Our Profession

“We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him for whom are all things, and by whom we all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” —Hebrews 2:9,10

THE WORDS OF this passage of Scripture are very sobering indeed. To think how willingly the Lord Jesus came from heaven to earth as a human being, having been made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, is a great lesson in humility for us. Despite his high position in heaven as an archangel of God, and despite his perfection as a man, he was not ashamed to call his disciples brethren. (vss. 11-16) Continuing with his consideration of this subject, Paul wrote, “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”—vs. 17

There is a similarity of thought between Jesus ‘taking upon himself flesh and blood’ (vs. 14), and ‘being made a little lower than the angels’. These are simply two ways of stating the same thought. And by wording the idea in these two ways, emphasis is placed upon the necessity of Christ being made flesh, not only to become our ransom price, but also to experience life under the difficult circumstances provided in the imperfect, fallen world of mankind. It was necessary for him to become a sympathetic High Priest to suffer the vicissitudes and hardships of the unfriendly world.

The first High Priest of Israel, Aaron, had learned great sympathy for his people by the things which he suffered in Egypt. In the first chapter of Exodus we read how deeply Israel suffered. Pharaoh made them serve him with extraordinary rigor—even taking away their straw for making bricks, but they still had to fulfill their quota or be cruelly punished. We read, “Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Ramses. … And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage.” (vss. 11,14) From these arduous incidents, Aaron, who later became the first High Priest of Israel, learned how to be sympathetic with his people.

Jesus also qualified as a sympathetic High Priest by the things which he suffered in common with all mankind, and beyond that, the injustices and cruelty he suffered for serving God faithfully. His loyalty to the Lord led him from Jordan to Calvary, sacrificing all the way. And in this allegiance he proved himself worthy to be the High Priest of our cause.

The Apostle Paul, as recorded in Hebrews 3:1, admonished us to “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” And again in Hebrews 10:21,22, he said, “Having a High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” In ancient times, the work of the High Priest was to purify the people, and to bring them closer to God.

What did the apostle mean when he used the term, ‘the High Priest of our profession?” One who endeavors to be a ‘professional’ person must expend a great deal of time, money, and effort, and in many cases, all his time and effort, to learn the profession of his choice—for instance, a profession in medicine, aerospace, or physics. Many years are spent at universities studying, passing tests, and working as interns under close supervision, before they can be considered professional people.

There is another meaning of this word—it can also mean that a person has professed or confessed allegiance to something, or some cause. In our case, and in the case of Jesus, his loyalty was to God and to righteousness. Both of these meanings fit in very nicely with the picture we would like to draw of Jesus as the High Priest of our profession.

We have been privileged to have been called to follow after this wonderful profession! An invitation has come to us to be part of the priesthood of which Jesus was the High Priest. What steps must we take to be successful in our profession? Let us consider for a moment the scripture recorded in I Corinthians 1:26,27, “Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound them which are mighty.”

Indeed, this is the case, and for very good reason. We, as Christians, have been called from every walk of life. But only a very few have been chosen from among those the world consider noble, or rich, or wise. Instead, God has chosen those to make up the church class who have great faith and are willing to follow Jesus wherever he will lead them.

We have not been taken out of the world, but instead we are left in the world where we receive experiences which will teach us our profession. We will learn patience and sympathy, trust in God, and love for him, for our brethren, and for the poor world of mankind. In our hands we have the textbook of God, the Bible the Word of God, the bread of life. Through study of this book, we learn beautiful lessons in the lives of the ancient people of God, through the lives of the apostles, and especially the life of Jesus, which are necessary for our training to hold a ‘professional’ place in God’s kingdom.

But how can we, with so little in the way of talents and abilities to offer, and having such lowly stations in this life, become professionals who will some day be useful to God? In Philippians 2:12 and 15 we read, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear [reverence] and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

What an encouraging thought! As a result of our faith in Jesus as our Ransom, our Heavenly Father considers us blameless, without rebuke in his sight, and he bestows the Holy Spirit upon us, he begins a work in us. Where are we while this remarkable change is taking place in our lives? The apostle tells us that this work is done while we are in ‘a crooked and perverse world’. This evil world, then, is the university in which we were accepted and have qualified to learn our lessons. There we shine as lights, educated with our only textbook, the Word of God, and with the experiences God sends to us.

In Philippians 4:11-13, the Apostle Paul outlines the attitude he had toward God’s instruction during his life, and indicates that we, too, must have this same point of view. He said, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

A wonderful illustration of the Christian life is given to us in the life of Joshua. He, too, was being trained in the university of life for a future profession as an Ancient Worthy. Examining the Bible account, there is left to us no doubt that God trained Joshua to do a great work even during his lifetime—to bless the whole nation of Israel. The meaning of the name Joshua is, “The Lord is with us,” or, “Saviour.” It has the same meaning as the name Jesus. In Numbers 13 we are given a list of the twelve men whom Moses sent to spy out the land when they first reached the borders of Canaan. Oshea, or Joshua, the son of Nun, is listed as one of the spies—he was one of the two faithful spies.—vs. 8

The need for a savior was brought forcibly to mind in Israel during the trying times when Israel was waiting to escape from Egypt. While Jehovah administered the ten plagues to induce Pharaoh to release God’s people, no doubt many sons in Israel were named Oshea, or Joshua, or Jesus, in the hope, and with the prayer, that one of them would indeed be their savior.

Egypt is a picture or type of the world under subjection to Satan. Joshua was just a young man when he came out of that land. This is significant, indicating that he was not in sympathy with sin and unrighteousness, but wished early in his life to be separated from it. Many scriptures tell us that Joshua was one of Moses’ most dependable young men, whom he could call upon to minister to him whenever he needed help. (Num. 11:27,28) When we look up the word minister in Strong’s Concordance, we learn that the meaning of the word is ‘a menial’, or, in other words, a servant who served his master continually, and one who learned how to please his master.

The time came when the two faithful spies, Caleb and Joshua, and the remaining ten unfaithful spies, returned from their exploration of the land of Canaan. We read: “Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched out the land, rent their clothes, and they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search, it is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread unto us: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us, fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the Tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.”—Num.14:6-10,22-24

The attitude of the children of Israel was just like the spirit of the world. Caleb and Joshua had given a true report, and their faith assured them that God would guide them safely into the Promised Land. But the report of the ten spies concerning the fierceness of the Canaanites, filled the hearts of the people with fear. They were so frightened they wanted to kill Caleb and Joshua before they could be led into what they pictured as sure disaster. Their faith was lacking.

They had no faith in God, their great Deliverer. Although they knew that God had released them from their devilish oppressors by causing the death of the firstborn of the land of Egypt—although they knew how their great God had delivered them by parting the Red Sea, while Pharaoh and his hosts drowned in its waters—although they also knew of his leadings through the desert, and his miraculous provision of food and water in the wilderness—still they had no faith that he could vanquish their enemies and lead them safely by the hand of Moses, his servant, into the land which he had promised them.

God had reserved a punishment for those wicked men who would not give their blessing to the venture, and to approve, in faith, the entering into the Land of Canaan. God told them, “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not harkened unto my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: but my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land where into he went: and his seed shall possess it.”—Num. 14:22-24

We might think it strange that Joshua was not praised for his faithfulness in this account, as well as Caleb. Joshua had rent his clothes just as Caleb had, and he was just as strong for the Lord as Caleb had been. Joshua recorded his account of this, saying, “Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadeshbarnea to spy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. … I wholly followed the Lord my God. And Joshua blessed him and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.” (Josh. 14:7-13) It is significant to note that Caleb received an earthly inheritance through the High Priest, while Joshua received none of the land. Just as a sidelight, we make mention that this indicates that Joshua represented our Lord Jesus, who gave up his right to life here upon the earth. However, he had an incorruptible inheritance in heaven.

In Exodus 24:1314 we read: “Moses rose up, and his minister [or servant] Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and behold Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.” For forty days and forty nights Joshua was with Moses in the mount. Thus we know he did not have a hand in the manufacture or worship of the golden calf. Then, “Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was written of God, graven upon the tables. And when Joshua heard the noise of the people when they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.

“And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” (Exod. 32:15-19) Note that when Moses and Joshua were near enough to hear the noise, it was Joshua who commented about the activity in the camp. He had been in the mount for the forty days and nights with Moses no doubt remaining at a lower level on the mountainside until Moses returned to him.

As in the case one who is learning from another more mature master, such as Moses, Joshua watched him, he stayed close behind his master, he walked closely in the footsteps of Moses. We quote another passage which gives indication of Joshua’s continued closeness to Moses: “It came to pass, when Moses went out unto the Tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he had gone into the Tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the Tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the Tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the Tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshiped, every man in his tent door. And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp. But his servant Joshua, the son of Nun a young man, departed not out of the Tabernacle.”—Exod. 33:8-11

Here is another incident which emphasized how much trust God placed in Moses’ young friend and helper, Joshua. Moses, though growing old, had not lost any of his hearing or his sight, and his vigor was just as strong as when he pleaded with Pharaoh to release the children of Israel from Egypt. “The Lord said unto Moses, take ye Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thine hand upon him: and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honor upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of the Urim before the Lord.”—Num. 27:18-21

“Joshua was full of the Spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses.”—Deut. 31:14

Speaking again to Joshua, the Lord said “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage, for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the Law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.”—Josh. 1:57

Up to this time, Joshua had received no earthly blessing—no inheritance in the Promised Land—but he had the blessing of dividing the land to God’s people. He and the High Priest were able to allocate to each tribe the portion of land which, put altogether, made up the country that the Lord had promised Abraham. Joshua had learned his lessons well, and followed his master, Moses. He had surely earned his degree through many years of hardship, hard work, and the exercise of great faith.

In this lesson we recognize in Joshua a wonderful picture of Christ and his body, his church—the Messiah—in the wilderness, or in the world. This is illustrated in many of his experiences:

First, Joshua had a prior view into the Promised Land. He was one of those that went in and returned enthusiastically with a great report. He saw the magnificent clusters of grapes growing by the refreshing rivers. He saw the wonderful cattle and sheep. He must have been filled with the Spirit of the Lord when he saw the wonderful provisions God had made for his children. We, too, have this same privilege. Not only do we rejoice and luxuriate in the generous provisions of his love and favor, his offer of justification, and the invitation to be his children on the divine plane, but, as well, through the Word of God, and through our study of the Scriptures, we can look to the blessings of the Millennial Age when all mankind will be restored, and our great God will receive the honor and glory which he so richly deserves. We recognize by the signs our Master gave us that we are living very close to this wonderful period of joy and blessing! And we have the privilege of knowing that as the time draws nearer, our Heavenly Father will show us more and more about the ages of glory to follow, and his design for the things to come.

Even now we begin to see beyond the Millennial Age, into the eternal ages of glory! Of these ages to come almost nothing has been revealed to us, but because our God is so glorious, we know his plans and purposes for eternity will also be glorious.

Secondly, Joshua learned firsthand how to be prepared for his profession by receiving lessons directly from the Lord God. He had mountain top experiences which he shared with Moses. In working with Moses as he dealt with the people of God, he was taught humility by one who has been called the meekest man in all the earth. We believe that Moses was the most humble of all God’s Ancient Worthies. Joshua had the zeal and the exhilarating experience of running behind Moses, of following in his footsteps, and of learning how to deal with God’s people. Surely this too reminds us of the blessed portion which the church now enjoys.

As was mentioned in the beginning of this lesson, Jesus came into the world, not only to offer his life as a ransom price, but to learn to be a sympathetic High Priest. In the experiences of Joshua we find that he, too, learned from the character and principles that he saw exemplified in Moses. As he learned more and more to appreciate those qualities, he followed Moses’ example in his judgments of the people. As we, read in Exodus and Leviticus, Joshua truly followed Moses’ model faithfully, learning all the lessons that God intended to teach him.

Thirdly, Joshua was filled with the Spirit of wisdom by the laying on of the hands of Moses. Remember, God said to Moses, “Give him some of thine honor.” Joshua had the unspeakable blessing of having the hands of Moses laid on him that he might receive some of his honor. We too brethren, have received this same blessing. We too, receive this indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We will have the Spirit grow in us, if we too are willing to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Master. If we pray for it, he will give each an increase of the Spirit, by sending experiences to us, which, if rightly exercised by will so invigorate us, and fill us more and more with that wisdom which comes from above!

Fourth, and lastly, we would say that Joshua’s aims were the same as ours are. Our hope is that we may lead the children of God—the whole world of mankind—into their Promised Land—the kingdom for which we all pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” May it be soon!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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