“The LORD your God will give you rest …”
It often troubles people that God waged violent warfare in Canaan at the time of Joshua. But the land and its people already belonged to God, and they had been in rebellion against him for more than 400 years. In the meantime, God had been patient and longsuffering, providing for them, but they never turned back to him. So this part of Israel’s history illustrates that eventually God brings punishment. (For background, see Genesis 15:13-19; Exodus 1-15; 23:20-33; Leviticus 18:24-30.)
Sadly, there is violence in the world, and that is a result of human sin. And it must be said that we are all sinners and enemies of God (Romans 3:23). Wherever our sin brings conflict into God’s world, violence often erupts. God wants full life and peace for his people, but the powers of evil tear away at that and bring death.
The Lord, though, is far more powerful, and his goodness will prevail. He turns his enemies into his children. He promises rest from violence, and his Son, Jesus, has begun providing that for all who believe in him. He died to redeem us from sin and give us new life with God.
And one day, just as God promised Israel, when all his enemies are defeated, he will give his people complete rest, and they will live with him forever in a new heaven and new earth. That’s what the promised land of Canaan pointed to. (See also Matthew 11:28-30; 26-28; Revelation 21:1-7.)
Help me, Lord, to find rest in you alone. Help me to trust in you and to live faithfully for you. Amen.
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