A devotional thought from Jonathan Leeman for “The Land”
Joshua 6:2: “The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Look, I have handed Jericho, its king, and its fighting men over to you.’”
Does God have the right to judge one people and save another? This is the challenge the Book of Joshua poses to our contemporary sensibilities. It recounts how the nation of Israel, after their exodus from Egypt, conquered the land of Canaan. Yet it also explains that behind Israel’s military activity is none other than God: “Look, I have handed Jericho, its king, and its fighting men over to you.” Jericho, like all the cities of Canaan, would be destroyed. Israel would gain its promised land. One people’s judgment was another people’s salvation.
But does God have this right?
The question shows how much we belittle both our sin and God’s holiness. Not only does God have the right to judge sin, God should judge it. He is a good God, and because He is good, He must justly judge. Sin cannot be swept under the carpet anymore than a courtroom judge can tell a convicted criminal to go free. God had to judge the people of Jericho, just as He must judge the nations of the world today (Ps. 96:10).
The real question is how can God show mercy to Israel? Or to us? “Look, I have handed Jericho, its king, and its fighting men over to you.” Israel did not deserve this victory. They too deserved judgment, as do we.
Do you believe that? If not, Christianity won’t make sense.
Consider what happened at the cross of Jesus Christ. One Man was handed over and judged in order to save a people. The difference was the Man handed over was perfectly righteous.
Does God have the right to judge one people and save another? If not, we have no hope. The good news is God has, and now sinners like the people of Jericho, Israel, and us have reason to rejoice.
Pause and Reflect
• Why does God have the right to judge a nation? Why does He have the right to judge you?
• Why should the verse above lead us to fear God? Why should it lead us to marvel at His grace?