Day 111, April 21, 2021
Scriptures: Joshua 8, Proverbs 21, Psalm 33
Proverbs 21:30 No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel, can avail against the Lord.
As we read in Joshua, no armies will avail against the Lord, either.
We have entered into what will be a difficult several weeks of reading because of the violence that permeates the text of Joshua and Judges.
Entire cities will be ransacked, and people killed at the hand of the Israelites. We contrast the destruction of Ai, the impaling of its king with Psalm 33 “May your unfailing Love be with us Lord.”
We can wrestle with the violence of the Old Testament. How do we reconcile the God of love found in the New Testament, and the Old Testament’s usage of violence to accomplish God’s purposes?
It’s difficult and my short thought on it won’t properly do justice for the volumes of books that have been written on the matter of understanding God in light of the OT and NT.
Here’s my take on the violence of the Old Testament. The purging of evil came at great sacrifice of people. The Israelites wouldn’t have been able to live in the Promised Land safely had the corrupt people not be ousted from the land. God knew the hearts of the people would be easily persuaded away from Him if they did not purge the land of evil. They fall short of this endeavor, and evil will get the better of the Israelites. Trouble will come.
But there is a greater sacrifice to rid the world of evil. It comes not at the sacrifice of people and violence. God takes the violence of the world upon himself. God exhaust the darkness of its power. God takes on death, hatred, anger, violence, and frees us by the destruction of death’s power.
It doesn’t end the conversation. As we read this, we keep Christ in focus. God is opposed to violence. So opposed to it, he will lay his life down to empty it of its power. Christ will be the sacrifice to end all sacrifice. He will take the violence of the world upon his shoulders, that violence would no longer be the way in which his purposes are accomplished.
We can join with the Israelites what they sensed to know about God, what the Spirit revealed to them: “A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. 17 The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save. 18 Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, 19 to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield. 21 Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” (Psalm 33:16-22)
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.