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A Living and Walking Reminder

06 October 2011 by Neil

Q. 42. Why was our mediator called Christ? 

A. Our mediator was called Christ, because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost above measure; and so set apart, and fully furnished with all authority and ability, to execute the offices of prophet, priest, and king of his church, in the estate both of his humiliation and exaltation.

Quick now. What are the names of the twelve spies that Moses sent into the land of Canaan?


How many did you get? Only two, right? Caleb and Joshua.

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them.” 3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the people of Israel. 4 And these were their names: From the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur; 5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori; 6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; 7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph; 8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun; 9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu; 10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi; 11 from the tribe of Joseph (that is, from the tribe of Manasseh), Gaddi the son of Susi; 12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli; 13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael; 14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi; 15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi. 16 These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. --- Numbers 13:1-16a
There aren’t any fellows by the name of Joshua in this list. But there is a guy named Hoshea the son of Nun.

In the Hebrew language, Hoshea carried several flavours of meaning: avenger, the one who saves, protector, liberator, deliverer, helper, preserver, rescuer… you get the picture: Hoshea was your essential self-reliant human action hero.

Hoshea’s parents apparently had high hopes for him. And they may not have given him this name as a baby either. It may have been a name that was given to a strapping teenager, as a descriptor of his physical strength or character. It's almost comical when you consider that Hoshea was born in the land of Egypt, born as a slave to slaves. His one and only destiny was to carry bricks until his back gave out and he was no more use. His life could only be short and brutish.

But that name… Hoshea was the very spirit of defiance and hope for those who couldn’t dare to hope. He was the definitive strongman. Even if he wasn't strong, there would have been irresistible pressure to grow into the role that the name promised.

Moses didn’t like it.
These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua. --- Numbers 13:16
You were right after all, but you knew that.

Moses said "no way! you don't save. Only God saves."

Hoshea was no longer. Joshua took his place. In the Hebrew, all the meaning of Hoshea is preserved in Joshua, but something has been added. Joshua has these flavours of meaning: God saves, God avenges, God protects, God liberates, God delivers, God helps, God preserves, God rescues… you get the picture again. A somewhat different focus than Hoshea, eh? The slave-wannabe-strongman disappears, and is replaced by a living and walking reminder that man's strength is insufficient, and that salvation and rescue come only from God.

And what is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Joshua? Ἰησοῦς. Jesus. That's quite a coincidence, except God doesn't do coincidence.