History Never Repeated Itself Like This

What You’ve Missed…
* Eleven chapters of the book of Joshua describing in detail how the Israelites divided up the land they conquered among themselves.  Eleven chapters.  In detail.
* The book of Judges has the best opening scene yet.  The Israelites kill 10,000 people in battle, and then cut off the thumbs and big toes of King Adoni-bezek.  That sounds like the start of a solid Joe Pesci mobster movie to me.  I’m in.
* Joshua dies and the Israelites go through a series of judges who rule over them.  One of them pulled some sweet James Bond spy moves and killed a comically fat bad guy.  One of them pulled some sweet Braveheart hand-to-hand combat moves and killed 600 regular bad guys.  And one of them was a woman who pulled some sweet Margaret Thatcher gumption and tact moves, and didn’t kill any bad guys.  But she did have the Israelite army kill about 900 bad guys.  Score one for women in power.

Days 90 and 91
Daily Readings: Judges 1-6

So, remember the blog about God giving His people a choice to obey Him or not?  And remember how the benefits of choosing to obey Him were ridiculously awesome?  And remember how the consequences of disobeying were ridiculously horrible?  Yeah.  Well.  Bad news folks.  The Israelites made a bad choice.

After Joshua and his generation of Israelites die, the next generation pretty much turn into a bunch of high-schoolers, ready to party hard the minute mom and dad pull out of the driveway.  They abandon God and choose to worship other gods.  And so round one of God’s promises come to pass.

“This made the LORD burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions.  He turned them over to their enemies…”  (Judges 2:14)

After eight years of suffering, Israel asks God for help, and so God raises up a judge to lead them, gives them victory over their enemies, and provides forty years of peace and prosperity.  Way to go Israel, lesson learned.

Or not.  Israel goes into cool, rebel, high-schooler mode again, doing their own thing and choosing not to obey God.  (I could probably sneak in some reference to High School Musical here…but I won’t, because High School Musical is horrible.  Granted, I’ve never seen it.  I just know it to be horrible, empirically speaking.)

So, God once again hands them over to their enemies and allows His people to suffer.  I’m not sure what Israel was expecting, but they discover that suffering is pretty horrible, so they ask God to rescue them again.  So He raises up another judge among them and not only does He rescue them, again, but this time He provides eighty years of peace for them.

Now, I’ll spare you the long version of the story and cut to the chase.  This happens again.  God’s people rebel, suffer greatly, ask for help, and God raises up a judge and helps.

Then, there’s finally a change of pace.  Just kidding.  There isn’t.  Because this happens AGAIN!  I mean, I know history repeats itself, but this is just ridiculous!  C’mon Israel!  You gotta institute some national holidays to remind yourselves that life with God is way better for you.  I know you probably don’t have fireworks choreographed to musical accompaniment, or animated television specials, or special Google logos to help mark the occasion, but you gotta come up with something here! How long can this go on?

And how long can God continue to put up with this?  He rescues them every single time! This is a level of patience and a degree of forgiveness that blows my mind.  I had a hard enough time staying calm when my younger brother “borrowed” my favorite t-shirt every time I came home from college.  (This happened repeatedly, and drove me nuts, repeatedly.)  And yet, God never loses it.  He never freaks out.  He never says enough is enough and just gives up on the Israelites, thinking they’re a lost cause.  In fact, the Bible says,

“Whenever the LORD raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime.  For the LORD took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering.”  (Judges 2:18)

To me, that’s a God who truly loves His people.  He takes them back every single time, even though they voluntarily chose to leave Him.  That is truly some crazy love.

Bible Body Count: More Than Robocop

What You’ve Missed…
* Moses sings a song. It’s a bit long, kind of a downer, and without any kind of infectious pop beat. I’m sure Simon would hate it, Paula would love it and Randy would still be trying to get everyone to think he’s really cool.
* Moses makes Joshua the new leader of Israel. (And the dude is ready to get down to business. Just keep reading.)
* Moses dies and God personally buries him. Which makes you wonder, did God give an amazing eulogy? And did He have an after funeral party to attend? And since that party was in heaven, was Moses there, attending his own after funeral party? (Also, is it possible to have seen Zoolander too many times? I mean, really?)
* The Israelites have a seven day music festival outside the walls of Jericho that makes Bonaroo look like amateur night at The Apollo. They literally brought the house down. Lots of houses actually. And then they killed everyone.

Day 84
Daily Reading: Joshua 10-12

So the forty years in the desert have come to a close and Israel is about to cross over the Jordan River and move into the Promised Land. There’s only one problem…it’s inhabited by tons of people who don’t really want to hand over everything to this crazy group of gypsies wandering through the desert who think they’re entitled to everyone else’s stuff simply because their God told them they could have it. Except, it isn’t really a problem at all because God is leading Joshua, and Joshua is a firm believer in killing anyone who gets in his way.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us on the brink of an epic war equal to those fought in the land of Middle Earth. (What’s Middle Earth? It’s where nerds pretend they live. It’s also the setting for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.) The word is out that the Israelites have defeated a couple of nations in the past, and this time around, no one is taking any chances. So five local kings in the area team up to fight and dominate Israel.

Things don’t go as planned for those kings, and they quickly find themselves impaled on poles, by Joshua. And as scripture so delicately states, “So Joshua and the Israelite army continued the slaughter and completely crushed the enemy. They totally wiped out the five armies…” (Joshua 10:20) Five armies down, and that’s only the beginning.

As God continued to hand city after city to Joshua, he continued to annihilate person after person.

“That same day Joshua captured and destroyed the town of Makkedah. He killed everyone it…leaving no survivors. He destroyed them all…Then Joshua and the Israelites went to Libnah and attacked it. There, too, the LORD gave them the town and its king. He killed everyone in it, leaving no survivors. From Libnah, Joshua went to Lachish…” (Joshua 10:28-31)

I think you get the idea. God leads Joshua to a city. Joshua and the Israelites destroy everyone. They move on. I imagine this to be, well, I imagine it to be a lot like this…

Only with less John Cleese, and more blood spraying all over the place…also with a lot more moaning, suffering, and recently amputated limbs flying everywhere. So, I guess what I’m saying is maybe it was really more like that scene in Kill Bill where Uma Thurman turns a cool Japanese nightclub into a modern day Thunderdome with her Samurai sword.

The Israelites do this again and again and again. They are an unstoppable force, completely wiping out, killing and destroying everyone who is not part of Israel. The Bible even says, “So they [Israel’s enemies] were completely destroyed without mercy, as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Joshua 11:20)

At the end of it all, Joshua and God’s army had completely destroyed thirty-one kings and their kingdoms. They went on a 31-0 killing streak. That’s some serious conquering and a whole heck of a lot of killing. That body count had to be in the millions. And that’s about the same as Robocop.

So…why isn’t the Bible rated R?