Strong and Courageous | Day Six
By: Kate Downing
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Welcome to week two of Strong and Courageous! Last week we saw God call Joshua to be strong and courageous as he took a position of leadership over an entire nation. We also saw God prove Himself to be a powerful and faithful God. As we continue to study the book of Joshua this week, we will see even more clearly why God’s call for us to be strong and courageous is really a call for us to be trusting and obedient!
Before we dive in, take a few minutes to pray over these things:
· Thank God for the specific things He is teaching you about being strong and courageous.
· Thank Him that He is a powerful and faithful God.
· Ask Him to speak to you today through His Word.
We are about to enter into the “conquest” portion of the book of Joshua. Chapters 6-12 contain some incredible accounts of how God provided great victory for the people of Israel as they took possession of the land God had promised to give them. But, before we begin to study these action-packed stories of God’s power and faithfulness, we need to spend a little time understanding how God’s justice and goodness fit together.
Joshua 6:21 says, “They [the people of Israel] devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.”
That last part of the verse can be hard to swallow. God’s people killed everyone in the city they conquered…men, women, and children? Yes, that’s what they did, and in fact, it is what God asked of them. There are two reasons God asked this of His people. Let’s look at those together.
1) God loved His people too much to allow them to be destroyed by the sin of others
Read Deuteronomy 20:16-18. What did God ask the Israelites to do in these verses?
What did God say would happen if they didn’t obey this command (vs. 18)?
When God used the word “detestable” in this verse, He meant it. The practices of the people living in Canaan (the Promised Land) at this time were absolutely detestable. Here are just a few of the things they were guilty of:
· Sexual abuse as a “religious practice”
· Gruesome murder
· Child sacrifice
These horrific practices were commonplace in the cities of Canaan. Historical accounts of this time period tell us that thousands of children were sacrificed to the Canaanite gods. God knew His people well enough to know that if such wicked people were allowed to remain in the land, they would quickly lead the Israelites into sin.
2) God is just
Isaiah 61:8, God says: “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing…”
God is a just God. That means it is a foundational aspect of His character to uphold right and wrong. He cannot and will not ignore sin. This is an incredible character trait! It means that we can trust God to faithfully seek justice on our behalf. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.
God is just, but He does not always deliver “instant justice.” He is a long-suffering God who gives us opportunity after opportunity to recognize our sin and repent of it. (For more on this, check out our Jonah study)
He was long-suffering toward the people of Canaan as well. He gave them 40 years to repent of their sin! Remember Rahab in Joshua 2? She and all the people of the land had heard about God. They all had the opportunity to turn from their sin and trust Him; however, Rahab was the only one who did so. God had every right to punish the people of Canaan. They had acted wickedly, I mean WICKEDLY, and had ignored God’s call for repentance for 40 YEARS!
Why is God’s justice important to understand? It will help us have the right context as we study the accounts of Joshua and the Israelites taking possession of the land. And, it helps us be strong and courageous. We can trust that God will not ignore the wrong that has been done to us. It may seem like God is ignoring your pain or is taking His sweet time punishing those who have hurt you, but take hope in the promises He gives you in these verses:
Read over these verses again and ask God to help you trust Him to avenge you, to right any wrongs that have been committed against you. Then, thank Him ahead of time for the justice He promises to bring on your behalf.
Complete this sentence and write it down in your notes or on your phone: