Joshua 4, Psalms 129–131, Isaiah 64, Matthew 12

DateVersionReading Plan
@July 2, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Joshua 4

Joshua 4:2–3 (ESV) 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’ ” … 9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day.

The LORD told Joshua that the people were to collect twelve stones (representing the twelve tribes of Israel) and erect a monument to what God had done in stopping the waters of the Jordan in order for them to cross. Particularly interesting is that Josh. 4:3 says that the stones were to be brought over and laid where they lodged, however Josh 4:9 says that they were to be placed in the midst of the Jordan. As the Believer’s Bible Commentary explains, the latter verse “seems to indicate that the Israelites erected a second memorial of 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan, which would be covered over by water; the first memorial would be a visible sign, while the second would mark where the priests had stood, perhaps becoming visible at times when the Jordan was low. More likely, however, v. 9 is a parenthetical thought, and there was only one memorial.”

Psalms 129–131

Psalm 130:3–4 (ESV) 3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.

The psalmist acknowledges that no one would stand if the LORD kept account of all iniquities and there was no forgiveness of sins. We would be but lost without God’s gracious act of sending His Son to take upon Himself our sin and deserved punishment as an acceptable substitute. There is forgiveness of sin for those who place their faith and trust in Christ, covered by His righteousness to be seen by the Father as if we had never sinned at all. This He he does not because of any worth of our own but as an outpouring of His love in order that He would be feared and receive the glory.

Isaiah 64

Isaiah 64:3–4 (ESV) 3 When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. 4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

Isaiah speaks of how God did awesome things that they did not look for. How often it is that God works amazing things in unexpected ways and how foolish we are to think we have full understanding. We were never to grasp Him completely but through humble admission proclaim His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. The very mountains quaked at His presence and thus shall we, for there has never been nor will ever be a God besides Him.

Matthew 12

Matthew 12:17–21 (ESV) 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; 20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Matthew recognized that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah (Is. 42:1-4). The CSB Notes explains well with multiple points the veracity of this fulfillment:

[Matthew’s prophetic reference] implies: (1) he is God’s Son/servant; (2) he is chosen and loved by God; (3) he pleases God with his obedience; (4) he bears God’s Spirit; (5) he will rule over a universal kingdom that includes all nations; (6) he is humble and nonviolent; and (7) he will include Gentiles in his redemptive plan.

Carson on Psalm 130

the “fear of the Lord” is portrayed as not only the outcome of forgiveness, but one of its goals. It confirms that “fear of the Lord” has less to do with slavish, servile terror (which surely should be decreased by forgiveness, not increased) than with holy reverence. Even so, this reverence has a component of honest fear. When sinners begin to see the magnitude of their sin, and experience the joy of forgiveness, at their best they glimpse what might have been the case had they not been forgiven. Forgiveness engenders relief; ironically, it also engenders sober reflection that settles into reverence and godly fear, for sin can never be taken lightly again, and forgiveness never lightly received.

Carson unpacks in compelling form the relationship between forgiveness and fear. As one who jumps out of the way of a previously unseen car, both fear and gratitude are expressed toward the certain death that could have been. Be it all the more amplified that through forgiveness in Christ we have escaped an eternal death of unsurpassed severity. To what end shall we then worship our Lord in reverence but with our whole lives and selves.