My friend Stacey Cartlidge, a licensed professional counselor, wrote this compelling and encouraging piece and graciously agreed to let me post it here. As you will quickly discern, she is much smarter than me so I could not wait to share this with you. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments so we can spur Stacey on and thank her for being a guest blogger here!
Deuteronomy 32:48-52 – “The LORD spoke to Moses that very same day, saying, ‘Go up to this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession. Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel. For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel.’”
Did you ever think, “Poor Moses! Of all the people entering in to the promise land wouldn’t he deserve to go in the most? Why is he denied entrance because of one sin, when the rest of the people are so much worse than him?” Maybe it’s to show that all of us are equally undeserving, even the people who look like they’ve lived their life for God and done so many good works. That it’s just as much a gift for them as it is for us. And that if we are trusting in our own goodness to get into heaven, even the best of us will fall short.
Moses represents the Law. Joshua represents the Savior. Moses led the Israelites to the promised land, but it was Joshua that took them in so that they possessed it.
The Law (Moses) can lead us to see our need for forgiveness, it can show us the kingdom of heaven (promised land), but it isn’t our salvation. It can never take us all the way in; it always stops short. The Law says, “You are on the outside but look and see the pleasant beautiful land on the other side.” The Law shows us something better, makes us long for it, and makes us regret our sin and our state of fallenness, but still it just leaves us on the outside looking in.
As Moses represents the Law, Joshua is a picture of Christ. Joshua means “The Lord saves” and is the same name in Hebrew as Jesus is in Greek. Joshua/Christ does what the law could never do and takes us in to the promised land. Not the “earned” or “deserved land” but the promised land. The validity of a promise is dependent on the one making the promise, not the one receiving the promise. So fulfillment does not depend on our achievement but God’s execution of His own promise.
And isn’t John the Baptist sort of like a new testament Moses? He comes first, prepares the way, makes straight the way of the Lord with a message of repentance but he himself can’t save. He proclaims to his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God!” and the disciples leave John and follow Jesus. The Law says, “You can’t keep it perfectly or even come close. But there is someone who can, and who did. Behold the Lamb of God.” John’s message was simple: “You are sinners. You need a Savior. There He is.”
“John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This is He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” John 1:15-17.
Where are you on this journey? Are you outside looking in? Are you fretting and striving to be good enough and hating yourself when you fall short? You can cling to your efforts to earn God’s love and acceptance, but that path leaves you on the outside looking in. You can spend decades, your whole life, in the mud-bog of pride trying desperately to clean yourself up, only to find you are just as covered in mud as you have ever been. Jesus, our Joshua holds open the door and says, “Come in, child.”
As Lewis said, “We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal think is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence.”
Let the Law show you the dirt in your life, but don’t stop there. Let it lead you home to His Joshua heart, where every tear, stain, and bit of mud is washed away in His love and His Grace.