Scripture Focus: Joshua 8.1, 33-34
1 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.

33 All the Israelites, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the Lord, facing the Levitical priests who carried it. Both the foreigners living among them and the native-born were there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel.

34 Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law—the blessings and the curses—just as it is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.

Student Writers Month:
This month, The Park Forum welcomes college and seminary student writers pursuing ministry careers. For more info about our yearly Student Writer program, see our website.

Reflection: God’s Presence After Failure
By Jolene Davidson Crouch

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” initially seems an odd way for God to start instruction but, after Joshua 7, this statement is assurance that His presence is still with Israel. In Joshua 7 we read of Achan’s sin and the consequence the Israelites faced because of it. They fail in battle and God tells Joshua He will not be with them anymore until the people consecrate themselves. Atonement was made, God “turned from his fierce anger” (v. 8) and this is where chapter 8 begins. How often have I messed up, repented, and needed to know God’s presence was still with me?  

It’s difficult for me to do something after I’ve failed. Anxiety creeps in with “What if I fail again?” “What if I didn’t hear God correctly?” Reading Joshua 8 I am jealous God gave the Israelites detailed instructions and let them know they would succeed! Yet he provides me with instructions in his word. I am instructed to act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). I am instructed “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 6:18). I am instructed “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33). I find myself jealous when God lays out an obvious path for others, but I don’t always follow the path God put in front of me.

The beauty of Joshua 8 is found in God’s provision for his people. The final verse of Chapter 8 shows Joshua reading the law, the blessings and the curses to the entire assembly of Israel.  Men, women, children, native born Israelites, and the foreigners living with them were all invited to share in God’s Covenant. When we think of the Nation of Israel, we tend to forget those who were grafted in as they came through Canaan. Israel’s faith was opened to converts, such as Rahab, and outsiders who desired to know God. God’s love is not for one group. God’s love has always included any individual who wants to enter a relationship with Him.

We can trust that God forgives those who repent. His presence never leaves us. Second, we can continue inviting others to be a part of our community, encouraging them to graft into the True Vine by experiencing salvation in Jesus Christ.  

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
I put my trust in your mercy; my heart is joyful because of your saving help. — Psalm 13.5

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Joshua 8 (Listen – 5:55)
Psalm 139 (Listen – 2:26)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 – July 2021) that have challenged, comforted, and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Read more about Between Gerizim and Ebal
God does not abandon us to the curses we choose. Jesus took the curses of Ebal and he brings to us the blessings of Gerizim.