It’s More Than Just Land {DWITW 365}


Can we be honest for a moment? Are you like me and wrestle with the idea of death and destruction by a loving God? I was tempted to skim over this week’s reading laden with conquest and geography. But I didn’t. And God spoke to my heart in a tender way because of it.

What was so important about the land the Israelites needed to take possession of anyway? Didn’t it belong to others who were already dwelling there? Was God just being cruel and socially unjust? What kind of a God would do that?! We’ve all encountered difficult passages we have either wrestled with or wanted to ignore because they’re challenging and uncomfortable.

Our reading this week is like that. It’s messy. And in our Western Christian culture, we don’t do messy well.

How often I am quick to take my culture and insert it into the Bible. And when I do, I come away with a misunderstanding of the passage and most importantly, misinformation about God.

Instead of ignoring the “elephant in the room,” I decided to face it. First, I had to remember that God delivered His Word to us in the context of an Eastern culture that is more organic and relational than ours. This culture also has a “two-handed” approach to thinking (“On the one hand…. but on the other hand…”) and welcomes discussion and wrestling with the tension of opposing options.

Personally, I seek comfort in having all the “right answers.” I cling to truth as a cherished possession I own. Everything should be black and white, balanced and fair, and coincide with my own values. I pull truth out of my pocket and wave it around when I’m backed into a corner. I place my full weight, trust, and life behind that truth as I’ve come to understand it. I even find security in it. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, there’s not much right with it either. And so began the struggle, and the Lord calling me back to center through the tension found in Joshua.

As I dug in, I learned something helpful: the book of Joshua was written in the form of an ancient land grant. Land grants were made for the benefit of vassals (slaves/people) living under a suzerain (lord/king) -- much different than treaties which were made for the king’s own personal benefit.

Just as God offered the Israelites kingdom identity, I need to understand the identity I have in Him as my King.

In a land grant, the land remained a part of the kingdom and was under the king’s control and protection. As long as the nation to whom the land was given remained loyal to the king, the land was theirs to keep. This arrangement gave the people a kingdom identity and sense of security. So what does this have to do with the Israelites? In the book of Joshua, God takes on the role of the suzerain. As such, there was no place for those who proclaimed loyalty to other gods.

God was carving out a place of identity for His people, and the world would know He is the one true King.

As I was digesting this, I began seeing similarities of my own heart to the “land.” Just as God offered the Israelites kingdom identity, I need to understand the identity I have in Him as my King. Just as He helped them vanquish the enemies and strongholds that stood in their path, I need to address the stubborn enemies and strongholds of my heart.

The Promised Land was to be a place of rest and kingdom living for the Israelites--a place where God’s glory would be on display for all the nations so they too might come to know Him as the one true King. This made me stop and reflect. Is God’s glory on display in my life? Am I tolerating strongholds and sins that are, in effect, enemies toward God? What is it that keeps me from enjoying the provision of my King -- from fully living in that place of security, peace, and identity He desires for me to enjoy?

These are the things God tenderly spoke to my heart as I read this week’s passage. And in them I find hope in a God who fights for me.

“How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors has given you?”
— Joshua 18:3

Jackie Perseghetti wants to live in a world where every human realizes they are walking wounded and in need of God’s grace. Her heart is to be God’s person at God’s time in the life of another and she looks for God-given moments to breathe life and encouragement. When Jackie is not going on adfuntures with her hubby (adventure with fun at the center) or teaching drums or the art of papercrafting, you can find her digging in her garden, storytelling to her grandkids, or sharing the stirrings of her heart at  She takes great comfort in her favorite Bible verses: Isaiah 41:10 and Isaiah 46:4.