Law language

Joshua 1:1-9

When Joshua replaced Moses, God gave him a promise, a charge and a guide. God promised him that “no one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life (Joshua 1:5). There’s also the promise that “every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you” (Joshua 1:3). The charge was to lead the people across the Jordan to obtain the territory.

God also encouraged Joshua. The new leader would need strength and courage. God said that three times.

But Joshua also goes with a gift. His gift is a guide. Joshua should receive it and meditate on it day and night. It’s broadly recognized that the translation of the gift most of us know is a poor choice. We call it the law. God instructed Joshua to be careful “to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you” (Joshua 1:7).

How we got the word law in the Bible has to do with translating across languages. To the point, a lot of images come to our mind when we hear the word law that don’t connect to what God gave Joshua or Moses.

Law is punitive. It can be burdensome. It is often unfair. And it’s incorrect to assume that’s what God gave the people.

Instead, God gave wisdom and instruction. Guidance and teaching. Laws wouldn’t lead Joshua through his charge. God’s wisdom would. And the people didn’t rejoice because they received a bunch of written laws about what to do and how to act. No, God gifted them with guidance that would lead them with and towards God’s peace.

Setting aside law language might help us rediscover the greater truth of scripture. Recognizing scripture as holy wisdom and guidance offers a clearer sense of how the Bible leads us today. As Christians, we have a promise from our Lord. We are never left alone or forsaken. And we have a calling to be a holy people.

Laws don’t help us do that. We need God’s wisdom!

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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