March 24 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.” ~Joshua 11:23

As the Lord’s wars are recounted in today’s reading, one needs a map handy to understand all the comings and goings of Joshua and the people. It is busy work carrying out God’s mission to drive wickedness from the land. Deviant practices like sexual perversion, child abuse (and sacrifice), cold-blooded murder, and unrestrained warmongering are being eradicated from God’s land. As an act of judgment, God hardens the hearts of these people so that Israel doesn’t even need to go looking for a fight (Josh. 11:20). Wicked nations come looking for them. Sometimes hardness of heart is an act of judgment on people that influences them to do destructive things, as was the case for Pharaoh. (What a frightening notion!)

God’s directives and the brutal campaign He drives forward seem harsh. This is not a picture of God that Christians relish. But maybe we need to rethink our understanding of Him. Yes, He is compassionate, but He is also just. Therefore, He punishes unrestrained wickedness. When it’s called for, He takes care of business. Our view of Jesus may need to be revised too. In the gospels, Jesus sometimes gets angry over the stubborn ways of humanity. And sometimes He is so direct with His audience that they want to kill Him for telling it like it is (Luke 4:14-29).

God is not dispassionate about this world He created. He is deeply affected by the things that He sees, the abuse of children, the violation of marriage covenants, the saber rattling and warmongering among nations, and the lying, stealing, and cheating that people perpetrate against each other. All of it bothers Him, and it should bother us too. The wrongs and wickedness we see should bother us enough that we seek ways to purge these things from our own lives. They should bother us enough to fearlessly work to restore our “land”, our churches, homes, and communities, to the beautiful place it is meant to be.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.