As a Lenten practice during this season, clergy and leaders in the church from youth to elders will be sharing their devotions.
Scripture: Joshua 9-12
Key verses: (9:24-25) They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; so we were in great fear for our lives because of you, and did this thing. 25 And now we are in your hand: do as it seems good and right in your sight to do to us.” 26
Reflection: The book of Joshua is tough to read because it describes the many battles that take place against unfamiliar people and in foreign places. The author describes in great detail how Joshua’s armies killed all the people and overtook the lands from 31 Kings. Yikes! They did this because of the promise that God made to Abraham and to Moses, they were to be holy and to be blessed by God. God makes good on the promise of providing a nation for the descendants of Abraham at all costs, right? We read about total death to those who fought against Joshua’s armies. And yet, some of the tribes “totally destroyed” are mentioned later in the Bible as well. Did God turn back on God’s promise, or is God just a whole lot more creative than us? Perhaps the Israelites could only imagine their promised land if all the other inhabitants were totally destroyed. But the reality of Israel’s story is that they were in close contact with foreign tribes throughout their history, and we see tensions arise. The presence of the foreign tribes brings to light the second part of God’s promise, that Israel would be blessed with a land to be a blessing to all the nations of the world. God is the ultimate promise keeper, and because of that we are blessed.
Unlike God, we are human, so we make mistakes and sometimes we break our promises – an alcoholic or drug addict might promise never to drink or do drugs again, but they may falter; a man or woman promises to be faithful in marriage but sometimes they aren’t. It may be as simple as “I promise to be on time” – this one I’ve broken a lot.
During Lent, we often promise to give something up or offer our time or talent in service to others. Sometimes these commitments are simple, especially if they are confined to a few weeks. But outside of Lent, we make bigger promises, harder promises to keep, like loving our neighbors as ourselves, or not having any idols before God. When we struggle to keep our promises, may we rely on God, who knows the messiness of our lives, and is the ultimate creative promise keeper. For even as God promised Jesus as the savior of the world, all seemed lost when he hung upon the cross, and yet that promise came true that first Easter Sunday.
Prayer: Dear God, We are thankful for the certainty you bring to our lives and for the promises you keep. Help us to always follow your will and respond to Jesus’s call to love others as we love ourselves. In your name we pray. Amen.
Author: Allison Hinshaw, Elder class of 2022
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].