For many churchgoers today, the Old Testament Book of Joshua is only about ancient battles and bloodshed. Sure the walls of Jericho fell down flat, but what does that have to do with me? Liberal church leaders will even condemn the book because it seemingly encourages “ethnic cleansing.”
As Reformed Christians, we see a far bigger truth being played out in the pages of this book. These chapters demonstrate well the intense and intimate nature of the process that God used in order to bring about His promised Messiah: how God worked in man and through man in order to save man!
We also see in Joshua how our Sovereign God is not only in control of the outcome of individual battles, but how He also determines and guides the rise and fall of every nation on earth. All nations, all kings, right down to every individual, play a role in our Lord’s eternally devised plan to bring about and secure the salvation of His elect people.
That is the greater “Story” going on in this book: the sovereign work and almighty action of our God in redeeming His people. From our studies this month, may we learn of how our Redeeming God continues to work out His great plan of salvation in the hearts and lives of His people still today.
All came to pass
“Not a word failed or any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” – Joshua 21:45
We begin our study of Joshua with verses that explain why this historical record was written: as a testimony to God’s covenant faithfulness! God is sovereign and “all comes to pass” of everything He ordains, therefore He can be entrusted with our life. We can follow Him in all confidence.
Liberal scholars take exception to this. They contend that this book should not be read by us. “Joshua is too gory,” they proclaim. “Here is an Old Testament God of vengeance Who commands the Jews to steal the land that belongs to others and to commit genocide in the process! We demand a ‘kinder and gentler’ God than Who we see here.” We respond by admitting that there is bloodshed in this book, but we read Joshua in the light of the first five books of the Bible. There God reveals Himself as being absolutely holy and morally pure. He created us perfect and He warned us that He hates sin, promising death for anyone who did sin.
Thus, the elimination of the pagan tribes of Canaan must be seen by us as God sees it: the holy, moral, and natural outcome of human sin. God’s righteous judgment must be against man’s sinful rebellion. Divine justice. “All came to pass” just as God promised. God will judge our sin as well. Do not ignore this truth! Apart from Jesus Christ, we too are “sinners in the hands of an angry God.” Trust in Jesus, for only in Him is there salvation for our soul.
Suggestions for prayer
Confess God’s holiness and your sinfulness. Thank Him for this time of grace and for the sending of His Son. Ask Him to give you spiritual eyes to see the great truths found in the Book of Joshua.