We definitely wouldn’t let our kids see this.
If the next Bible-inspired movie was about Joshua taking the Promised Land, it might even be one that many adults choose to miss, especially if it stays true to the biblical account. It would likely have more violence than the roughest action film to date, though at the same time, and to much surprise, offer more hope than the best feel-good movie ever could.
The Events of Joshua 10
Conquest is happening. At long last the people of Israel are coming into their promised land and Joshua is proving to be the model leader — a man who is devoted to God’s word and finds his refuge in God’s nearness. He’s been leveling cities and taking names by chapter 10 of his story. But then there are the five kings of the Amorites who join together in opposition to Israel. They gather their armies to fight against Gibeon, Israel’s shrewd ally, who sends word to Joshua: We’re surrounded by armies. Please help!
The Lᴏʀᴅ tells Joshua not to fear once again. These enemies will be toast. So he and his men march all night to meet them. And they panic. After a sword scuffle and some chasing, while the enemies are fleeing, God hurls huge stones from the sky to crush them. It was so remarkable that we’re given the little side comment: “There were more who died of hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword” (Joshua 10:11). Make no mistake about it, as in all of Israel’s conquest, this victory is the Lord’s. And to top it off, he stills the sun until the fighting is finished.
He Makes a Point
But what about those five kings? During the skirmish they had hid themselves in a cave. Joshua had found out and ordered large stones to be rolled over its opening to trap them inside while the battle went on. Once the kings’ armies were wiped out, Joshua returns to the cave, and makes it a spectacle. He has the stones removed and the five kings brought out. He wants to make an unforgettable point.
He gathers together all the men of Israel — and to this day, when we read this story, he gathers us as well. The soldiers stand there shoulder to shoulder, and we stand with them as part of the audience. Joshua has something he wants us all to see.
Calling the military chiefs from the crowd, he orders them to step forward and face these Amorite kings, presumably bound and lying on the ground. Joshua tells these leaders of Israel to put their feet on the necks of these kings, and then he proclaims,
Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lᴏʀᴅ will do to all your enemies against whom you fight. (Joshua 10:25)
And he means it. All Israel’s enemies — God’s enemies — will ultimately be defeated. Even in the darkest days, when it seems evil is prevailing, it’s not. It can’t. Why?
Because long before the chiefs of Israel put their feet on the necks of these foes, God promised us One who would put his foot on the neck of our greatest foe.
This is where Joshua 10 is pointing.
At the beginning, before we humans were exiled from the Garden, God said he would send a Son who would crush the serpent (Genesis 3:15). And indeed this Son has come. But rather than conquer by the strength of a sword, he conquered by the suffering of a cross. Rather than trap his enemies in a cave, he gave himself to be trapped, hid behind a large stone — until the third day when he rose from the dead and secured our victory over the grave.
“The Lᴏʀᴅ will fight for you” has now become to us: Jesus has fought for you.
And because of this truth, we hear Joshua’s words to Israel as an invitation to us. Based upon God’s promise of a Messiah, Joshua beckons us to stand in awe of this spectacle, embrace its symbolism, and connect this scene of hope to our struggles today.
Joshua invites us to take our own feet and place them on the neck of the Enemy. The sin that ceaselessly tries to ensnare us, put your foot on it. The lie that wants us to buy sin’s empty promises, put your foot on it. The demonic power that deceives the world and attempts to rob our joy, put your foot on it. And even Satan himself, one day soon, the God of peace will tell us, “Put your foot on him” (Romans 16:20).
Far from wishful triumphalism, this victory is real. Sin will not have dominion over us (Romans 6:14). He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4) — even though life can be hard and our experience is strewn with suffering.
The five Amorite kings were shamed to point us to another day when God’s enemies were shamed — the day when Jesus defeated them in his death. And even if it doesn’t make for kid-friendly entertainment or appear at all on the Hollywood screen, nothing could ever give us more hope.