Summary: Message 11 in our journey with Joshua into the Promised Land. This message explores principles leaned from Israel's eventual victory over Ai after a humiliating defeat.
Joshua Series #11
The Amazing Race to Rest & Reward
“Failure: the Backdoor to Victory”
We have been following the trail of the new generation of Israelites all under 40 except for two old guys, Joshua and Caleb. All the rest died in the 40 year wandering in the wilderness because they failed to believe God’s promises to give them a land of their own. Only Joshua and Caleb entered the land because they filed the faith filled minority report. It just so happened that their report was the right one. We rejoiced at the miraculous dry land crossing of the Jordan River overflowing its banks. We marveled at the destruction of one of the major cities currently occupying the Land. Jericho was supernaturally destroyed because Joshua of listened, trusted and obeyed God. That is the key to every victory in the purging process.
When they waited on God and trusted Him – God blessed with victory. When they failed to wait for God’s instructions and trusted in themselves – they fell to defeat. Because Jericho was the first of many fights, God demanded all of the spoil to go to Him. The first fruits offering served to remind them that technically all the spoils belong to Him. Unfortunately one of the soldiers got greedy and took some of the spoils for himself and his family. God considered the act as robbing Him of what rightfully belonged to Him. His actions brought defeat for the whole community. They were routed by Ai and lost 36 soldiers in what should have been an easy victory. They had become self-sufficient and proud after the Jericho victory. They did not wait for God’s instructions and His characteristic promise to defeat the enemy.
Now they are demoralized and disheartened. Joshua, their leader, is also knocked off track as he blames God for their defeat and assumes God has abandoned them to destruction. The issue was disobedience in the form of robbing God. We made certain applications to us today.
One person’s disobedience can affect the whole church. A primary application to us today has to do with first fruits. Failing to offer the first fruits of our financial resources is robbery. I want to make it clear that nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to give ten percent of our income. The reality is that in the period of grace God may ask for more. The principle of New Testament giving is proportionate, sacrificial and as one purposes in their heart.
There are great blessings promised by God for regular giving.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine. Proverbs 3:7-10
There are also corresponding consequences for not giving regularly. Money is not the only thing that belongs to God that we need to be careful to offer. Time, worship, our bodies, our family, credit, glory. There are consequences anytime we take for ourselves what rightfully belongs to God. We are only stewards of God’s resources. Faithful steward invest those resources in kingdom purposes rather than personal pleasure. How would you feel if your investment broker cashed in your retirement funds to buy a boat? What if we haven’t been faithful? The first step is to confess our sin to God. James is clear about the procedure if things are not going well because of our failure.
Is anyone among you weak? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:14-16
The word for “weak” means to be without strength it applies to physical weakness, spiritual weakness, emotional weakness, weak in faith and demonic influence. These are obviously because of failure because we are called to confess our sin. Everyone has experienced failure.
Many carry the scars of failure to make the right choices all of their lives. Many have an abundance of graphic exhibits on display in their hall of shame. Satan is insistent that we live there. God urges a periodic visit to remember how much we need him but advises us not to live there. He had the Israelites construct a monument not just to remember the victories but also the failures.