Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 2: Tuesday
Today in Joshua 6–10, Israel’s conquest of Canaan begins; however, after their first two victories, they quickly encounter consequences of disobedience to God.
The remarkable thing is that they had already seen their own parents face consequences of rebellion against God and lack of faith in Him; that generation, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, was prevented by God from crossing the Jordan River and had to wander 40 years in the wilderness until they had all died. The people Joshua led had not learned from the example that was right in front of them. The application for us is obvious.
After Jericho is destroyed in chapter 6, Israel finds itself defeated by Ai in chapter 7, because Achan had disobeyed God and kept looted goods from Jericho. Upon their defeat, rather than questioning Israel to determine if any had disobeyed God, Joshua’s prayer to God echoes the complaints of those led by Moses out of Egypt,
God responds is in short order and to the point.
God tells him Ai’s victory was due to sin, and then directs Joshua on discovering and punishing the guilty. In chapter 8, Israel is then able to defeat Ai, and in the wake of this victory, goes to Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim as Moses had commanded. With half the tribes in front of Mount Ebal, and half in front of Mount Gerizim, he builds an altar on Mount Ebal, and writes the Law of Moses upon it.
Hugh Blair writes:
Six tribes on Gerizim said ‘Amen’ to the blessings and six on Ebal said ‘Amen” to the curses. ‘History can furnish few scenes so impressive in moral grandeur as that of a nation solemnly embracing God’s law as the rule of its life and the condition of its prosperity’ (Fairweather, From the Exodus to the Monarchy).1
In his chapter, “Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim,” Francis Schaeffer explains:
It is significant that the altar was not built on Gerizim, the mountain of blessing, but on Ebal, the mountain from which was declared what would happen when the people sinned. This was a strong reminder to the people that they were not going to be perfect and that they would therefore need an altar. In this we should hear God saying, “You shouldn’t sin. But when you do sin, I will give you a way to return to me, through the altar.” So while the people were warned of what would occur when they sinned, ther were also taught from the very beginning that there would be a way of return.2
When approached by the deceitful Gibeonites in chapter 9, they fail to ask the Lord for counsel and end up making a covenant with the Gibeonites, only to find out they have been tricked.
Finally, after these hard lessons, in chapter 10, there is victory after victory for Joshua and his people. Why?
Remember Paul’s word in Romans?
How are these chapters in Joshua a lamp to your feet and a light to the path you are walking? What do you learn from them? How do they encourage you?
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The Taking of Jericho, James Tissot: The Jewish Museum, New York NY. Public Domain.
1Hugh J. Blair, “Joshua,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds. (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 242.
2Francis Schaeffer, “Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim,” Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1975) 122.
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