Sunday, January 18, 2009

Seeds of Israel's Destruction in Joshua

Joshua is a book of conquest. It's a book of victory and glory days.

Joshua is the opposite of Judges, where "everyone did was right in his own eyes," where Israel religion ran amok with syncretism and idolatry and its consequent experience of foreign oppression.

This has been my view of Joshua.

But as I've been reading it again, I've noticed that's not quite accurate. The truth is, there is some of the spirit of Judges in the book of Joshua. There are victories, yes, but there are also failures--failures that foreshadow the spiritual waywardness that comes to characterize Israel's history.

Consider the alternating pattern of highs and lows:
  • Josh 6: Israel conquers Jericho!
  • Josh 7: Defeated by Ai--sin in the camp; uh oh.
  • Josh 8: Israel conquers Ai!
  • Josh 9: Deceived by Gibeon--lack of prayer; uh oh.
Consider the account of the circumcision of Israel's men in chapter 5. The question is, why aren't these men already circumcised according to the stipulations of the law of Moses? This event reveals an inattention to God's law.

Somewhat humorously I would also ask you to consider 1:17 where the Israelites promise Joshua, "We will obey you, just as we obeyed Moses in everything" (HCSB). Considering how well the Israelites obeyed Moses, I don't know how Joshua could consider that good news.

The point is, Israel was hardly ever "on its game;" they were hardly ever the people God wanted them to be. Even in Joshua they demonstrate spiritual waywardness, doing things their own way. They fail to circumcise on the 8th day. They covet things that don't belong to them even though God has promised them abundance. They slack in prayer and suffer the consequences of relying on themselves rather than on God.

Lessons for us: 1) Be reminded that we all need to pray to Christ, "I need Thee every hour." 2) Praise the Lord for his grace, for "prone to wander, Lord, I feel it"!

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