After a very profitable study from the book of Ephesians, I knew I needed to discipline myself to study some from the Old Testament next. Our pastor is working through Exodus right now, and it has been an excellent series on how God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt gives us a blueprint for the ultimate salvation He provides through Christ. But despite the good experience in Exodus, I’ve sat under some really bad teaching from the Old Testament over the years and have to work hard to unlearn the old ways of reading it from preachers who don’t look to the New Testament as the ultimate Bible commentary on the Old. All that to say, I still have to make myself read the Old Testament, and right now, I’m making myself read Joshua.
Joshua has been very difficult for me. It comes on the heals of Exodus, which is truly a beautiful, clear picture of the coming salvation through Christ. Exodus points to Him from multiple angles and shows God’s mercy again and again toward those who can not deliver themselves. In contrast, Joshua is about a bunch of battles. Fight after fight. They kill everyone (or most everyone) and publicly execute their kings, and everyone else runs hiding. It was unpleasant to read. The first thing that was clear is that God is not for everyone. That is likely the hardest truth there is to accept in all of orthodox Christianity. I wonder, why doesn’t God save everyone?! And then I remember that the cross of Christ demands I change my question to, “Why does God save anyone?” When God steps to save in Exodus, He makes it look easy. But when He steps in with ultimate salvation at the cross, we see that it was anything but easy for Him. It cost Him everything. Understanding that truth is the only way I can move from distress that He doesn’t save everyone to fall-on-my-face humble thankfulness that He saves me.
Thankfully, as I progressed through my study of Joshua, God finally made it very clear what His purpose was for all those who read it. In fact, He says it in no uncertain terms at the end of Joshua 21.
41 The cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the people of Israel were in all forty-eight cities with their pasturelands. 42These cities each had its pasturelands around it. So it was with all these cities.
43 Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. 44 And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
There it is. THIS is the point of what God did for Israel and what He is teaching us today of His character when we read it. Yahweh keeps His promises. Yahweh does what He says. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
This is your Father, dear sister in Christ. If you are in the midst of circumstances that make your heavenly Father look ineffective or uncaring, be encouraged. Your Father has made real promises to you, and His character is that He always keeps them.
Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.