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I’ll be honest. I’ve been stewing on this post for days. I wish I could tell you that what stood out most was Joshua and his men defeating all of their enemies and being victorious. I wish my thoughts were that encouraging. I wish that I didn’t read these chapters and cringe at the bloodshed within the pages, at the thought of countless men, women, and children dying. But that’s what stood out. That’s what seems to be imprinted on my memory– a very bleak picture of bloodshed and death.
And then comes the question that I have to admit to asking…why Lord? Why did they ALL have to die?
It’s the same question that I remember facing in college. I was working on my Master’s Degree, and I had a very, well, difficult professor. He deemed himself the “Fallen Priest” because he not only had a double doctorate in literature/history but also had a Master’s Degree in seminary, one that he obtained in his pursuit to prove the Bible wrong. Each time we had class, he would make sure to incorporate some remark, some way to scoff at Christians. One day, I had enough and said something back to him. He proceeded to tear me to shreds in front of the class and leave me speechless, not because I was at a loss for words, but because it became clear very quickly that his seminary education as an atheist proved to be more than I could compete with. I went home crying because I couldn’t believe that an atheist knew more about the Bible than me. But God allows everything for a reason, and amidst my tears of frustration, the Lord created in me a passion to immerse myself in His Word, a pursuit that will take the rest of my life.
So back to the question. It’s an honest one, especially in our society where everyone wins, everyone gets a trophy, and everyone is accepted no matter what. So before I dive into this, I want to be clear: I am NOT an ear tickler. This is not one of those warm, fuzzy-feeling kind of posts, so if that’s what you’re looking for, I’d suggest that you stop reading now.
I’ll start with this: We are NOT all God’s children. There, I said it. I can feel your eyeballs bulging out of your head. We hear that statement so often, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. The truth is that prior to salvation, we are enemies of God. Yep, that’s right. Enemies.
- Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Psalms 51:5
- and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest… Ephesians 2:3
- For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:10
- And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— Colossians 1:21-22
There we have it. NOT all God’s children…God’s enemies. In fact, Romans 8:8 tells us that “those who are in the flesh CANNOT please God.”
Tough words, I know. But the story doesn’t end there. God has given us free will; He has sent us His Son; and He offers salvation to ALL who believe (Romans 1:16).
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
In this world we have two types of people: enemies of God and children of God. We are not entitled to the Kingdom of God simply because He created us. The absolute ONLY way that we can become a child of God is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6, Galatians 3:26).
So now let’s apply this concept to Joshua’s conquest. Joshua and his people served the One True God. None of the other people groups did.
But they were massacred! God didn’t even give them a chance! (You know the thought crossed your mind, too.)
Here is where we let Scripture speak for Scripture. Is God good? Yes. Is He sovereign? Yes. Is His desire to save the world? Yes. Would He just randomly decide to kill “innocent” people? NO.
- Let’s take Sodom and Gomorrah for example. Their sin was so great that the Lord chose to completely destroy the cities. One could argue the same about the men, women, and children being destroyed there. Abraham, terrified that the angels were going to destroy the cities, seemed to have the same question. He asks the angels whether or not they will destroy the cities if there are any righteous people in them. They promise to not destroy the cities if they can even find just TEN righteous people. But they couldn’t. So Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed. (Genesis 18)
- Rahab likewise was from the town of Jericho, yet she wasn’t destroyed. Her treason is not what saved her life. Her belief and admission that the Israelites served the true God did, and it saved her family, too.
So why were those towns destroyed? Because there was not one single person who would have chosen God, and in His sovereignty, He knew that. He chose to destroy them because of their unbelief and also to fulfill his promise of giving the Israelites the Promised Land.
In the end, God’s people inherited a kingdom, and the enemies of God burned. The same holds true for us today. Joshua’s conquest is a picture of hope and a picture of destruction, but either way, it’s not a picture that we can ignore. You see, the same principle applies for all of us: we will either choose Christ and have eternal life, or we will remain an enemy of God and sentence ourselves to destruction. The walls of our lives will most certainly come down one day, but we get to make the choice of which side of the wall we will be on when it happens.