Monday 06 September 2021

Bible Book:

Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. (v. 1)

Joshua 24:1-8 Monday 6 September 2021

Psalm 62


Joshua is not an easy book to read; it tells the story of how the people of Israel conquered the Promised Land and is full of battles and violence. What is more it claims that God fought for the Israelites and therefore against those who had originally lived there. At times the actions of the Israelites seem to amount to genocide.

If we take the Old Testament as a whole, we could say that we have reached a midway point here. At the beginning of the Old Testament, in early Genesis, God promises the land to the Israelites. In the passage we read today the people have occupied the land – but the story will go on to tell how the Israelites also were invaded (and slaughtered) and exiled and how they eventually return to the land once more. Indeed, scholars often argue that much of the Old Testament was written down when the Israelites themselves had been victims of invasion.

 So in this passage today, Joshua gathers the people of Israel at Shechem, which is a significant place. Shechem first appears in Bible in Genesis 12:6-8, just after God had called Abram and Sarai (later called Abraham and Sarah). Abram and Sarai left their home country at God’s command and when they come to the land of Canaan, they go to Shechem and to the oak of Moreh, where Abram first builds an altar and hears the promise that God will give the land to his offspring. There is a sense here of the people being gathered back to where their story first began but also of being asked to contemplate how far they have travelled. Notice how we are told that Abraham lived beyond the River Euphrates and worshipped other gods. In other words, the emphasis is entirely on God reaching out to Abraham – without God’s gracious initiative, none of the story would have happened.

 So Joshua retells the story of the Israelites, putting the emphasis entirely on what God has done for them, rather than their own achievements.


To Ponder:

  • If you were to pause and tell the story of your life so far, what signs of grace would you want to emphasise?
  • How do you respond to the idea that God gave the land to Israel, by taking it away from those who first lived there? Does it help to remember that this is just part of the Bible and needs to be read alongside passages that emphasise God’s grace and mercy for all?
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