In the first 11 chapters of the book of Hebrews, the author asserts the superiority of Jesus to all elements and figures of the Old Testament by pointing out either directly or by type, Jesus’ fulfillment of the Old Testament. He spent a lot of time pointing out that everything was done by “faith” in an unseen and unrealized promise. The writer even says that Moses’ faith was in the future deliverance promised in the Messiah, Jesus. This is clearly seen in Hebrews 11:26 which says of Moses, “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses said, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.” Moses, at last entering the promised land, appeared with Elijah and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter insisted on performing a task of building a tabernacle for each of them when God interrupted Peter’s speech and spoke from the sky, “This is my beloved son, listen to Him.” In his sermon in Acts chapter 3, Peter recalls this passage from Deuteronomy and quotes Moses’ words. I’m sure he had in mind the event at the transfiguration. The “Prophet” that would come is none other than Jesus.

Then the author moves on to consider Moses’ replacement, Joshua. He writes in Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.” When you read the account of the fall of Jericho, you must agree with Bandstra who says, “From a purely military point of view, what God asked them to do would have been considered foolish. But they trusted in God and obeyed him so that those walls came atumblin’ down.”[1] I believe God brought about the fall of Jericho in this fashion to let His people know that He was acting on their behalf. He would accomplish what He had promised and they need not worry about whether they were confident in their own abilities and strengths or not. At Kadesh Barnea, they were afraid of the giants in the land and forgot that God had promised to drive out the inhabitants for them, so they drew back in fear. He wanted them to remember that He was with them and He’d do exactly what He had promised.

One writer says, “The author uses the first act of faith, passing through the Red Sea, and the last act of faith, encircling and marching around Jericho until the walls of Jericho fell, to cover the whole period of the Wilderness Wanderings. This is all he needs to say because the Israelites showed faith at the beginning and at the end.”[2] However, in the middle as mentioned in Hebrews chapters 3 and 4, the Israelites trusted or put their confidence in their own strength rather than in God’s work on their behalf. Whenever one takes his eyes off of the Lord, they begin to sink as Peter did when walking on the water. My efforts alone can’t accomplish anything, but with God anything is possible. The writer wants us to understand that we must put our faith in Jesus and what He has accomplished on our behalf. This is why he explains “looking to Jesus” as being the call for all believers today. Joshua and Jesus are the same name. As Joshua delivered Israel, Jesus delivers us.

[1] Andrew Bandstra, “Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C,” in The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday’s Texts, Volume Two, ed. Roger E. Van Harn (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 511–512.

[2] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 164.