God’s gales… (Joshua 21-24)

November 11, 2010

Tonight there are gales blowing in the streets of Manchester. Walking home I saw autumn leaves, which had been neatly swept to the side of the streets, surge up like an orange army and dart around. As I watched them dance frantically, and felt them hit me in the face a few times, I was reminded of the irresistible power of God.

As I come to the end of the book of Joshua I get the sense that it is written to remind the Israelites of the same. At various points they are told “not one of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (21:45). They are told that it was God, not them that fought and won the battles,  that their success were because of their obedience to and faith in the Lord.

In Joshua’s final speech in Chapter 24 (if the book of Joshua were a film this speech would end it accompanied by some rousing music) he reminds the Israelites of their history from Abraham through to their slavery in Egypt and deliverance to the ‘promised land’. He also reminds them that if they are not faithful to God then they can be cut down just as they were built up.

Although the vision of God who fights battles and obliterates nations is not one I hold dear, I do see the power of this narrative. It is giving the people of Israel an identity in God and ensuring that the Lord is at the centre of their lives. It is reminding them that is not upon themselves that they rely, but upon God; that His power moves through us, but that doesn’t make it our power. Something we could all be reminded of.

So, though Joshua is unlikely to ever be my favourite book, I’ve come a journey since my earlier posts. I’ve realise that me wishing that they had brokered peace-keeping agreements and had group-hugs with their neighbouring nations can led me to look at the cultural context rather than the more enduring message.

The power of God moves through us. Can we yield and dance like leaves in the wind…

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