Message to Joshua has meaning in modern times
by Donald Conkey
February 28, 2013 12:00 AM | 1223 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Recently the Tribune carried a column by a well-known area evangelist, the Rev. Nelson Price, titled “Appetite for Bread and Circuses” on its editorial page.

His column showed clearly the parallel between ancient Rome’s self-destruction and modern America’s trek down that same road of self-destruction — but at a much more rapid pace.

But for me Price’s column did more than remind me of the “Rise and Fall” of the Roman Empire and how America is following the same pathway to self-destruction. It reminded me of the Old Testament Book of Joshua and of how God gets involved in the lives of a people or nations who ignore His commandments, as had the Canaanites of Joshua’s day.

God ordered Joshua to destroy seven Canaanite nations, and every living thing in those nations.

How, many will ask, does Joshua’s story relate to America today? I have read and pondered the words of Joshua many times. And each time I read Joshua I would ask the same question, how could God, my God of love, mercy and justice, order Joshua to go into Canaan and destroy every living thing?

This order to Joshua conflicted with my vision of a just and loving God until I read in Isaiah 55:8-9 these words “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Words that America would do well to remember today.

Then, I thought, there must have been a reason for this command to Joshua to go into Canaan and destroy seven nations, and so I set out to find that answer. I read Joshua many times attempting to find the answer in that book — but to no avail.

Finally I found a believable answer, at least to me, in the writings of Moses in Deuteronomy, chapters seven to nine. The order to destroy seven nations in Canaan is found in chapter seven and where they are also told that they, Israel (all 12 tribes) had a mission and were a chosen people (to establish freedom in the world); in chapter eight Moses rehearses all the Israelites went through after being freed from Egyptian slavery and suffering through 40 years of desert living; in 9:4 we learn God’s reason for cleansing Canaan — it was the wickedness of those seven nations, not because of the Israelites’ righteousness who He said were a “stiffnecked people.”

Price’s parallel becomes clearer when we understand that ancient Israel and modern America were both raised up by people led by God, and then only in answer to pleading prayer and only after the people involved had suffered mightily under tyrannical rule, the Israelites for 400 years under the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Pilgrims under despotic rulers in Europe. The Israelites prayed to Jehovah, the Pilgrims to Jesus Christ.

In both cases leaders were raised up by God to lead them to a location where they could worship the God of their choice — Moses for the Israelites to the wilderness of the Sinai desert, the Pilgrims to the wilderness of North America where they found a land where they could worship their God according to their own conscience, in a land populated by many wandering natives living off the land and worshipping, as did the ancient Greeks, “unknown gods,” not the living God of the Bible.

The parallel continues as God gives Moses “the perfect laws of liberty” (James 1:25) and to America’s Founding Fathers two foundational rocks, “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” from which flowed Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence and from the Founders America’s Constitution, a beacon of liberty as surely as were the Ten Commandments and 59 statutes for governance given to Moses anciently.

Today, 225 years since America’s foundational rocks were created, America is much like Israel was anciently. Paraphrasing Judges 2:10-12 we read: “after America’s founders died there arose another generation which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for America.

“And America did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of a land of despotism, and followed other gods, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger,” “and every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

Take heed America, America may become another Canaan for God to cleanse.

Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.
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