Bible Readings for July 9th
In Joshua 11, we learn two important principles about Israel’s conquest of the land of Canaan as we read about the final warfare that Israel undertakes under the leadership of Joshua. First, Joshua gives us this insight into the interplay between Yahweh’s sovereignty and the Canaanites’ sin in Joshua 11:20: “For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses.”
Years before, Yahweh had explained to Abraham that Israel would not take possession of the Promised Land until the iniquity of the Amorites was “complete” (Gen. 15:16). Part of bringing that iniquity to completion involved hardening the hearts of these people so they went out in battle against Israel—just as Yahweh had hardened the heart of Pharaoh in Egypt. There is a mystery that is not fully explained here, but the Scriptures insist both that Yahweh is sovereign to harden the hearts of the wicked and that human beings are responsible for their sin. We dare not downplay one side or the other.
Second, Yahweh commands Joshua and the Israelites to devote the cities of Canaan to destruction (Josh. 11:10–15). The concept of “devote to destruction” comes from Deuteronomy 20:16–18, where Moses had instructed the people of Israel to “save alive nothing that breathes…that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the LORD your God.” Sadly, when Israel eventually fails to complete the conquest, the gods of the pagan peoples remaining in the land do become a snare for Israel (Judg. 2:3).
Taken together, these principles should create deep humility in our hearts. We should first remember that it is only by grace that we have been saved, and not by any righteousness of our own (Eph. 2:8–9). But also, we must acknowledge that apostasy from our gracious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a frighteningly simple path for us to take. We are not better than those around us who have fallen into sin, and it is deadly to imagine otherwise.
Our struggle in the new covenant is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of darkness (Eph. 6:12). Therefore, we must take every opportunity to devote to destruction any remaining vestiges of sin in our lives. Are you making provisions for the flesh (Rom. 13:14) that will eventually become a snare that will make shipwreck of your faith? By the Spirit of God, put to death the deeds of the flesh so that you may live (Rom. 8:13). Do not flirt with sin. Allow nothing of your sin to remain, or it will eventually rise up to destroy you.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.