The nation of Israel conquers and then settles the Promised Land in the last few chapters of Joshua. Not every pagan has left the land (like the Hivites of Gibeon). Some continue to dwell in the land. They remain.
And that reminds me of Paul’s discussion of the flesh and the spirit in Romans 7. Despite the fact that we have been given new natures, sin still “dwells” in us because our flesh remains. The flesh with its inability to do anything but sin has not been entirely killed off. As long as we live, we must endure the struggle between our spirit that now owns us (and IS us) and the sinful flesh that remains.
I love how the Old Testament is a physical metaphor of so many New Testament truths, like this one.
We must continue battling the sin in our “members,” our flesh, just as Israel faced being drawn away from God by the sin of the pagans who still dwelt in the land.
Joshua (in chapter 23) gives Israel some instruction about how to deal with those pagans who remained – instructions that can help us as we deal with the sin that remains:
- Trust that God Himself will eventually drive out the nations from the Land (vs. 5) – and He will eventually drive out all of my sin (not completely until I see Him face to face, but He’ll do it).
- Be strong and careful to obey God’s laws (vs. 6). I need to do the same – and it’s interesting that it takes God’s strength to do so. How often I fail to seek His help when I find it difficult to obey consistently (like being kinder to family members…).
- Don’t associate with the nations (vs. 7). I am SURE I associate all too frequently with the sins my flesh is drawn to.
- Don’t serve their gods (vs. 7). I am also SURE that I let myself fly too close to the flame – without thought following the ways of the world, getting sucked into “acceptable” and popular idolatries every day.
- Instead, hold fast to the Lord (vs. 8). I KNOW I don’t hold fast enough. I KNOW I don’t beg God to rip those idols out of my hands and help me cling to Him. After all, some fleshly practices seem so innocent.
- Be careful to love the Lord (vs 11). That’s an interesting way to put it. This suggests that I must be thoughtful as I work at loving and pleasing God.
- Don’t ally yourselves with those pagans left in the land. They’ll turn on you and enslave you. (vs. 12-13). How often do I rely on fleshly ways of dealing with life, thinking that this or that solution to a problem will work, when, in the end, it enslaves?
- Especially don’t marry the pagans! God won’t drive them out if you do. (vs.12, 13) How often do I get too close to the ways of the world – in my books, movies, thoughts, what I find important and meaningful?
- Don’t violate the covenant you have with God, or you’ll be destroyed from the Land (vs. 16). Good thing God took care of my propensity to be a covenant-breaker on the cross. In His love, God not only keeps His end of the covenant, but my part, too – through Christ’s righteousness.
This is hard! No wonder Israel continually turned to pagan practices and idolatries. Lord, help!
Today’s Readings: Joshua 23:1-24:33, Psalm 47:1-9, Proverbs 14:14, Luke 13:22-35. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).