The Bible Experiment Joshua
Last year I did a whole series of posts on the best books of the month. I had a theory that a chain of posts might actually create a synergistic reading effect and increase SEO, and also help focus my posts. Oh wow was I wrong. At the end of that year the readership was so blooming bad I quit doing the reviews, (but not before one of the authors I reviewed that month gave me the awww “buck up wally” speech. It was awesome.) and decided that I would pick an even less interesting topic and commit until I had finished the entirety of the series. And that was to read every book of the Bible and to write at least 1000 words about each book.
An Atheist had started doing pretty much the same thing and it was actually a pretty interesting read. And I figured, heck, if an Atheist can do it, why can’t I? Shouldn’t I be able to? And even so, I’ve already derailed from my commitment of completing all 66 books. Its been months since I last posted a book, but thanks to Benjamin who emailed me and called me out for stopping, I’m back on the hunt again. Hopefully I’ll get back to the weekly regimen of posting and we’ll get some momentum going again.
So we are on book six of this endeavor – Joshua. If you are that rare exception that would like to read my past entries in this series you can read them here.
When we were last in the Bible we had a GREAT time with Deuteronomy (yes, that was sarcasm) and the listing of the rules, the rituals and the laws. We also flashed back to the first four books of the Bible and remembered what they were all about because one cannot get enough Pentateuch. You just can’t. Regardless, as we head into Joshua, Moses is dead and the leadership of the Israelites have been handed off to Joshua fully. Here’s how it opens:
“Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.”
Pretty clear opening and direction for the book. Moses dead? Check. Joshua is the leader? Check. Take the land? Yeah, maybe, we’ll see how this goes. But basically that is the point of the entire book – taking the promise land, and then dividing it up amongst the tribes.
But it all doesn’t go entirely to plan.
I mean, these are the Israelites after all. And they love to hear the plan, and then improvise on the plan, do it their own way. Which I can relate to quite a bit. We do love to give the Jews a hard time about how awful they were at listening to God. We love to let them know just what screw ups they are. But when was the last time your life was chronicled out on the pages of the most popular work of literature in the History of the human race?
Reminds me of a fantastic book that is making the rounds in the literary circles entitled My Struggle by the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard. Knausgaard has done something that is truly rare – almost Biblical in nature. He has basically written out the details of his life so completely and so thoroughly that I can’t think of another book like it. My Struggle is a six volume, 3600 pages of whopping massiveness. This book set delves into Karl’s relationship with his father. His father’s alcoholism. And ultimately his father’s death. But the book is so banal at times it is mind numbing. And yet it is so honest, so thoroughly honest as to be mind blowing. So much so, Knausgaard definitely is dealing with strained familial relationships as a result. This is what it would be like to have an Old Testament book written about you.
How well would you hold up under that kind of scrutiny? Me? Not well.
I can understand the desire to be honest like that. I have done that with a group of guys that I’ve trusted. But to just sit here and type out the fallacies of my mind? Nah, no thanks. I mean, feel free to email me, even if I don’t know you… and I’ll tell you my failings. But I’m not going to post them for the world to see without filter.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome passages for the good old flannel graph. (You do know what a flannel graph is, no? NO? Hahah. It is a Sunday School tool for telling stories. Basically it is a board upon which flannel with printed scenery is put up. Then, you take the characters you are telling the story about, and place them on the board and move them around as you tell the story. Flannelgraphs are so awesome (in a retro-awful sort of a way)… Anyway, one of the greatest stories of the entire Bible comes in Joshua 2. 40 years earlier Joshua and eleven other spies headed in and checked out the land. When they came back ten of the spies said, holy crap… the land is filled with giants! Joshua and one other spy were like, dude… do you see these grapes? They are enormous. Let’s go. But it wouldn’t be, the people were too afraid. And this time, we get word that the people of Jericho have been living in fear of the Israelites for years. Absolutely out of their minds.
We get this insight when Joshua sends in two spies. They are given shelter by “Rahab the Harlot”. So Rahab was a prostitute, right? And she runs into these two spies and finds out they are with the Hebrews that are camping not too far away. After the people pursuing Joshua are gone she says to them, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.” So Joshua promised to keep her and her family safe. The prostitute. We are clear on this right? That she was paid for sex with the men of Jericho? I want this to get right up in your face. SHE WAS A WOMAN OF THE NIGHT! Yes? What happened to her after the victory, and the walls falling down, and all that? Let’s see, the New Testament opens right out of the gate talking about her…
Matthew 1:1-5 “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse…”
So let’s go heavy and put two and two together. Rahab went from prostitute, harlot, sex trade worker… call it what you will, to being the wife of Salmon of the Hebrews. Not only did she marry a Jew, but they had a child together by the name of Boaz. Rahab went from working a red light to the Great, Great, Great, Great grandmother of King David. And obviously the Christ is of the line of David, right? So Rahab was Jesus’ great, great, great, great, great, great… etc etc et al. Grandmother of God.
Now, I don’t know about you, (and I know I’ve made this point before, but it bears repeating), but if I were crafting my own religion out of thin air, I wouldn’t include prostitutes in the lineage of my god. Nope. And if it happened, I wouldn’t go out of my way to call it out. Right? Do you see what happens up there? Some Guy is father of some Guy, is father of some GUY, who is the father of ANOTHER GUY, but this guy right here? He was fathered via Salmon BY RAHAB! The could have slid right by that without mentioning it and we would be none the wiser. Wouldn’t you bury your embarrassing bits if you were writing this history out?
To be honest, I am Rahab. I am that red light worker. I have prostituted myself out to other foreign gods… money, success, sex, distraction, name it, I’ve done it. I am no better than Rahab. And I would be hard pressed to point you to the level of faith that she had to stick her neck out for two random guys that she knew was the enemy. Talk about faith. And yet, I too have been grafted into the line of Jesse, the line of David… I too have been freed from the stain and the punishment of sin. Fairly amazing really.
Then from Jericho on out, it is all about the conquest of the land that was promised to Moses. After winning by reliance on God and commitment to His promises Joshua gets all kinds of cocky. Instead of attacking AI by relying on God they sent a couple hundred men and got their butts completely kicked. They find sin in the camp, someone was sitting on a horde of gold (by sitting, I literally mean, sitting on it) and then once they sorted that mess out Joshua sent 30 some odd thousand armed men to attack the camp. He also did an end around on the city and performed all kinds of amazing military maneuvers in order to win.
Personally, I learned a number of lessons through this story of AI. The first was definitely that when God says don’t go do that thing, sitting on it in your tent isn’t going to help. You really aren’t that clever to hide your sin from God. It also keeps you from being close to the purpose and creator of all things. Which basically guarantees failures, even for the things that God has called you to do.
To finish up the book, basically they take 32 kings and lands. They divide up the land among the tribes. The distant tribes return to the land. And it ends with Joshua declaring he’s old, and near
Problems with the Book of Joshua
And that is what we see with the beginning of Joshua. Joshua is obviously a bit nervous about the whole thing because God instructs him several times to be courageous. To be strong.
Joshua 1:5 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
And I’ll admit that these are two of the most over used scriptures out of the book of Joshua. People use them for anything and everything. Buying a car? Be strong and courageous. Investing in a few hundred Google stock? Be strong and courageous. Now, if you are starting up a soup kitchen to help inner-city folks? Be strong and courageous. Are you adopting a couple kids? Yeah, be strong and courageous. That makes sense. But in your search for a parking spot at the front of the mall parking lot? No. Just let that go.
That isn’t a problem with the book of Joshua though, that’s a problem that I have with modern individuals misapplying said scripture for their own purposes. People have been misapplying scripture for time immemorial, and worse misapplications have occurred… like for example entire new religions taking and fullon misappropriating scriptures to do whatever they please with. But that is a different digression for another day.
Basically I dig Joshua as a book. From a narrative standpoint it is more coherent and cohesive than say Deuteronomy. But that isn’t saying too much. Joshua and the recently freed people from Egypt finally arrive at the land that God has promised them. I have learned that even I can be grafted into the lineage of God via grace and his redemption, as Rahab was. And that is a pretty amazing discovery to fully understand.