Not Ashamed of Joshua

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I love the book of Joshua.  It’s the like the book of Acts in the Old Testament.  We see God work miraculously, we see God’s people living obediently, and we see God’s kingdom expanding rapidly. 

But some people do have reservations about the book because of the themes of conquest and violence.  So let me justify the book in brief list form.

  1. The Land Belongs To God. It’s His to give and His to take away.  He gives it to the Canaanites.  He takes it from them to give to Israel.  He takes it from Israel to give to foreign powers.  So while many nations have stewarded the land, it’s always been God’s land to give and take away as He pleases.
  2. The Canaanites wanted war. It’s not as though the people living in the land peacefully welcomed Israel. They did not. The most extensive battle description in the book comes as Israel defends herself against a coalition of Canaanite kings.
  3. The Canaanites were not nice people. Child-sacrifice was a regular religious ritual. This was not a culture God deemed worthy of preserving.    
  4. I’m a Christian believer, not a Jewish believer. As a Christian, I understand that the physical warfare of the Old Testament has been replaced by a spiritual warfare in the New Testament.  Jesus’ opponents were never people, but powers and principalities. The same is true for us today.
  5. But judgment and destruction are coming. To use big theological words, there is eschatological continuity between the book of Joshua and Jesus’ own teaching in the gospels. A time is coming for this world like the time came for these Canaanite cities. A time of judgment and destruction is coming. The prince of peace came. He has shown us the way to peace. But when Jesus comes again he comes as the warrior king and you’re either for him or against him. There’s no middle ground. And those against him, well, let’s just say that’s a bad choice.          
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