The following is a list of the kings that Joshua and the Israelite armies defeated on the west side of the Jordan…
In all, thirty-one kings were defeated. (Joshua 12:7,24)
Relate: There are a lot of scholars out there who like to try and prove that The Hebrew people were not at first a monotheistic people. There are a lot of other pseudo-scholars out there who try and demonstrate why all those “liberal” scholars are wrong. Yes, many of those scholars are liberal but, at least in this case, they are not wrong. If you look at a progression of what God revealed about Himself to His followers it would look something roughly like this: “I am Your God. I am a great God. I am greater than all other gods. Those other gods are not really gods at all. I am the only god.” None of these statements are false, but they were not all given immediately right up front.
That makes sense when you think about it. Theologically, the early Hebrews were like children. If your three year old comes up to you and asks, “Where do babies come from?” I am sure you are not going to give them all of the information, immediately, right out of the gate. You will likely say something like, “Well, daddy and mommy love each other very much and so God gave them a little baby to love and care for.” This statement is truth, but it certainly not the whole truth. The whole truth would only confuse and, later, gross out.
Personally, I think our theological understanding is roughly the equivalent of a ten year old and there is a whole lot more to be revealed once we mature past death but that is neither here nor there. We certainly know more than did the prophets who certainly knew more than the patriarchs. Getting back to the point at hand, I believe (and yes this is my opinion) that the generations of Moses and Joshua were a significant turning point in the spiritual maturity of the Children of Israel. They are moving beyond the “God is your great God” into the “God is greater than all other gods” phase of understanding. Egypt was a polytheistic culture and I demonstrated in Beat Down of the Gods how each of the ten plagues was a demonstration of God’s power over another of the gods in the Egyptian pantheon.
The Canaanites were a different kind of polytheism. Technically, they were monolatristic. That means they believed in a bunch of gods just like the Egyptians but each city would have a special, specific patron god. One city would focus their worship on Baal, another on Astarte. A third would worship Yam and a fourth would have Molech as their patron. Many of the lesser deities would be the focus for smaller towns. Places like Ai and Luz would be more likely to have Asclepius or Yarikh as their god. I don’t know if anyone has ever tried to link up what ancient cities were connected with which gods but I would love to see such a study if it exists. Most likely we have no clue and never will, but I do not doubt that those of Joshua’s generation were very aware of which gods were worshipped in which cities. I would bet dimes to dollars that when working through this list they were thinking, “Yup. We beat Baal, and Dagon, and Mot, and Asherah, and…” Our God is greater than all other gods. He has proven Himself strong time and time again.
React: Our God is greater than all other gods. He has proven Himself strong time and time again. We no longer are foolish enough to believe that there is a different god for every city, but in many ways I don’t think we have really matured when it comes to spiritual matters. We are just a different kind of dumb. Where once there was a god or a spirit or an angel or demon under every rock, now we have swung all the way to the other side of the pendulum. Now we are insane enough to believe that there is no spiritual world at all. We have a four hundred year old Baconian mindset that says if we can’t see it, or hear it, smell taste or touch it, then it doesn’t exit. How dumb is that?
Even most of us who do claim to believe God do our best to keep Him tucked away in our little box that we might pull out for an hour or two on the first day of some weeks. The rest of the time… well, who cares? We’ll just do our thing and that is that. Truth is, God is greater. He is greater than all other gods, even the god we have made of ourselves. He is greater than any box we might try to put Him into and He is most certainly greater than the drab, sterile, materialistic imaginary world we have tried to make for ourselves.
I am so grateful that You are who You are no matter how limited, distorted, or immature our understanding of You might be. I am sorry for the times I have made You too small in my eyes. Well, actually, that is every moment of every day. No matter how great I can understand You to be, You are still far, far greater. Enlarge and mature my understanding until You are so great in my life that all I can do is fall to my knees in surrender.