king no more. Actually by the time of Samson, Israel as a nation had deteriorated to a low lever.
The weak-strong man named Samson, like the heads of modern countries, was never able to extricate himself from the wiles of alien women who were in espionage service of the enemy. YAHWEH is however reasonable in Judgement. The actions of Saul was not justified by the circumstances for he demanded a burnt offering by prepared, which should have been the work of Samuel under the guidance of YAHWEH. Then Saul became a perfect type of political leader. He promised much, but fulfills little. We have watched many such who have flashed like a meteorite across the political sky and then quickly dim. They dazzle momentarily, and they look well, and speak well and excite the public. And then are elected to high office and once they gain power all is changed.
Saul was still king when the Philistines came in battle. And many of Israel fell in that day. Saul and his three sons among them. The Philistine cut off the head of Saul had stripped the amour off his body and put this amour in the house of Asharoth and fastened his body to the wall of Bethsham. (ISam. 31) Saul thus died for his transgression which he committed against YAHWEH. Even against the Word which he kept not. And for asking for counsel from a 'familiar spirit' when he could not find Samuel.
Thus Samuel was sent to Jesse, the Bethlehemire, who had many sons. Jesse presented seven sons to Samuel. And was asked if this was all of his sons? No. It seemed that there was a younger one who was with the sheep. This one was sent for. He had ruddy color and a beautiful countenance and Samuel was ordered to anoint this Shepherd boy as the founder and head of the greatest dynasty in history---"The Royal House of David." His life was filled with adventure, romance, danger--from youth to the very end of his days. Surely you have heard of the tale of David's triumph over the Philistine giant, Goliath. His love of Jonathan, the son of Saul, his many escapes from the jealous rages of Saul; his might deeds, inspired by an intense love for YAHWEH, wrought in the power of a miracle--working confidence in an ever present loving personal God. Thus this was where Samuel was when Saul sinned. He was preparing the next leader for Israel. And this time a mighty one. Saul then would finally be killed and David would no longer have to hide out. David would try to appease Saul because of his friend, the son of Saul, but eventually all would end as decreed and David would be king over all Israel.
If you will remember, then Jacob speaking in the spirit of prophecy, had long before this said:--'The Scepter shall not depart from the House of Judah.' This caused trouble for awhile but the House of Judah stayed with David and finally all Israel then came to David.
Now, this young man, David, was thirty years old when he began to reign as king over all Israel. He reigned forty years. (II Sam. 5-- I Chron. 2). One of the first things David did after becoming king over all Israel, was to bring the 'Ark of the Covenant' to Zion. Next he called the people together for worship, prayer and consecration to YAHWEH. Actually, Prayer had ceased in the days of Saul. To hurry the organization of the Kingdom then David appointed leaders from all the tribes of Israel, to work with him. His great success mainly came from his ability to pick the right men for positions of responsibility.
Nathan the prophet suggested that David build the House for YAHWEH in the midst of his people. But David would not be allowed to do this. He could only design the temple and collect material for it. His son would build it.
Nathan the priest, revealed the permeance of David's throne and kingdom, and outlined this eternal Covenant of YAHWEH with David's Royal line. "When thy days be fulfilled, that thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee. And I will establish thy throne forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men. But MY MERCY shall not depart away from him as I took it from Saul whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy Kingdom shall be established forever before thee, thy throne shall be established forever.
Is it not incredible how any Bible student, especially a minister of the Gospel can miss the significance of such definite statements in the Holy Writ? Nothing has ever existed on earth similar in design or origin and character to this Kingdom which God founded in Abraham, and extended thru Isaac, Jacob and to David and now to his throne. It is the only kingdom and throne that can never be destroyed. This Kingdom is Christ's own peculiar treasure, the government which shall be upon His shoulders when He takes this earthly throne of --as it is written--'His father David'--to rule over His people for ever and ever as their King of Kings and LORD OF LORD'S.
"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgement, and justice in the earth. In his days--Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name where by he shall be called---The LORD our righteousness." (Jeremiah 23:5-6 & Luke 1:32-33) Christ's love for His Kingdom demonstrated by the sacrifice He made to redeem it, and save its people from their sins, forms the subject matter for the New Testament. When studying the reign of King David, we refer to the second book of Samuel and the first book of Chronicles beginning with Chapter 10.
David was growing old and without the knowledge of David, Adonijah one of the older sons of David, declared himself king. Nathan the Priest, knowing that this was not the program of YAHWEH, then turned to Bathsheba, Solomon's mother, to help him. And together they informed David of this dangerous situation. David reaffirmed that YAHWEH had told him that Solomon should be the King. Thus the Priests were instructed to make Solomon their King and this they did. (I Kings 1) Thus another great leader for Israel had been selected by YAHWEH and will step into place in this continuing story.
(end of Joshua to Solomon)