We’re working our way through a study of the life of Joshua. So far we’ve seen him as a servant leader under Moses in the first part, and then as a brand new leader, standing firm in faith at the walls of Jericho in the second. In this third part, we’ll look at some confusing Bible passages to find a new and terrifying role as Joshua the warrior comes to the forefront.
God had taken more than 40 years to prepare him for a job only one person so far in history has done: lead the people of Israel into the promised land to conquer it. I often think this massive task is seemingly forgotten (or at least overshadowed by other stories), but it was a huge job! As Joshua emerged from the shadows, executing justice in obedience to God, we find he was a beast! After so many years as a quiet observer, Joshua steps up with an unexpected amalgam of character qualities, all relevant to those of us working to heal from the wounds of sexual addiction. But first, here are the other parts of the series:
- Part One – Joshua as a Servant Leader (the first 60ish years of his life)
- Part Two – Joshua at the Walls of Jericho
- Part Three – Joshua the Warrior (Conquering the Promised Land)
- Part Four – Joshua Leaving a Legacy of Faith
Confusing Bible Passages
Unfortunately, this part of the story turns many people off to Joshua, the Old Testament, and sometimes even God Himself. From the stoic student of God we’ve come to know emerges a savage killer. It can be difficult to reconcile the loving God of grace we find in the Gospels with the One who (through His servant Joshua) executes brutal justice upon the Godless nations who inhabited the Promised Land.
That’s why the Bible isn’t just the Gospels or the New Testament. Those parts of the Cannon alone don’t give us a complete picture of our Lord. While parts of Joshua are among some of the more confusing Bible passages, they serve to show us aspects of our Lord’s character we may miss if we stick to the comfortable pats of Scripture.
Our great and perfect God cannot stand sin, and there is nothing that arouses His anger like rejection, idolatry, and debauchery. The Canaanites had spent hundreds of years moving further and further away from God and His ways. They bowed down in worship before a multitude of pagan gods, but never the One True God.
They fashioned idols and alters and Asherah poles so they could engage in twisted, ritualistic ceremonies. They glorified adultery, incest, homosexuality, and bestiality; including many of these practices in their worship. They even sacrificed their own children upon the alters of their gods. So embedded into their culture were these dark and grotesque practices that God saw fit to annihilate them completely.
“When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are about to enter and occupy, He will clear away many nations ahead of you…When the Lord your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaties with them and show them no mercy…
This is what you must do. You must break down their pagan alters and shatter their sacred pillars. Cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols. For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure…
Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands. But He does not hesitate to punish and destroy those who reject Him.” Deuteronomy 7:1-10
Executing Justice in Obedience to God
Once the walls of Jericho fell, Joshua the warrior and the Army of Israel began the execution of the Lord’s judgement on those people. At the Lords command, they left nothing alive. Joshua 6:21 says of the city of Jericho that, “they completely destroyed everything in it with their swords – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys.”
And it didn’t stop there. In chapters 8-11, Joshua and the Israelite army sweep through the land of Canaan and wipe out great numbers of Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, and Canaanites.
At one point we even see Joshua bring five kings out from the cave where they’re hiding and command some of his soldiers to lay them on the ground and stand with their boots on their throats.
“Don’t be afraid or discouraged,” Joshua told his men. “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is going to do this to all of your enemies.” Then Joshua killed each of the five kings and impaled them on five sharpened poles, where they hung until evening.” Joshua 10:25-26
Joshua slaughtered all the other kings and their people, completely destroying them, just as Moses, the servant of the Lord, had commanded… As the Lord had commanded Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua. And Joshua did as he was told, carefully obeying all the commands that the Lord had given Moses.” Joshua 11:12 & 15
Joshua the Warrior
I have such a hard time picturing this ruthless Joshua as the same contemplative man who stayed behind in the Tent of Meeting after God spoke to Moses! Maybe this vicious warrior is less appealing to many, but not me! I look at this aspect of his character with the same sense of awe as I did all the rest… especially because it is combined with all the rest!
I deeply desire to have that same sense of fiery passion when it comes to justice and the ways of God. It reminds me of Jesus in the temple, brandishing his whip and turning tables!
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be like so many we see today, standing on their soapboxes and making a lot of noise in the name of “justice,” all the while tearing down brothers and sisters in Christ whose passions and callings land in a different area than their own. No, I want to stay as far away from that as I possibly can! It doesn’t reflect my Lord.
What I do want is to be filled with the same ferocious intolerance for the things that God Himself hates as Joshua the warrior! I want to be ready and willing to go after those things (in my own life especially) with the same bold and unrestrained brutality Joshua did. I believe this looks a lot different in the New Testament Era than it did then, but whatever it looks like, I want it! I want my heart to beat in sync with the heart of my Lord – just like Joshua!
Be Strong and Courageous like Joshua the Warrior
Friends, I want to say it again. Our Lord has no tolerance for things like rejection, idolatry, and debauchery. These things arouse His glorious anger. He commands His people to separate themselves from such things!
Let us make no mistake, if these things exist in our own lives, they will be met with His fiery justice! If they exist in the lives of the people around us, and we are refusing to separate ourselves, some of the consequences of their rebellion are likely going to fall on us as well!
We are called to be strong and courageous. Just like Joshua was. It takes a great deal of strength and courage to take a stand in a world that does not honor God, but God has made some big audacious promises if we’ll simply step out in faith and obey.
- We won’t have to do it alone, He’ll be with us.
- He will make a way before us, and we’ll simply have to follow the path He lays.
- He will LAVISH His unfailing love on those who obey His commands!
May we be found among the faithful!