My son and I have been reading through the book of Joshua together. This book of the Bible begins is a very captivating way. The first chapters contain espionage, the miraculous dividing of the Jordan River so that the Israelites could walk through on dry ground, and the conquest of the formidable city of Jericho that began with a march and a shout. There is even an unexpected heroine – a woman who was formerly a harlot and who later became a pivotal person in the lineage of Jesus. I love these stories and believe every single word is true, no matter how improbable they sound to the modern reader, because they are taken from the Word of God.
If you’ve never read the book of Joshua, or even if you have, I would encourage you to read it. I think you will find it riveting…that is, until you reach chapter twelve. This is where the tone shifts and most of the remainder of the book gets a bit dull. There are seemingly endless lists of names – names of former kings who ruled over the land of Canaan, names of regions and cities, and names of the tribes of Israel who inherited land there. At least in the first two categories, I find the names largely unpronounceable. I muster through them as best I can and suspect I mispronounce them differently each time they are repeated. And that’s when the thought emerges: these lists are boring, they have nothing to do with me, and I think I will close down the remaining chapters of this book and start reading somewhere else – anywhere else. Surely God can’t expect me to get anything out of reading this stuff.
However, I do believe that God is not a God of fluff. You can’t always trust human writers. Maybe a publisher has told a prospective author that their book cannot be published unless it has so many pages or chapters. So they throw in extraneous detail. It would be easy to think that God is doing that in the latter chapters of Joshua or maybe to think that the information was only relevant to another people or another time. On the contrary, I believe God has given us the whole Bible and expects that we read the whole Bible. Once I gave a Bible as a gift. Expecting that it might get tossed aside, I inserted bills of varied amounts within its pages. I hoped that if it was read, the diligent reader would find the hidden treasure. Continue reading