The Glorious Irony of Makeddah

In Joshua 10, it is hard come down from the incredible manner by which God fights for his people and destroys his enemies. On that day when God prolonged Israel’s advantage at Gibeon by causing daylight to be extended for an entire day, we learn that Yahweh, the God of Israel, is able to do anything for the sake of his people and for the execution of his justice. Why did it happen? We may never know on this side of the grave, but we do know that God did it for his good pleasure, and that its record in the book of Joshua was not intended to be a figurative statement, for the author appeals to an outside work called The Book of Jashar that records this same Anomaly.

And it is from this mountain that we come to Makeddah–literally, the Place of Shepherds. Little is known of this place except that after Joshua and Israel had fought the armies of the five united cities, their five kings fled to Makeddah and hid themselves in a cave there. Their place of hiding was not long kept from Joshua, and he commanded that large stones and guards be placed in front of the entrance of the cave to hold the kings until the pursuit against the armies of their cities was completed. After Israel had struck the majority of the armies in battle, they returned to Makeddah to meet the camp of Israel there.

Upon their return, Joshua commanded that the stones be rolled away and the kings be brought out before the people. He commanded them, “Be strong and courageous,” and then instructed them to place their feet upon the necks of the kings (the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon), and to strike them with the sword. Afterward, he commanded that they be hung upon trees to testify to all who saw them that they were accursed. At sundown, their bodies were taken down and placed back into the caves, and the stones were rolled back in front of them, to which the author adds, “There they remain to this very day” (Josh. 10:27).

What makes this text interesting is not the fact that five kings of Canaanite cities were killed by Joshua and Israel during their conquest for the land, but it is its multiple parallels to the story of another Joshua (viz. Jesus Christ). This Joshua, who was named thus because, as the angel declared, “He will save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21), was not the conqueror of earthly kings and kingdoms, but he was the conqueror of sin and death. And he was not instructed to be strong and courageous, but he was strong and courageous and did perfectly what the Joshua of old was commanded to do, namely, to “Meditate on the Book of the Law day and night, and to do according to all that is written in it” (Josh. 1:8). And thus Jesus Christ was the realization of him whom the Joshua of old foreshadowed and of the man of Psalm 1, who “Walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but who delights in the law of the Lord” (Ps. 1:1,2).

Yet unlike the Joshua of old, the Jesus of the new did not defeat his foes by their bloodshed and battle, but he defeated them by conquering them in the way that the Joshua of old could not, and he did so utterly and completely. Instead of striking his enemies directly with a mortal blow, he himself was struck and was killed. Instead of hanging his enemies upon a tree declaring them accursed, he himself was hung on tree and was accursed for the sake of those who bore the curse of sin and death, for, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal. 3:13). And instead of destroying his enemies and throwing them into a cave and sealing it with a stone and protecting it with guards, he himself was placed into a cave and sealed with a stone which was protected by guards.

Yet, there is where the similarities end. Unlike the five kings who were placed into a tomb and sealed with a stone where, “They remain to this very day,” Jesus Christ was placed into his stone-barred tomb and on the third day an angel rolled it away and Jesus Christ walked out–alive–the Firstborn from the dead. For unlike the kings who were accursed because of their own sins, Jesus Christ, having no sin but absolute Perfection, bore the sins of his people, thereby removing their curse and giving to them freedom from sin and life everlasting. And unlike them, he does not remain in his tomb “to this very day,” for he was vindicated by God for his Righteousness. And because he was vindicated and through his work defeated his enemies once and for all, he ascended to the right hand of the Father until that Time when his work will finally bring all of his enemies under his feet. And unlike the Israelites who conquered Canaan and later lost it because of their idolatry, Jesus Christ’s conquering of his enemies is complete and final. There shall never be another uprising or another turning to idolatry. For in that Day, his people will see him as he truly is, and nothing less than him will ever wet their palettes. Lord, hasten that Day! Amen.



Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study

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