As we read through the book of Joshua, we are going to encounter some verses which may be uncomfortable to understand as we begin looking to a greater Joshua in Jesus Christ. Phrases like “devoted to destruction” (Joshua 2:10) and “exterminate without mercy” (Joshua 11:20), are quite powerful regarding hearing of how God deals with certain groups of people. Could we possibly be dealing with divinely inspired ethnic cleansing?
How Did We Get Here?
The promise of the covenant to Abram (Genesis 15) has brought us to the edge of the Jordan, and God is not looking to go back on what he already promised His people. Dave reminded us in his sermon on Joshua 1, “God’s promise is not dependent on human initiative. God’s promises are dependent on God’s faithfulness.” (Deuteronomy 9:5) We have already seen together in the first two chapters of Joshua that God has proven faithful in his plan and purposes.
The Old Testament is full of rebellion. We learned in Joshua 2 about the rebellion of the people in Canaan and the fear they possessed because of the judgments God previously worked out through the people of Israel. God has not come to initiate an ethnic cleansing but has come to impart justice. Israel comes to be the judges of the rebellion and the people of Canaan are not being judged because of their ethnicity, but because of their wickedness.
God is not in the business of just clearing people out of territories and removing enemies from the lives of His people because He can. God is being faithful to His chosen people and upholding his Covenants made with Abram and Moses. He is bringing into focus Jesus, who will set all of us free from the sin that enslaves us. This freedom would require the death of His Son, a death that will lead to a glorious resurrection and redemption for His people.
Trust in His Faithfulness.
To live into this promise as inheritors of the New Covenant means we fight to believe in the faithfulness of the Father. Where the things we read in Scripture can often be uncomfortable, God is working for the benefit of His people. His desire is to bring glory to himself through the love he has for us and the love He calls us to have for others. The narrative of Scripture shows us the beauty of God’s faithfulness and his promise to fulfill His covenants with His people.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23).