“Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.  And Joshua did so”.  Joshua 5:15

“…His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily….”  Luke 18:7-8

Joshua has just led the Israelites across the Jordon, into the promised land.  Moses is not leading him, because he has died.  In fact all who left Egypt with Moses, have died.  They rebelled against God, not just once but over and over again.  Yet God did not wipe them off the face of the earth.  When they forsook God’s commandment and had no faith in Him and would not enter into the promised land because they were afraid, God held them accountable and would not let them ever enter.  But He still remained with them and instead of leaving them and their children alone to perish; God was now bringing their children into the promised land.  Few realize that, just like God used Moses to part the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians, God used the priests of the Ark, to part the Jordon for His people to cross over into the promised land.  And like using the burning bush and the sacred ground around it to speak to Moses before he was sent to Egypt, God sent a holy messenger to speak to Joshua as he led God’s people into the promised land.  After all that the people of Israel had done against God, He did not give up on them.

Jesus tells the story of a judge who gives into the requests of a woman for justice, simply because she keeps nagging him over and over again.  Jesus says if an earthly judge who has no regard for God and men will come to a person’s aid just because she keeps asking and asking; how much quicker will God come to the aid of those who believe and cry to him.  However, do not overlook, I think, an extremely important part  “….though He bears long with them.  God’s elect are not perfect people.  They (or in today’s time I) may very well cry out to him today and totally forget Him tomorrow.  They (I) may very well cry out for justice for me, while I treat someone else equally unfairly.  They (I) may cry out to be avenged, and then when God graciously answers, they (I) may take all the credit as if they (I) were the one solely responsible for my deliverance.

I find it ironic, in a sad sort of way, that God is so often portrayed in a judgmental, harsh, unforgiving way.  They point to the judgment in a story like Sodom and Gomorrah while forgetting about the mercy giving to Nineveh.  They forget that even with S&G, the Lord told Abraham, if He could find as few as 10 just men, in the entire city, He would spare it.  For every story of God carrying out righteous judgment with destruction, there are countless more of Him mercifully sparing those who erred, giving them another chance to change their ways.

God blessed Joshua and he led the Israelites into the promised land.  Alas, they would rebel again.  There would be destruction and being carried away into exile, but God never stopped loving them and protecting them.  And, when the time was right, God said I will bring about my greatest plan of sacrifice, mercy and redemption.  I will send my Only Son, Jesus Christ to pay the ultimate, final atonement for the sins of My beloved creation.  Why would God do that?  Because He says, I have too much Love for them to see them eternally condemned and kept apart from Me.  Jesus Christ echoed that love, not just in His death, but in His request for forgiveness for those who were murdering him.  spoken while hanging on the very instrument of His death, the cross.

Brothers and sisters, we will sin.  The enemy, the prince of this world, will try and convince us that God is a vengeful, judgmental God who wants nothing to do with us because we sin.  But if we look, we will see Jesus Christ, with scarred hands and feet, reaching out to us and saying; See what My Father has done for you.  See the love that He and I have for you.  Come, believe in Me, Christ says, and know that in Me, you will find no condemnation.  Jesus Christ declares, I have taken your sins upon me, promising to you that though you may stray, you are never truly lost to My Father.  May it be that we find strength, reassurance and comfort from knowing that God will never give up on us.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we are so thankful for the blessings that You pour out upon us, chief among those being Your Mercy.  Thank you for sparing us from the judgment that we deserve for our actions against our brothers and sisters and against You.  We are eternally grateful for the gift of Salvation that You have made available to us through the life, death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help us Dear Father, to live with the sure knowledge of that forgiveness and give us a spirit of forgiveness with others.  Give us the strength to resist temptation as well as the humbleness to repent when we succumb to the lure of temptation and sin.  These things we pray in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen