Summary: Personal sin does not effect you alone, it effects many more people, including innocent people, family, church, nation.


I doubt that there is anyone here who doesn’t want to succeed in some way or fashion. If there was someone like that, I’d be suspicious. I would have to think hard about becoming good friends with someone who wouldn’t want to succeed. However, there is a danger in success. It’s easy for success to breed carelessness. When things are on a roll, it’s so natural and effortless to slip into an attitude that we can handle things in our own strength and abilities and leave behind our trust and dependence on God.

I have found that trouble most often leads us to the Lord. When things are bad, when we’ve made a mess of things, when things have overwhelmed us and are out of control, when we’ve reached the end of our rope, our own abilities, that’s when we finally give God a try. That’s when we say, “God help! I can’t do this on my own!” It’s sad that God has to allow difficult and even bad things to come into our lives to get us back on the right track where we should be. Wouldn’t it be great if we would learn to stay totally dependent on Him even in the successes?

I’ve often said that it takes a higher level of spiritual maturity to experience success, wealth and health and yet stay totally dependent on God. It takes a higher level of spiritual maturity to live (not just know) in a way that realizes that all these things can be gone in a blink of an eye. I have found that not many can live at that level yet I believe God is looking for those types of individuals that He can trust; for those type of individuals that are desperate for their God despite their success.

Let’s take a moment and focus on the Children of Israel during a time of consecutive successes. In the early chapters of Joshua, they experience miracle after miracle. They had conquered their enemies east of the Jordan River. God gave them a miraculous crossing of the Jordan. They had gone up against the most powerful fortified city in the region – Jericho – and conquered it in the most unusual manner. We all know the story. As a matter of fact, I can hear the song in my mind right now, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho…” But can you imagine being one of his commanders when Joshua explained how they were going to take it? We are going to walk around it each day for six days and no one is to say a peep. On the seventh day, we’ll walk around it seven times and only on the seventh time will we blow the trumpets and shout.” I just got to think that there was one of his officers thinking or saying, “And plan ‘B’ is?” “There’s no plan ‘B.’” It went just as Joshua said it would.

In the 1950’s, British archaeologist, Kathleen Kenyon had some serious doubts about the biblical account of Jericho’s fall and did some extensive excavations there. She found that the city had suffered a quick devastation with grain left in large jars in storage areas. She also noted that the city had been burned. However, because she dated the time as early or mid Bronze Age, it couldn’t have been the Israelites.

In 1997, an Italian team excavated the site and found that it was late Bronze Age, exactly during the time of the Israelite invasion. They also found that the walls were basically two parts, a thick base wall of stone about 12 to 15 feet high, then a mud brick wall extending 20 – 26 feet high on top of the base wall. What they found was that the mud bricks fell outward in a big heap providing a ramp for the Israelite army to run right up and over. Interestingly, on the north side of the city, the walls with the houses built into the walls were still intact; just as the Bible describes in every detail.

This string of victories put fear in the Canaanite people. Fear paralyzes and debilitates. They heard about these miraculous victories and it took the fight right out of them. On the flip side, it gave the Israelites confidence. Confidence is a good thing as long as we remember that we are always totally dependant on God.

After the Jericho victory, the next challenge was this small town called Ai. Joshua 7:3, the spies told Joshua they didn’t need the whole army, only about 2 – 3000 men and they would go over and take care of them. Joshua says okay to this and they head over and get routed, 36 Israelite men are killed. This is where we want to pay close attention to this story. With this defeat, it sets in motion a sequence of events that compound the problem:

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