Joshua 8:34-35 34 Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law—the blessings and the curses—just as it is written in the Book of the Law.35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.
We live in a culture that thrives on getting all the benefits without any of the hard stuff. We want the income without having to go to work. We want the spiritual maturity without the discipline. We want the sex without the marriage. We want God’s blessings without having to follow His instructions. This approach will surely lead us to our demise. If we continue, we will end up with lots of toys and major credit card debt (which we can’t pay off). We will end up with divorce rates through the ceiling. We will end up with Christians who know very little about their God. Oh wait… that stuff has already happened.
What struck me about today’s reading were these two verses at the end of chapter 8. Joshua had just successfully led the people in a battle victory that completely destroyed the city of Ai. He concluded the victory by offering a sacrifice to God and reminding the people of the law of God. Essentially, he didn’t want them to forget this time what God had instructed them to do. What I found interesting about these verses was not the fact that Joshua read the law to the people, it was the fact that he didn’t leave any parts out. Now I realize that it seems absurd that he would leave some parts out, but he very well could have. After this great victory, he could have reminded the people of all the great ways and blessings of the Lord. He could have encouraged them by reminding them of God’s promises. But instead, he read it for what it was. He read the parts about the blesses and he read the parts about the curses. He wanted them to understand the “whole” of God, not just the feel-good stuff.
Yet today we often do just the opposite. We open the Bible to find a feel-good word. We talk about God like He is a teddy bear, soft and cuddly. God is so much more than that. And while the Bible is full of blessings and encouragements, it also contains the hard stuff that God asks us to do. You know, those are the parts we like to skip. I appreciate that Joshua didn’t skip the hard parts. Instead, he just presented the Word for what it was. I think we would do ourselves a favor to follow suit. If we become a people who desire to gorge ourselves on the blessings of God without living the life He calls us to, we will be sadly disappointed. But worse yet, we will misrepresent the very character and nature of God. So the next time you want to skip over the hard stuff in the Bible, press on and read through it. Even though it may not sound fun, it will bring you life.