How do we approach the book of Joshua, the story of the conquest of the promised land, the story of this great leader of Israel? The book is named after him and his name is on every page. He’s meant to be central in the story.
His parents had called him Hoshea. Hoshea means salvation. But when Moses sent him to spy out the land of Canaan at Kadesh-Barnea along with eleven other men, he changed his name to Joshua. Joshua means salvation is from the LORD. That’s a promise; in fact, that’s the gospel. And when the Lord sent His own Son into the world, He told Joseph and Mary to give Him that name, too.
We think of Joshua as a history book. But when the people of the old covenant described their Bible, there was no section called history books. For them, it was simply, the Law, or the Law and the Prophets, or maybe the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms, or the Writings. And they put Joshua into the section called the Prophets.
That’s how we have to understand the message of Joshua: salvation prophecy. Biblically speaking, prophecy means in the first place, telling the wonderful works of God in saving His people. God’s actions in the past shed light on the future and show how God is going to save His people in Jesus Christ. So this book is the gospel of the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Joshua, and the gospel of the greater Joshua, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has defeated our enemies and causes us to receive the greater inheritance of a new heaven and a new earth.
In July 2019, Rev. Wynia presented meditations based on chapters 1-6 of Joshua; in this devotional, he takes us through chapters 7-12.
Breaking faith with the Lord
“But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things.” – Joshua 7:1a
Scripture reading: Joshua 7:1
The first word of our text comes as a shock. Until this moment, everything that we’ve heard has been positive. Everything was going exactly the way it was supposed to. The LORD told Joshua and Israel exactly what they had to do and they did it, just as the LORD commanded them to. They trusted in His promises and they obeyed His commands. The Jordan River opened up for them; the walls of Jericho fell down. The last thing we read in chapter 6 was, “The LORD was with Joshua and his fame was in all the land.”
And then all of a sudden, But. But the people of Israel broke faith with regard to the devoted things.
The Spirit is making a point here about Achan’s sin. He’s saying, This isn’t just about stealing or disobeying. Sometimes that’s what we tend to do with our sin. We make it small, you might say that we broke a rule or we did something wrong. We don’t want to look into our hearts, and ask, Why did I do that? And what have I said to God by doing what I did?
We need to admit to ourselves and confess to God that whatever our sin may be, stealing, lying, or putting our trust in money, we haven’t just broken some rules. We’ve broken faith with God. The only way to be restored is to confess our sin and seek His forgiveness in Christ.
Suggestions for prayer
Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to your sin, to help you see it for what it is, and to trust the promise that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness.
Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON.