The objection has been raised in regards to the Book of Joshua and the occupation of the land of Canaan by the children of Israel, that it doesn’t quite seem fair to the people who already inhabited the land. How can God be considered good and just, it has been asked, when it seems that He ordered the arbitrary genocide of an entire race of people?
In the Book of Leviticus, we catch a glimpse of just how horrific and appalling the sins of this people had become by the time the Israelites began to take possession of the land. Their depravity had reached such a point that the land itself is said to have become defiled, and that this land vomited them out, as it were (Lev. 18:24-28). But the question remains, Did they have ample opportunity to turn from their sin before judgment came upon them?
Almost a footnote in God’s prophecy to Abraham concerning the coming captivity of the Jewish people to the Egyptians, the Lord mentions in Genesis 15:16, “…For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” How profound are the implications of this simple statement! We see that God is concerned with the fate of the people who already occupy the land of Canaan. These are real people whom God loves and wants to turn to Him. There is no question that it was not God’s desire that these people be utterly wiped out by the nation of Israel. No, He wanted them to repent of their sins. Their iniquity was “not yet complete”, in other words, they were being given time to come around. What if they had repented and come to God, would they have been destroyed anyway? Since God had already decreed it, was there no hope for them?
“If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.” (Jeremiah 18:7-8)
The people already in the land of Canaan were afforded more than 400 years to repent of their wickedness and turn to God. If four centuries was insufficient time for them to change, then how much time was necessary? Secular humanists say that mankind, left to his own devices, will become better and more responsible with greater moral character over time. Human morality, they say, is “evolving” just as our physical bodies are “evolving.” The suggestion is that man becomes nobler as time goes by, and his actions more benevolent. But this certainly was not the case for the Amorites. God gave them more than 400 years to turn from their sins and all they did during that time was become worse and worse.
“But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:5)
God gave a space of time to the Canaanites that they might turn from their sin and turn to Him. He graciously gave them 400 years to come to Him. But all that they did during this time was become bolder in their sinfulness and more blatant in their wickedness. The problem was not that they did not have enough time to come to God, but that they chose not to. The problem also was not that they were ignorant of Who God was nor of His glory (Joshua 2:9-11). The problem was that they loved their sin and despised God, rejecting His gracious offer of repentance and exhausting His long-suffering patience. With each passing day they became more emboldened in their rebellion, thinking that God’s judgment would never come. Yet they succeeded not in preventing the inevitable, only in storing up the wrath of God against themselves.
If you have not yet come to Christ, turning from your own sins, then may I ask you: How much time is enough? Are you waiting for another day, preferring to enjoy the temporary and fleeting pleasures of your own sinfulness a little longer? Are you supposing that there will be time enough later to come to God and make things right with Him? God is patient and He allows all of us a period of time to repent and turn to Him, but the time comes when we have exhausted His patience, repudiated His Grace, and waited too long. The Amorites had 400 years, but we can be assured that we have nowhere near so long. Like them, we know not how long we do have before all that remains for us is certain judgment. Won’t you come to Him today?
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published December 17, 2009]
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]
***All Scripture quotations in this post are from: English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
“The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.” (Joshua 5:12)
The daily appearance of the Manna in the Wilderness was nothing short of miraculous. The Manna itself is a reminder that, regardless of whither our Lord shall lead us, He will provide for all our needs when we faithfully walk in His will. Even if He must employ inexplicable and miraculous means, God will never leave us without. The Lord is our Shepherd, we shall know no want.
Even so, this passage in the Book of Joshua reveals that God, though capable of operating in His Universe without any limitations on behalf of those who are His own, seems to prefer the ordinary, the mundane, and the visible over the extraordinary and sublime. Within the pages of Scripture we find no instances of a miracle of God performed without distinct purpose and seldom is a miracle implemented when other, more conventional methods are readily available. Our Lord is a wonder-working God possessing unfathomable supernatural abilities, yet He does not frivolously execute miracles for the entertainment and amusement of His creation. Neither will God endlessly bolster a superficial and tenuous faith with a ceaseless cavalcade of astonishing acts of Divine power. Our faith is to rest on the Person of Christ and what He has done for our Salvation, not upon His ability to impress us with His wonders.
God poured out the Manna from Heaven because no other sufficient source of food was available in the barren Wilderness through which the Children of Israel passed into Canaan. If grain had been plenteous in that land, we may be certain that God would have directed His people to partake of it. But it was not. Thus the Manna began to appear daily in the camp and continued to do so as long as it was necessary. The time came, however, when the Hebrews entered into the Land of Promise and ate of the yield of Canaan.
In our own walk with the Lord, our flesh continues to crave the sensational, the spectacular; our fascination with the strange and wonderful seeks to be gratified. But it is not the miraculous and supernatural which needs to be emphasized in the Body of Christ today, it is the preaching and study of His Word. Many believers are contented to keep their eyes fixed on the sky, waiting for the Manna to fall in their midst when all the while the Lord is wanting them to eat the “natural food” to which they already have access. God cares too much for our spiritual growth to forever spoon-feed us that which satiates our curiosity yet leaves our souls growling with hunger.
To eat the yield of the land, that is, to come before the Lord in an attitude of prayerful expectation as we open our Bibles even as He opens the eyes of our understanding requires effort and work on our part. But that is the way that God intends for it to be. Remember, the generation that first partook of the Manna was that same generation which perished in the Wilderness. Apparently the supernatural provision of daily food was not enough to subdue hearts bent on rebellion.
Finally, let us consider that the cessation of the Manna in no way meant that God was no longer working tirelessly on behalf of the Hebrews. For in the very next verse of Joshua we have the revelation of the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus as the Captain of the Hosts of the Lord. Neither was the end of Manna the end of God’s miraculous intervention for the Israelites because the conquest of Jericho is related in the following chapter. God’s powerful, wonder-working hand is always laboring for the welfare, safety, and provision of His people, either visibly or invisibly. We do not see the Captain of the Hosts of the Lord marching with the Hebrews around Jericho, but surely He was there among them. It was He Who would cause the walls of the city to collapse.
When the Holy Spirit speaks through His Word to a heart desperately seeking answers and to know Him better, is this any less of a “miracle” than a physical sickness being healed? When the Word of God brings light to a heart plagued by darkness, is this less of a work of the Lord than speaking in an unknown tongue? And when the Lord Jesus Christ turns on the light of understanding in a person who has rejected Him time and time again, the Gospel penetrating a lost soul through the preaching of Scripture and bringing the life of Salvation where before only death reigned, is this less significant than even an actual bodily resurrection would be?
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,