Giving attention to that which is significant to our mission and cultural engagement, the next major point of the biblical story is that of Israel’s entry into the land of Canaan. As we know, this was the land that was promised to them. Canaan was to be their new home. The act of claiming this land, however, would call for an immediate adjustment to their pilgrim practices of cultural engagement. No longer were they to think of themselves as a pilgrim people. Rather, under their great military leader, Joshua, they were to be viewed as a holy and theocratic army.
It is important to note the biblical story’s progression in connection to the theme we have already started to consider; as soon as this covenant community enter the land (promised to them by God) their paradigm for cultural engagement changes. Where before this issue had been regulated by ‘a pilgrim principle‘, now (as they once again fall under God’s geo-politically dimensioned rule) they are under a theocratic principle–or ‘land principle’.
If not before, the effect of this principle is clearly noted as they receive their commission to drive the Canaanites out of the land, and thereafter, to maintain a complete separation from them. This is, of course, very different to that which we have already observed of the patriarchal community under Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cf. Joseph in Egypt).
With this change of paradigm noted, in the next post we’ll discuss why it is significant in terms of the greater story, and of course, our own mission as the church.