Lessons Learned: Before There Was Google Maps...

The book of Joshua was kind of like reading Google Maps in text form, but it turned out to be interesting. This post summarizes what I gleaned from the book of Joshua.
The book of Joshua is basically Google Maps put into words... Initially, it seems boring, which probably explains why most of us skip the passages that just list cities. The only thing I could remember from the book of Joshua was the Battle of Jericho. Despite hearing "as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord" all the time, I had no idea this was a quote from Joshua (see Joshua 24:15). Once I saw the lists of cities, I knew this was one of the books I probably skimmed instead of read as a child. However, this time I was determined to get some meaning out of it. As I was reading the list of cities, I thought, "why would God preserve this?"; it had to have some significance. When the book of Joshua was written, there was no Google Maps for the Israelites to look up and check the boundaries, they had to be written out. Perhaps an physical map was made at some point, but during a hostile takeover, I doubt the Israelites had time to draw an accurate picture of the land and annotate it. Furthermore, a pictorial map isn't easy to memorize (unless you have a photographic memory). The lists in Joshua could be memorized easily so that each tribe knew where their boundaries were. Following this train of thought, I tried to place some of the locations on a modern map; I must say, this made it much more interesting. It's amazing to see that many of the cities have the same names today, as well as, to see how the names have changed. In addition, it helps put some perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is ongoing.

Because the U.S. is mostly Christian, the U.S. generally supports Israel and most Christians don't question this. Interestingly, when reading Joshua, you can clearly see that only an obedient Israel is able to take the Promised Land. According to the Bible, Israel shouldn't need the U.S. or the U.N. or anyone else; all they had to do was be obedient to God. He would give them the ability to conquer and keep the Promised Land. Note, when God initially commanded them to take the the land, He also commanded them to drive everyone else out. God knew that the Canaanites would tempt the Israelites to adultery. The Israelites did not follow this command, something that is mentioned throughout Joshua, and indeed, they fell into idolatry (which is covered in Judges). Greed overcomes the Israelites, so they keep the Canaanites around to pay tribute, i.e. to be exploited for money. Eventually, part of the land was taken by the Philistines (Palestinians). While Israel regains control of the land off and on, they are unable to maintain it due to their disobedience. This is basically the same thing that is being done today—Israel is still exploiting the another nation, this time the people of Palestine, for money.

Now, I'm not saying that the Israeli's should go kill the Palestinians. The Palestinians were not in Canaan when God told Israel to empty it of its inhabitants and thus, they would be considered the same as any other "stranger" in the land. All throughout the Books of Law Israel was told not to oppress strangers in the land, but to treat them decently. Furthermore, Israel made its decision when they chose to crucify Jesus and confirmed it when they stoned Stephen. That was the end of Israel as the chosen people; after that the Word of God was preached to Gentiles, which includes the Palestinians. As such, it is the body of Christ that has become God's "chosen people." So, from a Christian perspective, not only are the Palestinians equally able to accept Jesus and enter the kingdom of God, but without accepting Jesus and the New Testament, it's impossible for the Jews to follow the law; they have no Temple to perform the sacrifices. There are prophecies that people believe require Israel to be a nation, but I'll talk about that when we get there. At the moment, I think the Promised Land was a gift God gave that Israel never truly accepted so they lost it. More importantly, I think in order to understand the issue in our world today, we should have a good understanding of Joshua.

Many of the famous Biblical Cities such as Bethlehem and Jericho are located in the West Bank. It was interesting to see so many cities whose names have not changed and are in not in Jewish controlled territories. For example, the capital of Jordan is a city called Amman, in the same location Joshua places the sons of Ammon and their capital city. Also in Jordan is a city called Dhiban, in the same general proximity as the Biblical city of Dibon that was given to the tribe of Reuben. I discus many such cities in the posts covering the passages in which they were mentioned. This definitely made the read more enjoyable. Here in the Americas, our countries and cities are very young and the history of the Native American tribes that the land was stolen from was destroyed, so it's quite impressive that a city like Jerusalem has been in existence for over 4,000 years. For each additional city that amazement doubles! There's a lot of history contained in that region and Joshua was a nice introduction to that history.
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Israel over the years
Photocredit: University of Texas Library

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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