Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Joshua's Battles (part 6 of 6)

As part of that fulfillment of those ancient promises made to Israel, it is said that “None of their enemies could resist them” (Joshua 21:44c).  They are reminded that this was not taking place because of what they had done, but because their God was faithful to His people, to His promises, and to His creation.  Just in case they or an observer needed one more reminder of that, and of the reason that their enemies fell before them, the author takes yet another opportunity to point to the promises, writing that “Not one of the Lord’s faithful promises to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; every one was realized” (21:45).  Not only would this have served as a reminder of all that had been accomplished on their behalf, as they would remember and review the events of the past, but it should also have served as a blessed warning of how things could go in the future. 

Israel had received promises from their God in regards to the covenant.  The Scriptural narrative shows that they had been presented with the ways of both blessing and cursing.  The blessings were as glorious as the curses were severe; and the same powerful, faithful Creator God that had made them secure in the land could become the powerful, faithful God that would bring about the curses that were outlined in both Leviticus and Deuteronomy if the covenant people failed to keep the covenant requirements that were designed to make them a light to the nations in reflection of the glory of their God.  The righteousness (covenant faithfulness) of their God could cut both ways, to their benefit or to their detriment, and this was not to be forgotten.  When times of destruction and exile (cursing) would come to Israel, His people could look back upon these words from Joshua and say “Not one of the Lord’s promises to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; every one was realized.” 

As the events that are recorded in the book of Joshua were said to be occurring, and as the Lord was believed to be causing Israel to be victorious and to prosper, one can imagine Joshua thinking something along the lines of the words that are to be found in the third Psalm.  As the believer lives and walks an unfolding life of faith, empowered to “do battle” with the forces of darkness and evil as an instrument of the Creator’s God’s good in the world, as did Israel in the land, the believer is well able to consider the same words.  Thus, the believers joins with Joshua and says, “I am not afraid of the multitude of people who attack me from all directions” (Psalm 3:6). 

Why?  Because Israel and renewed Israel has a God of promise to whom they call and say, “Rise up, Lord!  Deliver me, my God!” (3:7a).  Deliverance, of course would have been and should be understood as redemption from cursing and the ending of exile.  Of what will that deliverance consist and how would it be brought about?  What did Joshua see?  He trusted and could say, “Yes, You will strike all my enemies on the jaw; You will break the teeth of the wicked” (3:7b).  Israel was delivered from one enemy (Egypt) to another (people of the promised land), and their God continued to deliver, working through them for strikes and breaking.  This is what was said to have been the experience of the Creator God’s covenant people against their enemies. 

The covenant God of Israel effectively did this same thing, in Jesus, for His covenant people for all time.  When the greatest act of covenant faithfulness occurred and Jesus was raised up from the dead, the ancient enemy of the covenant God’s creation was defeated.  Consequently, redemption from exile from that good creation was made possible.  The Apostle Paul wrote that in the Resurrection of Jesus, that death lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55).  Figuratively, death was struck on the jaw.  Death had its teeth broken.  It’s bite and it’s sting were lost, and though death still intrudes upon the creation and a lengthy campaign of battles against the forces of death will be waged, such are waged in the sure confidence that the promise to the Creator God’s people of settlement within a promised land---a renewed creation (the kingdom of God made manifest on earth)---will be realized.  Not one promise will go unfulfilled, because Jesus is Lord.     

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