Day 21: War and Peace

Today’s reading: Joshua 10-19, Psalm 31

“And the land had rest from war.”

So ends the eleventh chapter of Joshua today. In chapters 10-11, we witness quite an extraordinary military campaign, in which the Israelite army defeats all the great armies of the region.

Twice in these chapters, regional kings become afraid of what the presence of the Israelites will mean for their own territories and decide to join forces. They rally their troops to eliminate this new threat to their kingdoms. In both cases, things don’t turn out quite as they had planned. It appears that God really is with this upstart band of people that has come into the land to claim its inheritance. The annihilation is complete. Left with no viable rivals, the tribes of Israel then divide the spoils under the direction of Joshua son of Nun and Eleazar the priest.

The events in today’s reading can be unsettling in their depiction of ruthless destruction. Some might ask the question, “Couldn’t they have all found a way to get along?”  Thousands of years later, I often find myself still asking the same question as nations, ethnic groups, and factions go to war with one another across the globe. What we see back then, as now, is that war is often precipitated by some kind of fear.

How might things be different if people and nations were able to view one another as gift rather than threat? Perhaps it’s pie-in-the-sky thinking, but I can’t help but believe that these words would finally ring true for all nations: “And the land had rest from war.”

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6 Responses to Day 21: War and Peace

  1. Ken says:

    A lot of stories that are a bit concerting. After Judges comes Ruth, which through all these dark times is a beautiful love story.

    • runninrev says:

      It will, indeed, be nice to get to Ruth! One more day, everyone. I’ll be posting today’s blog in just a little while on todays reading from Judges 6-16.

  2. I will also check your suggested readings, Steve. Me too, I have a hard time with this part. I always say that I believe in the God of Peace, and I just realized that a part of me is always trying to “hide” or ignore sections of the Bible that do not conform to “my” idea of God. The story of the Israelites coming to their promised land as invaders and conquerors in the name of the Lord is one of those passages that I just shrug off as “those Old Testament stories.” Thanks for your suggestions, I will be exploring the topic further instead of avoiding it.

  3. Sue W-O says:

    All the stories of the war and death are truly disturbing…even more so because God is the one behind it all. I am having a very hard time with this.

    • FjP says:

      My wife and I have struggled with that as well and discuss it often. Not sure what to make of it.

    • runninrev says:

      Let me suggest to you both that you go back and read the blog entry for Day 6. This may help put the disturbing parts of the storyline into a context. Also, one Old Testament scholar’s voice that has been helpful to me is Gerhard Von Rad (you can google him–his writing is challenging, but very good). A basic premise of his work is that the pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) should be read primarily as the confessions of a community of faith, not as history or any other genre of literature. Hope this helps.

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