Sunday, August 11, 2013

Joshua's Battles (part 4)

In the end though, because Jesus is reigning and because He has a people in covenant with Him through their confession of Him as Lord of all, in spite of the evil that can be seen, each and every time a true divine image-bearer (Jesus believer) is successfully able to gain a victory over the powers that attempt to compel a joining in the evil---each time a covenant member engages in an act of sacrifice and love that benefits only the recipient---then and there is one able to overcome the self-idolatry that was the primary reason for mankind’s initial rebellion against the responsibility given by the Creator God.

It is in this way that the covenant people, with a nod to ancient Israel in purpose if not methods, consistently attempts to annihilate the obstinate enemy.  They do so, thankfully, in an exercise of mercy, knowing that before Jesus accepted them into His kingdom by an act of mercy, they stood in the same position as these kings and enemies of Israel, in need of that mercy but deserving of none.  In such engagements, as believers are able to overcome, they begin to rightly bear that long-lost divine image, and in doing so, are able to embody and manifest Jesus’ ultimate victory over evil. 

With each act of mercy and self-sacrificial love, believers point to the fact that Jesus does indeed reign, and that through the mysterious activity of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the Gospel (Jesus is Lord) in both word and deed, the power of transformation and renewal and restoration and reconciliation is at work in this world.  Not only is it proven to be at work, but all of these things are reminders that it has been at work ever since the tomb was split open and Resurrection power flooded into this world. 

The Creator God enables His people to harness that flood of power and to carry it into the world through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus---again, in word and in deed.  The doing takes an equal place alongside the teaching (as indicated by the opening of the book of Acts), for why would there be any need to teach if it was not for the purpose of doing that which embodies and furthers the reach of the kingdom of heaven on earth (rather than teaching strictly for the purpose of training people to refrain from doing that which is labeled as “sin”). 

In all of the doing and teaching, as the Resurrection is proclaimed and embraced and brought to bear in the world, there is no denial that evil is pervasive.  Indeed, Israel could not deny that they had to go to battle to gain victories over that which their God pointed to as the embodiment of evil in the land of His promise, so even though it is in a world that has been and is being re-shaped by the message and power of the crucifixion and the Resurrection, why should it be any different for renewed Israel? 

One is also able to read that “Joshua conquered the whole land, just as the Lord had promised” (11:23a).  So too did Jesus, with his conquering also occurring according to what He (and those that believe in Him) believed to be His God’s promise to Him.  The words that follow in Joshua point to the final outcome of Jesus’ conquering, in that the tribes of Israel were assigned the portions of the land for which they were responsible, which they were to rule and steward along with Joshua, with it being said that “the land was free of war” (11:23c).  It seems that Israel was charged with a responsibility to react and respond to evil, in full knowledge of their God’s promise of a victory already won. 

Because the Creator God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and because He does not change, in this day, the renewed Israel that is the covenant people via believing union with the Christ must do the same as their forbears in covenant, reacting and responding to evil in full knowledge of their God’s promise of a victory already won.  In both instances, the fact that there was a foregone conclusion in place did not remove the responsibility to work according to the Creator God’s plan that His covenant-bearers be His lights in the world, reflect His glory to and upon His creation, doing so according to His intentions, plans, and purposes.  That, it could be said, is the essence of the life of faith. 

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