Read Joshua 10:29-11:23
So Joshua took control of the entire land, just as the LORD had instructed Moses. He gave it to the people of Israel as their special possession, dividing the land among the tribes. So the land finally had rest from war. (Joshua 11:23 NLT)
I have to admit, I am glad that my reading this week has finally come to this place in the story. I struggle through stories of war and entire towns being wiped out. Some people get fired up about this kind of thing. I have heard sermon after sermon about God’s power and might being exercised through Joshua’s obedience and leadership. This story is rallying point for many Christians — one used to motivate and fire people up to face their own battles with confidence in God’s strength to overcome. This is not that kind of story for me. Maybe this makes me weird, but this story actually makes me sad. I know God, yes as powerful and mighty… as one who has the power to overcome even the most formidable foe. More so I know God to be loving and compassionate and merciful, and quite frankly that is hard to reconcile with stories of men, women, and children being killed… even at the hand of “God’s army.” Personally, I don’t picture God sitting on the throne in Heaven shouting, “Hoorah!” at the end of each battle. Actually, I picture quite the opposite. I picture God weeping for those who were lost. Weeping because it had come to this point; the point where the path to restoring creation to oneness and unity with God meant leading his people to do things like what we have just read. Things must have been pretty bad for God to determine that this was the only way forward. Go ahead. Take away my Christian “man-card”, but I don’t think God celebrates that any part of his creation was lost. I am, however, thankful that God is powerful and strong enough to do what I never could to restore creation (me included) to relationship with him… no matter the cost. This path of war and destruction wasn’t without cost to God. I believe, in fact, that it cost God deeply. I’m certain it hurt beyond measure. There is so much that I don’t understand… and I just have to come to terms with that. My prayer today is simply one of thanks. Thanks that God has been willing, across time and space to do all that has been necessary to restore and redeem his creation. I am humbled by your love, Father.