Well, if your timeline is all kinds of funky, you’re not alone. These first couple chapters of Joshua kind of leave me scratching my head. Like, was Joshua dead, or was Joshua alive? I’m going to read it as a recap by this author and move on because in the end, we scoot generations ahead and leave off at the Israelites needing some strong guidance. What is it about needing leaders? I’ve talked about utopian societies a little before … and how they never work because human groups just naturally migrate to choosing a leader, even if that leader is just a “leader understood.” It seems like that’s kind of what the author might be saying here. The Israelites had been following Moses and then Joshua, who they knew were in direct contact with God. But when Joshua died, no one else was appointed. It “seems” God just kind of left them to decide for themselves, which is a nice parental tactic that unfortunately backfired. If you have kids, maybe you can relate to the “teach then do” tactic. I feel like God kind of did that here with the Israelites. He showed them how to function properly – by solely relying on his leadership – and went through two entire generations, writing down instructions along the way, to get his points and methods across, and at the end of Joshua’s life, felt the Israelites should know enough and be mature enough to evolve in the way God wants them to. I don’t know. That’s my theory, for today anyway. Obviously, the Israelites didn’t heed the memos that Moses and Joshua left behind, and they didn’t pass the test that God laid out for them. Oh, but God doesn’t test people, you say? I hear this sometimes, and I’m always confused by it. “God doesn’t test people” or “God doesn’t tempt people.” I realize those two things can look very different, but also, I don’t understand how or why this even became a saying in Christian circles. Clearly, God tested the Israelites. He even says so in plain words in verse 22: “I did this to test Israel – to see whether or not they would follow the ways of the Lord as their ancestors did.” But the Israelites just weren’t quite ready. Just like my kids sometimes aren’t quite ready. I often give them instructions or teach them a task and then leave them on their own to see if they listened to my instructions. Sometimes, they totally bugger things up, just like I used to do when I was a teen and learning and growing … and messing up big time. I may have been tested, and I may test my kids, and God may test us, but in all cases, when we don’t get it right away, there is always a redo available, along with mercy and forgiveness and more lessons to be learned afterward. We kind of end this chapter on a harsh note, but we all know that God has not abandoned the Israelites or given up on them … and He never will.
Writing prompt: test
Have you ever been tested or tested someone else? Write about the experience, what you learned and if there was forgiveness and mercy involved.