I have been worried at gods harsh lesson to the inhabitants of the promised land in the destruction of Jericho.
But he is fair. Just as harsh on the chosen ones’ need for purity. Being chosen by God is a two edged sword it seems.
The Israelites suffer a defeat. I was struck at how personally Joshua takes it. 36 men lost out of tens of thousands, and he is saying to God “why did you even bring us here?” – for him the loss makes him question God and whether the whole project is useless.
It’s tempting to think life is cheap in those hard ancient days, but as the military commander, he cares deeply for each one.
The defeat was because God left them. They had been told that to plunder Jericho would curse them. Someone did. How very very different this war is from any other. There could be no gain, no triumphalism in the defeat of Jericho.
The people are given an evening to know the reason for the defeat and for the guilty party to come forward. Zero tolerance for disobedience to this law, but as with Jericho, the judgement is signalled, there is a chance to repent.
No one does, and in an excruciating process of elimination the guilty party is singled out and he and his family destroyed. Gulp. To be god’s chosen.
But he had on his head doing an act that he was told would bring a curse, the defeat that took 36 of his countrymen, taking gold and silver that was explicitly said to belong to God, and had had a chance to come forward. How little did he believe any of it?
And how seriously to this very day does it underline the holiness of God.
With all we know, we are 10, 100, 1000 times as worthy of judgement as that guy and his family or the people of Jericho. How amazing is the grace by which we have confidence in God’s love. While we were yet sinners, he died for us.
We will all face death, with nothing but whatever revelation we have had of gods mercy, and our response to it, to guide us.
Open my heart to you father. Give me courage to take opportunities to live for you.