Reflections: Wednesday of the Sixth Week After Pentecost

July 3, 2024 

Today’s Reading: Joshua 8:1-28

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 8:1-28; Acts 11:1-18

And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. (Joshua 8:1)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There are those Christians today who have no use for the Old Testament. In fact, some people have thought that there must be two Gods found in the Bible, one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. The Old Testament god is an angry old man, full of wrath, shooting lightning bolts and fire at everyone. He loves war, destruction, and bloodshed. The god of the New Testament is one of acceptance– kind and peaceful. He is always laughing, walking around with baby sheep, and happy with everyone. This view is far from the truth; the Lord our God is one. He does not change in both testaments of the sacred Scriptures. 

The Old Testament often refers to God as “The Lord of Hosts” or “Yahweh of Armies.” Yahweh of Armies is used to describe God’s role as a protector of his people, even when they are engaged in battle. In Joshua chapter 8, Yahweh of Armies speaks the battle plan, which shows signs of God’s mercy as He takes into account the sin and weakness of those He is fighting for. 

Although the destruction of Ai and Bethel may seem ruthless, Yahweh of Armies fights for His people by protecting them from their enemies and defending His holy name. Israel’s army is involved in the fighting, even though they, as a nation, must repent of their sins. We are at war today. We are fighting against sin, temptation, and the devil, but the biggest enemy we face is ourselves. We have been the cause of war, destruction, and death. However, Yahweh of Armies fights for us by going to war for us through His suffering and death on the cross. Jesus fights what seems to be a losing battle. He goes to war by losing His life, seemingly losing the war against the enemies of sin, death, and the devil. But through His glorious resurrection, He has won the victory for us. 

In the Eucharistic liturgy, we sing the words of the Old Testament, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabaoth.” The word “Sabaoth” means heavenly armies. The Old Testament always points us to Jesus, who fights for us even now today. By the Word and Sacraments, our Lord forgives and strengthens you to meet the challenges and spiritual warfare we face each day as we call on Him to fight for us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The Son of God goes forth to war A kingly crown to gain. His blood-red banner streams afar; Who follows in his train? Who best can drink His cup of woe, Triumphant over pain, Who patient bears his cross below– He follows in His train. (LSB 661:1)

-Rev. Kent Schaaf is pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Little Rock, AR.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Jonathan Lackey is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Vine Grove, Ky.

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