Summary: 12th in long series on Joshua. This deals with sin in a believer’s life, which will cost him spiritual victory.
Joshua 7:1-26 – Here Comes Trouble
Today we continue our journey through Joshua. The whole book is about taking new territory. As Christians, God leads us on a journey, a walk into new places. Some people never get out and stretch their spiritual legs. They are still the same people as they were ages ago, and they still do all the same stuff. They never try to increase their prayer life. They never try to increase their Bible reading intake. They never read a new book about spiritual things. They are still very much the same. They have stagnated.
Last week we saw how Joshua and the Israelites conquered the massive city of Jericho. But there was a problem. God told the Israelites to keep the valuables, putting them in the Lord’s treasury, and to destroy everything else. Well, one man disobeyed, and the consequences were pretty severe. Let me say: sin will cost you spiritual victory. Let’s read 7:1-26.
Joshua thought that they had been doing quite well. The river was crossed, the city of Jericho was taken, and no casualties yet. He thought he was doing quite well in this leadership thing. He thought he knew what to do, and he thought he was doing it well. You can almost see a swelling head growing on top of his shoulders. Kind of like when we think we’ve got a situation under control.
But then, something happened. He said, “Let’s take a small army and do this thing!” But the Israelites got routed. The men of Ai defeated them soundly, to the point that the hearts of the Israelites melted like water. Here was Jericho, bigger than Ai, beaten easily. But then, here was Ai, beating them.
Well, this drove Joshua to his knees. He went off into the desert to spend time with His commander-in-chief in prayer. And what God revealed to him that day, he likely never forgot again. It was a turning point for the children of Israel, and it would be a turning point for us in our faith journeys. Let’s look to see what God did that day.
Well, before that, what Joshua did was pretty important too. He realized that there had been a loss. We need to realize it, too, when we lose. When we fail and drop. When we miss out and mess up. When we don’t have what we used to have. What Joshua did is what we need to do too. When we suffer a loss in our spiritual lives, we need to go to God in prayer. But, as we shall see, that is certainly not the end of it.
So Joshua prayed. But he listened too. He laid out his complaint before the Lord. He said, “What on earth were You thinking when You brought us out here?” He questioned God’s wisdom in bringing the Israelites to Canaan in the first place. He was brutally honest with God.
Before I go any further in the story, I must say, losing 36 out of 3000 isn’t a huge number. If you were in a war, and you lost 36, about 1% of your troops, you would not be devastated. The cost of war is high. But the loss crushed them because they knew they could do better.
And you know, picking up the pieces after a failure is often harder than the failure itself. The thoughts of, “Why, oh why, did I do that? I know better.” The thoughts of, “I thought this issue was taken care of.” The thoughts of, “How do I pick up the pieces and move on from here?” The self-inflicted guilt is worse than conviction. Conviction comes from the Lord, and wants us to come back. Guilt comes from Satan, and wants to keep us from praying and seeking forgiveness.
So Joshua was having a hard time with his emotions on this, and was letting God know it. Now, I have to say, without being disrespectful, it’s OK to yell at God. I didn’t say curse Him. I didn’t say cover up your feelings, either. I really think it’s OK to be honest with Him. Tell Him how you feel. Let Him know that things don’t look too good from where you’re sitting. Pour out your heart. Don’t be too afraid if what you’re saying sounds like bad theology. Just spill it out. He’s certainly big enough to handle it.
But what makes Joshua different from atheists, say, turned off from God because they don’t like what He does, Joshua stuck around long enough to listen for an answer. I’m not saying that God will always give you an answer. He won’t solve all the issues in life, like, “Why did he/she have to die?” But if there’s something He wants you to do about it, He’ll let you know. And that’s what He did for Joshua.