Joshua: God is Holy – Author – Wade Thomas
The Bible is filled with descriptions and declarations of God’s wrath. His love is a centerpiece of His character and His actions in history, but that love is placed in a setting of His holiness, which means His utter goodness and righteousness and complete otherness in relation to sin and evil. The Bible spends gallons of ink describing how clean and pure and good God is, and as such how He detests murder, idolatry, greed, sexual immorality, lying, hatred of neighbor, and all other acts of wickedness. God’s love is not a simple well wishing or a grandfatherly smile from above as He pats the whole world without distinction on the head. God’s love is a precious diamond in the setting of His holy heart, and we must never try to remove it stand it on its own, away from His holiness and His wrath.
In the book of Joshua, God sends His people into Canaan having commanded that they destroy the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 7:1-5). He will not have these Canaanites infect His people (and presumably the wider world) with their idol worship, their child sacrifice, their gross sexual immorality. He has given the people in Canaan hundreds of years to repent, and they have stayed, intransigent, on the path that leads to destruction. God therefore tells His people that their eyes must not pity the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 7:16), that they must utterly devote them to destruction. He even designates a Hebrew man named Achan and his family for execution because of Achan’s deceitful stealing and hiding of some of the Canaanite goods that God had commanded His people to set aside (Joshua 7:10-26). The book of Joshua is threaded through and through with the unshakable truth that God will not be mocked in His love of good and His hatred of evil. Wickedness will have no place in His Kingdom. He will cast it out.
Which is where the Cross of Jesus Christ comes in.
In Jesus Christ, God Himself as the Son was utterly cast out and despised, suffering outside the camp of Israel as though He were a thief (Hebrews 10:11-15). He was destroyed because of our wickedness. He was crushed because of our ugly and despicable deeds. Jesus bore the penalty we deserve. (Isaiah 53:4-6.)
Every last one of us deserves what happened to the Canaanites. We are born liars, scoffers, sexual sinners, thieves, and recklessly rebellious to our Maker. But in His unimaginable love, God the Son came to suffer our fate. He placed Himself on the altar to bear God’s wrath in our place. Jesus Christ was cast out so that we could brought in. The book of Joshua points us to the truth that God will cast out the wicked, and so it shows us the shocking reality that God cast out His own beloved Son so that we could be brought close to Him.
And a second truth about Christ that the book of Joshua can point us to is this: Jesus, the greater Joshua, will Himself drive evil out of the promised land. Joshua was not totally successful in banishing all Canaanite wickedness from Israel, but someday, all rape and murder and pride and greed and malice will be utterly driven out of God’s Kingdom. He will purge sin from His people, having cleansed them with His own blood, and He will throw all who refuse to trust in Him into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. There will be no suffering in God’s country, anymore. There will be no idolatry, no rebellion, no sin of any kind in the midst of the new Heavens and new Earth. Jesus Christ will have utterly driven all evil from His presence.
Joshua brought the wrath of God to bear on the great sin in Canaan, and Joshua sought to obey God in scattering unrepentant sinners from God’s homeland. But Joshua was ultimately a mere man, like us. Someday a greater Joshua will return, with the sound of trumpets and the shout of joy from His people. Every eye will see Him, and every tongue will confess, many bitterly but some with great delight, that He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. And Jesus will be shown to be the Lamb who was willingly slain to take every last drop of God’s good and fair anger against His people for their sins, and He will push all wickedness beyond the borders of His people’s new home.
And all of us who love His appearing will worship at the feet of the holy and loving God who saves bad people for His own glory.