After Moses the Lord’s servant died, the Lord spoke to Joshua, Nun’s son. He had been Moses’ helper. 2 “My servant Moses is dead. Now get ready to cross over the Jordan with this entire people to the land that I am going to give to the Israelites. 3 I am giving you every place where you set foot, exactly as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will stretch from the desert and the Lebanon as far as the great Euphrates River, including all Hittite land, up to the Mediterranean Sea on the west. 5 No one will be able to stand up against you during your lifetime. I will be with you in the same way I was with Moses. I won’t desert you or leave you. 6 Be brave and strong, because you are the one who will help this people take possession of the land, which I pledged to give to their ancestors. Joshua 1:1-6, CEB
Joshua ends up being a pretty disturbing book. I do not know what to make of some of it. There’s a lot of violence. God brings his people into the land that he wants them to have, but in order to get it, they have to, ehem, remove other people from it first. I have a lot of questions about that and I’ve never really found much in the way of a satisfactory answer. I have heard some really helpful thoughts, though, if anyone is ever interested in that particular conversation.
God’s discipline lasted for a little while and now the people get what God promised. God didn’t withhold or change his promises based on the fact that the people “acted a fool”, but he did delay his promises a bit. Now they have something else to be thankful for, they have something else to add to the list. They’re not a world power. They’re not an empire. But, they have the home God promised. For them this meant safety and security. It meant that they could have a future. The land was a symbol of Israel’s hope that God would provide and honor his part of the relationship. It’s something God promised all the way back to Abraham, and the people held on to that hope ever since. They didn’t hope just because they wanted their own land so badly but because of what getting the land would mean- that God cared for them, provided for them, was honest with them and faithful to them.
It came with it’s own sets of problems and challenges and temptations. But, it serves as yet another example of God standing by his promise to be faithful to his people. He brought them out of slavery, brought them through wilderness, and brought them into the land.
He continues to show them time and again what kind of God he is. He doesn’t do this through giving them doctrines to believe, but instead through acting in ways that show his people who he is. All he asks is that the people, as a unit, also try to act in ways that show people who he is. This is how people continue to live out the task he gave back in Genesis: take care of creation.
In this same way, we learn who God is. It’s less important that we be able to less attributes, characteristics, or doctrines than it is to truly know and believe deep down that God is a God who saves and he’s worth committing to. And he’s worth trying to imitate in our lives. He shows up for his people time and time again.
Are we thankful for that kind of God? How does that change us?