When I pulled this principle from Joshua 10 (you could say it’s really from chapters 6-12), I wanted to express it in some visual form, so I decided to try making a collage (a foreign art to me.)
When we read the story of Joshua and the Israelites conquering the land of Canaan, we are likely to focus on one of the two aspects of God’s nature that are expressed there: His grace or His justice. Since we do not see things from God’s perspective, we can read Joshua 10 and only see God’s grace. He is fulfilling His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by giving them a land, allowing them to have victory wherever they go; “I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant” Josh 24:13. Wherever Israel went, blessing followed. Or we can see only His holy justice; He is killing thousands of people, child-sacrificing, idolatrous Canaanites, (look at Josh 10:29-40, or 12:7-24.) Wherever Israel went, utter destruction followed. How can we reconcile these two, seemingly-contradictory truths?
Rather than seeing God’s grace and justice as two different, or opposite, attributes, maybe we should see them as two hands, intertwined. As if they were holding hands, both grace and justice are seen in each move of God throughout Joshua 6-12, the fingers of blessing and judgment in each action of the Israelites.
To support the “grace hand” in the picture, I’ve chosen Joshua 1:2-6, where God promises victory to Israel wherever they go, so long as they obey Him. And since they did obey (Josh 24:31), we see God providing for His people in mighty, miraculous ways.
Over the “justice hand” I’ve put Joshua 12:7-24, an exhaustive list of every king that God gave over to Joshua for utter destruction.
Central to the picture, I’ve put the closing passage of the book of Joshua, 24:16-18. As Israel conquered and settled into Canaan, they saw God move in grace and justice, which motivated them to live in humble worship. The climax of the story is underlined, verse 18: “The LORD drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.” Though from a broken, human perspective, Israel saw that God was both gracious and just, and dedicated themselves to living in worship of Him.
The clearest expression of this “holding hands” principle is found at the cross: as God’s justice is poured out upon
Jesus, His grace is poured out upon us. So put the crown of thorns in the background: these two attributes of God woven together into one painful, beautiful expression.