Monday, 24 March 2014

(84) March 25: Joshua 11-13 & Luke 4:1-32

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider why Joshua didn’t need to be afraid.

To ponder:
A “huge army” of a broad alliance comes against Israel. God promised Abraham descendents as “numerous as the sand on the seashore” (Gen 22v17). So describing this army that way stresses their equivalence to the people of God, and their threat to the promise. But, probably through a prophet (Deut 18v14-22), God again told Joshua “do not be afraid.” And he needn’t be: First, because God promised to hand the enemy over slain. Second, because God had brought about their hostility himself. He had “hardened” them so that they would not make a treaty with Israel, but rather be “destroyed” by the LORD in judgement – just as with Pharoah (11v20, Ex 10v1-2).
            Our struggle against the principalities and powers, and those who follow them, can bring genuine fear of falling into sin, of falling away from Christ, or of hardship or persecutions inflicted on us or our families. As with Israel, we cannot expect to pass into our inheritance without a battle, nor without some wounds. But we need not fear as God has promised these enemies will be destroyed, and if we trust him, we will overcome. Moreover, we know that even their hostility is somehow part of his purpose (Eph 1v11). Indeed, Paul writes that just as with the Canaanites, God hardens those who reject the truth by sending them “a powerful delusion” so that they will be rightly “condemned” for their sin (2 Thess 2v11-12).
            In defeating this alliance it is repeated that Joshua did just as “the LORD commanded.” 11v13 probably refers to the fact that although their cities were destroyed, only Hazor was burnt, so the mounds (or ruins) of the others could be inhabited (Deut 6v10).
            There are hints that the lists of kings and perhaps battles in Joshua is not exhaustive. And we learn Joshua “waged war…for a long time.” Nevertheless we are told he “took the entire land,” which then “had rest from war” (11v16, 23). However, after the defeated kings east and then west of the Jordan are listed, 13v1 tells us that God told an elderly Joshua that “there are still very large areas of land to be taken.” So although Joshua brought the land under general Israelite control, it was down to future generations to bring about the complete defeat of its peoples. Indeed, God had promised it would take time (Deut 7v22).
            To different degrees this is the experience of Christians. Until Christ returns our work of evangelism will never be completed, nor our battle with sin. We can never sit back and declare “job done.” We must keep waging war against the evil one by preaching the gospel to others and holding to it ourselves, for it alone is the power of God for salvation.
            After an outline of the land to be taken God again promises to “drive out” those from certain regions. He then stresses that all “this land” (ie. 13v2-6a) must be allocated to the nine and a half tribes due to settle west of the Jordan, and as instructed. The allocation of the land east of the river to the other two and a half tribes is then outlined. But, with a hint at Israel’s failure to properly complete the task, we read of those not driven out who continue to live amongst them (13v13) - a potential snare (Deut 7v16). Levi’s inheritance comprises not land, but their privileged service of God (13v33) and “the offerings” made by fire. This may refer to the portion of the grain offerings the priests received, or the tithes the Levites received to maintain them as they looked after everything involved in offerings.

Praying it home:
Thank God that although we may suffer as Christians, we need not fear being overcome. Pray for Christian you know who are suffering or being persecuted, that they would be confident of this, looking to the Lord to fight for them.

Thinking further:
For the NIV Study Bible introduction to Joshua click here.

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