Joshua and Judges are exciting books. I love the action and intrigue. In this passage from Joshua 10, Israel has just won a brutal war, rather God has won it for them. Some of their enemies surrendered and became allies. Those who did not surrender were completely defeated; leaving buy a few survivors. Those few went home telling of the Israelites mighty God, and as a result, many of Israel’s enemies were gravely frightened.
The story is a terrific one, with God sending hailstorms, and kings locked up in caves. The earth stops turning, allowing the Israelites to finish the battle, and in the end, when the battle is won, Joshua delivers God’s promise:
… “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”
Not every promise found in the Old Testament applies to 21st century Christians. Three things can be taken from this passage, though. The first is that this really happened. God really did intervene on Israel’s behalf. The story of the sun standing still in the sky is found in the tribal memory of ancient cultures worldwide. He still intervenes on behalf of Israel. See the link at the end of this post to read one such story.
Secondly, God really did direct Joshua to kill the kings that he had taken captive. In the same way, He sometimes directed the armies of Israelto kill every man, woman, and child in the cities of their enemies. This today seems cruel and savage, but there is no denying that it happened. I could try to excuse these actions a dozen different ways, but the truth is our God is not only merciful but just. Mercy and justice go hand-in-hand. One without the other is meaningless. If He does not mete out justice to those who are beyond redemption then His mercy for those who seek Him would mean nothing. We can only begin to comprehend the slightest spark of the mind and actions of the holy God. We should never dare to pass judgment on Him or His people.
Finally, the Old Testament is full of illustrations that help us understand our relationship with the living, indwelling Lord of our lives. How can we apply this passage to our lives? Think of the Nation of Israel as the life of a Christian and her enemies as the sin with which we struggle. There is no way we – fallible beings that we are – can defeat sin: not on our own, without God’s help. There was no way Israel could have defeated her enemies had God not intervened. Only with God’s divine intervention can we be rescued from the bondage of sin. Deliver us He will, if we surrender to Him.
Surrender, though, is just the beginning. Good also demands discipline from His children. Don’t be surprised if God directs us deal the final blow (the death blow, one might say) to the sins from which He has delivered us. Don’t worry, though, for He never calls us to a task for which He has not empowered us.
Are you struggling with your deepest, darkest secret sins? Don’t fear. Don’t be discouraged. In the same way that God destroyed the enemies of Israel, He will defeat the sins that bind you.