Engage the tension
We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.
- Joshua 2:10
One of the major tensions we experience when we read Joshua’s story is how much God-sanctioned violence fills the narrative. The Israelites completely destroy Sihon and Og. In the next several chapters they will march through the land fighting battles, killing soldiers, civilians and even animals.
How could the God of love and reconciliation that we see in Jesus possibly be the same God who sanctioned this violence?
A short devotional post is not a place for in-depth apologetics. At the bottom of the post we share resource links if you want to explore this question in more detail.
Here, however, we wanted to share a pastoral reflection that emerges from this text. The same God who sanctioned the violence against Sihon and Og also sanctioned the violence against himself when he died on the cross.
Jesus pulled the Jewish religious establishment and the Roman war machine into a pitched battle with himself. He caught the attention of sin, death and the devil and allowed them to catch him. He knew what he was walking into and he did it anyways.
God is truly a God of love and reconciliation. But we live in a world that in mysteriously complex and filled with violence. God engages with this world and with us. He grapples this the violence, suffers from it, and ultimately ends it. He does this to rescue us and welcome us into his family. We see his love for us on display in his death for us.
Engaging God directly is the best way to engage the tension we feel when we’re confused by God’s action or inaction. We can pray to him for guidance. We can search the scriptures. We can share our questions with our community. We can do all of this because God loves us and has given himself for us.