In the book of Joshua God helps Israel capture towns and cities in Canaan. Sometimes with miracles: Jericho where the walls collapse; Gibeon where hailstones crush their enemies and the sun stands still so that the Israelites can win. But God also does not help them when they do not keep their agreement to worship only Him. In ch 7 v 1 – 12 it was just 1 person who had not honoured God and the whole army was defeated at Ai.
This sounds harsh to our ears and minds that are more used to hearing a ‘tolerance’ approach. My mind tends to jump to ‘Really? For one person? How is that showing love?’ Perhaps what I’ve misunderstood is that small word: love.
In many ways this word has been hijacked by our society and culture. We don’t have enough words to cover all its different meanings. We ‘love’ Starbucks/shoes/cake/sunshine. We love our family/friends/church/twitter/facebook. We love our husband/wife/children/Mum/Dad/siblings. We love God/Jesus/Holy Spirit; God (all of God) loves us, before we ever loved him. There’s rather an extensive range of ‘love’ right there! And of course, we only have our own human experiences of love to go on. Does God love me like my husband does? Do I love God the way I love my Mum and Dad? Hopefully what I know to be true about God inspires something more than the sensation I express over my coffee and slice of cake!
I found this on Facebook today:
Love is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. The All in all. Love created all things, and in love all things hold together. Never underestimate the power of love, for it’s the greatest power in all of creation. God is love.
This describes something more than all of my experiences; love has power, power to create and sustain, love is there at the beginning and will be there at the end. God’s love is so big, so powerful, so all-encompassing that we, with our human brains (amazing though these are!), can only really understand a tiny amount.
We’ve been talking about God’s love quite a lot in this series on books of the Bible so far. We have seen God’s love at work in the most unlikely of biblical stories and I think this is another one. The book of Joshua is, on the face of it, pretty bloodthirsty! I remember reading it along with the rest of my Life Group in the month that I had my cancer diagnosis and operation. I said I wasn’t sure that these stories of armies going out to fight and being conquerors or defeated had much to say about my current situation. With great patience and forbearing my lovely Life Group family pointed out ‘Be strong and very courageous’ and helped me find God’s unchanging, powerful, authentic love in Joshua’s story.
Perhaps, as we read Joshua this month, we can do so through a lens of love: God’s love.