Challenging Passages

As believers, we are to daily read God’s Word and read every part of it because God has given every word of it for our good. As a result, throughout the year we will find ourselves in the Psalms or Matthew or Hosea or Jude. Some of these books are more difficult to read than others, however, and some contain incredibly challenging passages to interpret.

Joshua 6 is a familiar story about Joshua and the battle of Jericho, and it details how God used Joshua and the people of Israel to take down the city. The ending contains some difficult verses to stomach. Joshua 6:17a says “And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction.” Joshua 6:21 shows this playing out when it says, “then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.”
The vivid imagery described here of slaughter and bloodshed can lead to confusion and questioning as to why God, through Joshua, would command his people to brutally kill and wipeout an entire city. Questions such as these have long perplexed believers and nonbelievers alike and led many to become angry with God Himself. This is not comprehensive by any means but I want to give you some helpful tips to understand challenging passages.


1. Keep in mind God’s nature
In Exodus 34:6-7, Yahweh passes by Moses and reveals His nature to him.
The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.
This verse shows us that the Lord is both merciful and just. He is both of these things to the fullest extent. As a result, we should not be surprised when we see instances in Scripture of both of these things. It would be wrong to put God in a box and think of Him as acting in just one way.

2. Trust Scripture
2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
Since this verse is true, it means that even the most difficult of stories and passages are for our good and to train us in righteousness. It may not always be apparent in the moment, but we can trust God’s Word always, even the hard to grasp parts.

3. Remember God’s Redemptive Work
In God’s working through Israel, the people of Jericho are not innocent. In fact, they are enemies of Yahweh and His chosen people. The people of Jericho were sinful who worshipped idols and pagan gods. They stood in opposition to the true God who had promised Canaan for His people.
The Sovereign Lord had every right to punish those who stand in His way and refuse to bow their knee before Him.

The Bible has challenging texts so it’s important than when we come across them, we return to these principles so we can know how to approach them. God has given us His Word to give us confidence, not fear and doubt, so let us read it with joy and diligent study!
Pastor Chris Williams
To learn more about Pastor Chris and his teaching, visit us on the web at  and make sure you subscribe to receive these biweekly encouragements in your inbox.




no categories


no tags