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March 29 – The Arc de Triomphe

Now these are the kings of the land whom the people of Israel defeated and took possession of their land beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise, from the Valley of the Arnon to Mount Hermon, with all the Arabah eastward. . . . And these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the people of Israel defeated on the west side of the Jordan.” –  Joshua 12:1,7 

Scripture reading: Joshua 12

Even if we’ve never been to Paris to see the real thing, many of us have at least seen pictures of the Arc de Triomphe. It’s one of the landmarks of that city. It was commissioned by Napoleon, in imitation of the emperors of ancient Rome, who built more than fifty triumphal arches celebrating glorious victories.

You could almost describe Joshua 12 as a kind of triumphal arch, a monument built in words, because it records the great victories of the first two Israelite generals, Moses and Joshua, for the same reason that those arches of the Roman Empire did. It doesn’t only mean to say, here are some things that happened in the past. It wants to make an impression; it wants to communicate a message that goes beyond just passing on the historical information.

You can divide the book of Joshua into several parts. Chapter 12 closes off the first part of the book, which tells the story of Israel entering the Promised Land and conquering it. And the writer of Joshua closes off the story of the conquest of Canaan with this catalog of the cities that were conquered by Moses and Joshua in order to show that the conquest was complete.

This record of Israel’s complete conquest of Canaan is a prophecy of the complete conquest of the world, when the God of peace crushes Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20), and the great Conqueror Jesus Christ establishes His eternal kingdom.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God for the promise, embodied in this passage, that Jesus will carry out a complete conquest of the world and on the day when His victory is complete, we will enjoy eternal rest and never be troubled by our enemies.

Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON.

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