Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 16

I invited hubby to read with me this afternoon. I don't think he fully realized just how much I read every day. We covered Joshua 1 through 14.

These chapters raised more questions than answers. One of the biggest objections to religion, to belief in God, concerns the stories of the Israelites conquering Canaan. People argue that God could not be so cruel and mean as to order the killing of thousands of people.

It's a valid question. I've been studying it off and on for the past year and I still don't have an answer.

As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses
Joshua 11:15.

For it was of the Lord to harden their [the Canaanites] hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses
Joshua 11:20.

So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war
Joshua 11:23.

I think these texts are very clear. The Lord ordered that the people of Canaan be killed when the Israelites entered the land. Joshua 11:20 says that the people of Canaan attacked Israel and that is why they were destroyed. I noticed this in each battle before even reading this chapter. The Canaanites had heard of Israel. They knew that God had taken them out of Egypt and were bringing them to Canaan. They knew that the Israelites were powerful because God was with them and was giving them power. So the Canaanites were forewarned but decided to attack Israel regardless.

So far I understand the stories. But then I see the pesky little phrase "it was of the Lord to harden their hearts." God also "hardened Pharaoh's heart." Almost every single person I've discussed this with says that God allowed their hearts to be hardened but didn't actually cause their hearts to be hardened. Unfortunately, that's not exactly what the Bible says. What does it mean that "God hardened Pharaoh's heart?" I don't know. I'm still looking for answers.


Alilia said...

This issue is a very widely asked question. I googled it & most of the highest indexed websites make points that I disagree with. This article explains it the best of the ones that I looked at:

I also think you ought to read Patriarchs & Prophets. It really expounds on the subject. It is such a blessing, I hate to see you missing out on it. As many readathons as you have joined, I was surprised you did not join the Conflict of the Ages readathon. It's just one chapter per day of all 5 books & finishes in the middle of November, so it is not too late to join...

Alilia said...

Here is the part that pertains to what you were discussing:

Still the heart of Pharaoh grew harder. And now the Lord sent a message to him, declaring, "I will at this time send all My plagues upon thy heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like Me in all the earth. . . . And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee My power." Not that God had given him an existence for this purpose, but His providence had overruled events to place him upon the throne at the very time appointed for Israel's deliverance. Though this haughty tyrant had by his crimes forfeited the mercy of God, yet his life had been preserved that through his stubbornness the Lord might manifest His wonders in the land of Egypt. The disposing of events is of God's providence. He could have placed upon the throne a more merciful king, who would not have dared to withstand the mighty manifestations of divine power. But in that case the Lord's purposes would not have been accomplished. His people were permitted to experience the grinding cruelty of the Egyptians, that they might not be deceived concerning the debasing influence of idolatry. In His dealing with Pharaoh, the Lord manifested His hatred of idolatry and His determination to punish cruelty and oppression.

God had declared concerning Pharaoh, "I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go." Exodus 4:21. There was no exercise of supernatural power to harden the heart of the king. God gave to Pharaoh the most striking evidence of divine power, but the monarch stubbornly refused to heed the light. Every display of infinite power rejected by him, rendered him the more determined in his rebellion. The seeds of rebellion that he sowed when he rejected the first miracle, produced their harvest. As he continued to venture on in his own course, going from one degree of stubbornness to another, his heart became more and more hardened, until he was called to look upon the cold, dead faces of the first-born.

God speaks to men through His servants, giving cautions and warnings, and rebuking sin. He gives to each an opportunity to correct his errors before they become fixed in the character; but if one refuses to be corrected, divine power does not interpose to counteract the tendency of his own action. He finds it more easy to repeat the same course. He is hardening the heart against the influence of the Holy Spirit. A further rejection of light places him where a far stronger influence will be ineffectual to make an abiding impression.

He who has once yielded to temptation will yield more readily the second time. Every repetition of the sin lessens his power of resistance, blinds his eyes, and stifles conviction. Every seed of indulgence sown will bear fruit. God works no miracle to prevent the harvest. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7. He who manifests an infidel hardihood, a stolid indifference to divine truth, is but reaping the harvest of that which he has himself sown. It is thus that multitudes come to listen with stoical indifference to the truths that once stirred their very souls. They sowed neglect and resistance to the truth, and such is the harvest which they reap.