After the death of Moses, God chose Joshua, a gifted military general, to lead His people.
In short, Joshua was tasked with bringing the Israelites out of a bleak, four-decades-long wilderness experience marked by death and unrest and into a rich new life in Canaan, the land said to be “flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 6:3).
Once settled in that land, God’s desire was for His people to experience peace and rest. How fitting that Joshua’s name in Hebrew is Yeshua, which means, “Yahweh is salvation.”
Some fourteen centuries later, a baby boy was born in this part of the world. The child’s name? Joshua—Yeshua—or translated into Greek, Jesus. The parallelism isn’t coincidental.
God wants us to see that in the same way Joshua delivered his people from a restless existence into a place of peace and fullness, so Jesus, the new Joshua, offers to lead all those wandering in spiritual deserts everywhere (Hebrews 4:8) to a place of ultimate rest.
The historical context is important when we read that the prophet Isaiah calls God El Yeshuati. This is a variant of Yeshua, and a way of saying that God is the God of our salvation. God’s salvation is wonderfully comprehensive.
It encompasses the past, present, and future. And it includes every aspect of life. It is spiritual, to be sure—the forgiveness of sin, and imparting of new life. But it is also physical and temporal (many of the cries for deliverance in the Bible are pleas for God to rescue His people from temporal enemies and earthly troubles).
In short, we have a God who can and does bring us out of (or through) all kinds of messes: relational, occupational, emotional, social, and financial.
By calling God El Yeshuati, Isaiah reminds us of two great truths: (1) We are in desperate need of rescue; and (2) our God is the One who can provide that needed deliverance. Because His heart desires to give rest and victory, He is mighty to save and intent on liberating, redeeming, bringing out, and restoring.
By focusing on El Yeshuati, we model the hope expressed in Psalm 68:20: “Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.”
When we focus on God as the author and finisher of our salvation, it drives us to be dependent on Him.
What wilderness experience, what long difficulty, are you experiencing? How can you persist in asking God for his salvation?