Bible reading for July 6.
"And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written." (Joshua 8:32)
ESTABLISHING GOD'S RULE. The second city to fall, one larger than Jericho, was Ai. Joshua used tactics that built upon their previous failure. Afterwards the inhabitants are put to death but the livestock spared.* Joshua builds an altar, sacrifices are made, and God's law is copied on stone and read to the people. This signified that the pagan land, full of idols, was now to be guided by the law of God. It was the formal establishment of God's visible reign over that land. Some have felt that a good summary of the Bible story-line is that God in stages is re-establishing his visible and glorious rule over creation which was lost in the fall of man. This re-establishment of his kingdom will be consummated at the return of Christ. This is, of course, why we pray, "Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt 6:9-10 NET Bible).
*CIVILIAN DEATHS. Refer to previous posts on the morality of the Israelite invasion of Canaan. This war was unique, and a one-off, for the people of Israel. The conquest of Canaan was a judgment from God, not unlike his judgment at the flood and upon Sodom and Gomorrah. The NT makes it clear that this war and its battles and the land inheritance was all a picture, a foreshadowing, of the people of God inheriting the new heavens and new earth (Rev 21:7). There is conflict involved with that, as well. It is a spiritual conflict now, but then it will be physical (political, global) when Christ shall return as King and Judge (Psalm 110; Isa 9; 2 Cor 10:3-6; Rev 19:1-21). However, even in the modern era, we must realize there are times when military might is justified, such as the Allied bombings of Germany and Japan, which included the deaths of many civilians and brought World War II to an end. Today, it is by our technology and strong military that we are able to keep wars (so far) off our own shores, e.g., by using stealth aircraft, smart bombs, cruise missiles, and drones to keep our enemies at bay. Military conflicts are a part of the reality of this world.
"Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." (Psalm 139:14)
SETTING. King David, feeling out of control and in the dark about a vicious attack he is facing, nevertheless expresses his trust in God to guide him through it. He considers his prenatal formation within his mother's womb. At that time he was unaware, unconscious, in the dark, not in control, and yet, God puts his life together and ordains in advance every day that he shall live. This truth gives David confidence in the Lord to see him through his trial and to face the attacks. David extols the character and nature of his God in this psalm.
GOD'S ATTRIBUTES. Psalm 139 naturally reinforces a pro-life viewpoint (cf Luke 1:41-44). This psalm also exalts several attributes of God: his omniscience (he is all-knowing, vv 1-6), his omnipresence (he is everywhere present, vv 7-12), his wisdom (in shaping our unformed substance, vv 13-16), his providence (in ordaining our days, v 16), his infinity (vv 17-18), and his holiness (his hatred of evil, vv 19-24). David not only calls for judgment upon his enemies (vv 19-22), but also for God's judgment concerning sin in his own life (vv 23-24). He is not self-righteous or superior in this regard, but recognizes that God's people should have a hatred for sin wherever it may be found (Rom 12:9).
FORMED IN THE WOMB. The image of the formless being formed (or woven) brings to mind God's creation of a good world out of formlessness and disorder (Gen 1). The word used for "formed" (v 13) is also used for Eve's bearing a child (Gen 4:1), and of God's forming of Israel (Deut 32:6). King David was the human ancestor of our Lord and Savior Jesus (Rom 1:3), who would then bring about a new creation. Is it possible that this passage is a foreshadowing of the incarnation of Christ brought about by God's miraculous wisdom and power? The fulfillment of our salvation began in a mother's womb, for it was said to Mary: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy - the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
Image credit: photo by Christin Noelle on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.