Power in Obedience

Joshua 7: 5              NIV

And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water.

So to recap, Joshua is in charge of the nation of Israel. They have crossed over the Jordan River by a miracle of God and enjoyed a supernatural victory over Jericho. Jericho was a strong and fortified city but the Israelites took it without a struggle. Now they have gone up against a small town called Ai. Joshua’s advisors told him that he only needed to send up two or three thousand men because the enemy was few. So Joshua sent up about three thousand men but the text says, “They were routed by the men of Ai” (v. 4). So what has happened here?

After the defeat of Jericho, God gave the Israelites specific instructions regarding the disposition of the spoils of war. Some of the spoils they were allowed to keep but other material was designated for the treasury of God. After the defeat at Ai, Joshua fell on his face before the Lord perplexed at how a small band of men could defeat the nation that took Jericho so easily. Wouldn’t you know, when the army of the Lord entered Jericho some of the men took what belonged to the Lord and kept if for themselves. There they sealed their fate.

This would be an appropriate place to talk about the tithe and stealing from God but there is another facet of this behavior worth considering also. Our behaviors, our hearts condemn us. It is hard to receive from God when your heart tells you that you don’t deserve His mercies and kindness. One might argue in one’s mind that the benefits of being a child of God still accrue to them but their heart will not allow them to receive. True, God still loves us, Jesus still died for us but we separate ourselves from God because of the guilt and shame in our heart of hearts.  

If there is any sin keeping you from full fellowship with the Lord of Grace simply confess it and pour the blood of Jesus over it. You never have to feel guilt over it again. But make sure you renounce it and turn away from it too. You are made clean in the blood of the lamb and in Jesus you can and should enjoy the fullness of the abundant life. Be filled with the loving grace and mercy of our Lord.

God’s Logic

Joshua 6: 2                 NIV

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”

Score massive points for Joshua. Not only did He register that God had spoken these instructions but he also followed them to the letter. I am glad for Israel that I was not the leader of the nation because I would probably still be sitting there saying, “That can’t be God.”

Sometimes we need to follow the Lord in spite of logic because His instructions do not always make sense to our mortal minds but they will deliver wonders and victory when we follow Him. You know the rest of the story. The priests, on the seventh day, blew the long blast on the trumpet during the Israelites’ seventh circuit around Jericho, the people shouted when they heard the blast and, as the song says, the walls came tumbling down. The soldiers did not have to file through a few gates but rather each person just walked straight up and they took the city with ease.

What do you think distinguishes Joshua from those of us who would have questioned the logic of God’s battle plans? Can you picture Joshua arousing this great multitude of people and getting them to march around the walled city of Jericho for seven consecutive days? He must have been very sure that he had heard from God. If you knew beyond all doubt that God spoke specific directions to you wouldn’t you also find the strength and courage to follow His instructions to the “T” just like Joshua?

In all the years that Joshua followed Moses one surmises that Joshua witnessed what was necessary in order to lead the nation of Israel. He must have observed Moses fellowshipping with the Lord and learned how to separate himself from the fray of everyday life so that he could hear the Word of the Lord. I am also reminded of the advice the Lord gave Joshua when he took Moses’ position. God’s sage advice was two-fold. First, be strong and courageous and second, do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth but rather meditate on it day and night being careful to do all contained therein (Joshua 3: 8 – 9).

In conclusion, having walled cities, or any other challenge for that matter, crumble at your feet comes from precisely obeying the Lord’s instructions. We can only have faith and confidence in those oft times seemingly illogical, nonsensical directions when we know beyond doubt that we have heard the voice of the Lord. That kind of confidence and faith comes only from fellowship with the Lord and in His word but fellowship in the Word and in the presence of the Lord yields the bold courage that frees one to follow uncharted paths, it emboldens the heart to do all that the Lord has spoken and it sees obedient zeal in place of questioning critical thought. It gives an ordinary human being the fortitude to do that which seems unreasonable to the human mind and to do such in confidant assurance of the prize.

So if what God is telling you does not seem to make good sense to your logic center, rejoice. You have joined very good company for no one who has ever done anything great for the Lord has not had to face the same fears, doubt and indecision. Just get alone with your Father and let Him confirm His will to you and don’t worry if His logic doesn’t agree with the world’s. That is where the fun begins.