Imminent Judgment & The Gospel
Understanding the book of Joshua requires the understanding that while the Lord fulfilled His promises to His people, He was concurrently fulfilling His righteous judgment upon the Canaanites. Both sides of the spectrum spectacularly exhibits God’s glory. His glory is demonstrated in His care for His people, and His glory is demonstrated in His judgment on the idolatrous people of the land. Honestly, I have never read or studied the book of Joshua and come away from it with the somberness I have in our current study on Sunday mornings.
Of course, God is patient. Over 400 years earlier, He gave time for the iniquity of the Amorites to be complete (Gen. 15:16). But the time had come and it was clear that His wrath would not be thwarted. He commanded Israel that they were to utterly destroy them… make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. They were to devote them to complete destruction (Deut. 7:1-5). That phrase, devote to destruction is used six times in the book of Joshua, indicating an offering satisfying God’s wrath. The conquest of Jericho gives a snapshot of God’s judgment. There, they utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword (6:21).
The truth is, it is much too easy to glance at such passages as though they describe the latest Netflix movie thriller. It’s so… sterile. But these are real life, flesh and blood people. People just like you and me pounding out a daily living. These are just like your friends and loved ones who are without Christ. These are people who not only faced God’s judgment in the physical realm, but who are facing His eternal wrath even until today.
The very fact that God’s holiness justifies and demands his righteous judgment on unbelieving mankind makes the entire matter quite sobering. The Lord IS patient… not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance… BUT THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME! (2 Pet. 3:9-10). There is a day of reckoning when God’s righteous judgment will come. Ponder on that for a bit!
If you know Christ, you know what makes the gospel such good news is that of His own volition, God extended His mercy toward you. Through Jesus’ sacrificial work for redemption, your sin has been forgiven and you have been reconciled to God. But many have not! They remain at enmity with God (Rom. 8:5-8). Any and all who are outside of Christ will justifiably face the fierce wrath of God. This includes real, flesh and blood people, many whom we know. But until He returns, there is still opportunity for men to turn to Christ.
Is it any wonder the Prophet Isaiah (and Paul) said, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! (Isa. 52:7; Rom. 10:15)
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? …So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:13–17)
I wonder if it shouldn’t be… that each time we, as true followers of Christ rejoice in the glorious gospel of Christ that we are also soberly reminded of God’s pending judgment to come… that the world’s only hope is the gospel… and that we are the Lord’s chosen means to proclaimed it.
Soli Deo Gloria!