I have just finished reading through the book of Joshua. I have the last chapter or two to finish. The aim of the study that I am following is to remind me that God keeps his promises.
The book begins with God promising to give Joshua “every place where you set your foot.” The whole land it Joshua’s for the taking. Forty years before that, Joshua had insisted, that regardless of giants and fortified cities, and being the size of grasshoppers, they could take the land because God was with them, fighting for them. Forty years on, Joshua, crossed the Jordan and began to place his feet in the Promised Land.
What follows on from there is one battle after another, with the occasional blip, where cities are set on fire and the inhabitants are put to the sword – men, women, children, cats and dogs, sheep, goats and camels. It makes for grim reading.
God’s instructions are clear and not to be diluted. There were times when the Israelites were allowed to take some plunder, but they were never allowed to let people live. God was concerned that those spared, allowed to live side by side with the Israelites, would eventually lure them away from worshipping God to worshipping idols – which is what happened in the end.
In my work place, I don’t really have the option of putting anyone to the sword. I work side by side with people who have very different ideas to me. Many of the people I work with don’t share my beliefs and are all too ready to pour scorn on faith. I don’t think it’s so much God they disapprove of but God’s people.
I’m very much out numbered. I know that the Bible promises that with God’s help I can rout a thousand and send tens of thousands running away, but that’s not always my experience. Too often I feel like the routed one, the one that would very much like to run away.
More often, though, I feel lured away. Their way of thinking and dealing with things slowly soaks in through my soul-skin and my spirit-skin. I find I am not listening to God’s inner voice, but behaving just like them. My thinking is small and petty. My words have a slightly destructive edge to them. Love is not unconditional. I cease to be salt or light.
I am glad that God tells me these things and that I listen, and I repent and I pray about it.
Our ladies Bible study group have just commenced a new study book. We are about to dive into the book of Revelation. The very first study suggested that we read through the whole book together, out loud, each of us reading in turn. We needed, the book said, to see the big picture before we began to tackle chapters and verses.
There are places in the Bible where it speaks about God’s word being read aloud in the presence of all the people. Ezra did it. He read the book of the law while people stood and listened.
I took us an hour and a half.
It was wonderful.
A bit of a mystery!
Familiar in places!
As we read through one chapter after another, my spirit was stirred. I am surprised that I didn’t leap up out of my seat at times, or fall down on my knees at other times. Maybe I should have done, but I was aware we were dealing with a time limit. There wasn’t time to stop and take a break and collect thoughts. It was a roller coaster of a read.
Through it all I felt, as I sat beneath God’s spoken word, I was being washed. The stuff of the world that had soaked into my soul and spirit were gently washed away. Sometime it wasn’t so gentle. Sometimes it was like standing under a torrent of water, stripping away all that wasn’t Jesus.
The word of God has been spoken over me – His transforming word:-
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11