From Death to Life: How Joshua Gives Us Resurrection Hope in the Midst of Loss

photo-1416958672086-951aa7064010 2Moses was dead to begin with.
— Joshua 1:1 —

Marley was dead to begin with.
— Charles Dickens —

When Charles Dickens wrote the opening line to A Christmas Carol, he touched off one of the most wonderful Christmas stories ever told. Marley, the miserly associate of Ebenezer Scrooge, was dead and now all eyes turned to his living partner. Though the story begins in the darkness of Scrooge’s heart, by the end the light of Christmas opens the heart of this old sinner.

Something similar occurs when we read the opening line of Joshua. The titanic figure of Moses, the servant of Yahweh—the prophet, priest, and leader of Israel; the one who led Israel out of Egypt, received the Law, and stood before the wrath of God to seek Israel’s pardon—this incredible Moses was gone. Now, all eyes were set on Joshua, Moses’s Spirit-filled associate. Would he be able to lead the people into the light of the Promised Land?

Strikingly, both A Christmas Carol and Joshua are comedies. Meaning, that both find resolution and good cheer by the end of the book. In Dickens’ case, Scrooge is “converted” through the three Christmas spirits. In Joshua’s case, the Spirit of God is promised to Moses’s successor, such that Joshua’s glory, by the end of his life, is arguably greater than that of Moses. While Moses brought Israel out of the land, he died in the wilderness because of his sin. But Joshua, who contributed to Israel’s flight from Egypt, added to his credentials the successful deliverance of Israel into the land. Continue reading

Happily Ever After: A Meditation on God’s Word

What is the Bible?

In theological terms, the Bible is God’s inspired Word, his authoritative revelation of who he is, what he has done, and what he expects from his creatures. Yet, in terms of genre, what is the Bible?

Some speak of Scripture as God’s love letter to humanity; others describe it as God’s instruction manual—Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (B.I.B.L.E.). I am much more inclined to ground the Bible’s imperatives (read: laws) in the infinitives of what God has done (think: gospel). The Bible is not a human book for struggling humans. More fundamentally it is a book from God, about God, for God’s people to be reconciled to God. To say it differently: It is a word about the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, the one in whom all creation is unified (Eph 1:10).

For this reason, the most appropriate designation for the Bible is that it is an Epic Comedy that effects Salvation and Judgment. Let me explain.  Continue reading