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Week 10 - Deuteronomy 32-34, Joshua 1-24, Judges 1-3, Psalm 64-70

This week we are going to be reading the whole book of Joshua! It is no surprise to say that some of the themes presented in Joshua are a bit hard to understand. We may ask questions like: How can a loving God command his people to completely wipe out entire civilizations? Or, it seems cruel that God would take one people's ancestral homeland and give it to someone else.


I think that the key to understand what is happening in Joshua is actually found earlier in the Bible in several places:


In Deuteronomy 9, Moses gives the Israelites a window into God's intent when he commands them to drive out all of the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. He says,


After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, "The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness." No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you.


The conquest of the land had several layers of purpose. On one level, God had promised to Abraham and his descendants that he would give them this land as their own. But on another level, the conquest also served as divine judgment against the evil being committed by the people living in the land.


Way back in Genesis 15:16, God says to Abraham, "In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."


Even that far in the past, God knows that the giving of this land to Israel will be a multi-faceted fulfillment of his plan. It is truly an immense divine plan that can account for both the promise made to Israel, and also justice against other nations.


Understanding Israel as the instrument of divine judgment against corrupted nations also serves to explain why God seems to be on a bit of a hair trigger against the Israelites in this book. The event that I am thinking about is Achan's sin. How can God pull away his support so quickly? And after they kill Achan and his family, how can he give his support back so quickly?


I think it is due to Israel's role as the instrument of God's judgment against the Canaanite peoples. The Israelites were occupying a role that was much bigger than themselves, for a particular moment in God's history.


We should not receive Joshua as grounds for God's people to adopt a conquest type of mentality with the world. Because if we did, the same holy perfection demanded of Israel would also be demanded of us, and the sin of Achan would be judged in us over every imperfection in our lives.


We, the church, live in light of a conquest that has already been completed. Jesus has won, and he now commissions us to be a community of love and service.

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