This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.Joshua 1:8
Depart from my mouth? It would be a genuine comfort if I could recall who put all that there, because I am not a Jew (even though I am a follower of the King of the Jews, the Saviout of the world). Not many of us can honestly recall getting a mouthful of law, yet some would love to keep pretending that they were born with the law of God in their hearts, and they lost it. This should disturb every believer.
Knowing that the law is not for the just[ified] we can restate what has been said to us consistently. (1) The law is spiritual (2) so one needs to be born again (3) to recognize (discern) it and (4) there is no guarantee that one observes its hundreds of instructions, and then (they tell us) that (5) the believer needs to hide God’s word in our hearts (6) so that we do not sin against him.
That is what we say. What we mean walks away from the writer’s intention and end up making up what we want people to hear. How many lies did you detect in that scenario? The law is, pure and simple, a lot of talk. Do not complicate your life by labeling God’s work with Israel as God’s will for the human race. How many of us are ready to go where the Hebrew people have lived?
Was Moses terrified or reverent in his encounter with Yahweh on Mount Sinai?
18) For you are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor to blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19) And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 20) (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21. And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)Hebrews 12:18-21
We can try to restate the Joshua proposition as we can best receive it.
- I, Gentile, need to learn everything that is written because I need death and condemnation
- I, Gentile, need to say (recite, meditate on) everything that is written because I am a leader in Israel
- I, Gentile, need to observe everything that is written
- Because that is how I, Gentile, ensure prosperity and success for myself
If we found the mercy, justice and faith in those books we would have neither the community nor the authorized processes to make them work. If we are fearful of not pleasing God then we can consider that God’s love is a stranger to our hearts.
Reverently receiving the word
Much of the message planted in Joshua will find no good ground where it can germinate. Consider the following. Some things in Scripture are not going to be repeated and others are fulfilled and pass away.
- None of us is anywhere near Joshua’s person, or near his actual or typical mission.
- No believer sits as the leader of God’s people.
- No believer is responsible, like Cap’n Joshua, for taking the Lord’s people into their inheritance.
I can read a story and find neither instruction nor correction. Most people tend to invent a morale. The truly dangerous set Scripture aside and get the meaning from a dream or vision or create a story with magical twist. What is missing is a heart open to love people like God does. That is fear’s antidote.