Summary: God’s people in our text found themselves; defeated, discouraged and hopeless. Our goal today - is to study these chapters and learn what we as God’s people need to do to turn our defeats around, to learn how to make a Comeback (real people true stories - part seven).
"Joshua; Coming Back...."
Real People - TRUE Stories Part 7
TEXT: JOSHUA 7 & 8
Every once in a while God’s people find themselves sliding down the dark corridor of defeat and failure. And when they do, 1 or 2 things usually happens - they either just keep on sliding down that dark shadowy passageway AND hit rock bottom OR, they turn their defeat around and make a comeback.....(I love comeback stories - when someone is up against the ropes and suddenly turns things around).
Perhaps one of the greatest examples of comebacks in recent years has been the comeback of San Francisco Giant pitcher Dave Dravecky. During his major league career Dave pitched in the All star game, in the national league championship series and in the World Series.
In 1988 doctors removed a cancerous growth in Dave’s pitching arm, he was left with little hope for a return to baseball. But doctors and trainers would watch in awe as God and a loving family gave him the courage and grace to mount one of the most amazing comebacks, the world of sports -- and an entire generation has ever witnessed.
On August 10th, 1989, a sell out crowd watched Dave breeze to a victory over the Cincinnati Reds, in his first major league game in over a year, during the game Dave received 12 standing ovations from the crowd.
Five days later, his still mending arm was broken as he pitched to Tim Raines in the bottom of the sixth. In his own words Dave said, "my arm felt like I’d been hit with a meat axe."
When a second lump was discovered and the arm that had helped Dave Dravecky reach the pinnacle of baseball success was amputated to stem the tide of cancer, he refused to give up or lose heart. Once again his faith in God pulled him from defeat to victory as Dave has used the story of his comebacks to share the message of Jesus Christ.
The Israelites needed a comeback, and they needed it bad. Their heads were still spinning from their defeat and they could not figure out why it had happened. After all they were the favorites , they were the ones who were expected to win. They had just survived 40 years in the wilderness, they had just crossed the Jordan on dry ground as the hand of God parted the waters, they had just won a decisive victory over the league’s defending champions - the powerful fortified city of Jericho.
They had gone 3 and 0 in the last few days and were confident that they were on a roll and that no one could stop them, especially the little city of Ai about 13 miles from Jericho. So they sent up a few of their best scouts to see what kind of opponent these people would be.
The next day they faxed Joshua the scouting and it said, "these guys are not going to be much of a problem, they don’t have any big hitters, their defense is shaky, their pitching is just ‘so-so’ -- I think we can shut them out."
The Israelites went in thinking easy victory and before they knew it they found themselves running for their lives. God’s people found themselves suffering a devastating defeat at the hands of their enemies and they were not quite sure why, and they certainly didn’t find the taste of defeat, too palatable.
As God’s people today, as the church, live their lives for the Lord, as they engage the enemy - in battle, they will not always find themselves standing in the winners circle or holding the trophy. Sometimes, God’s people find themselves, devastated, defeated and running from the enemy.
And as the newly defeated hold their head down and reflect, they ask themselves many questions, " We were doing so well, we were winning so many victories, we looked unstoppable, we were the favorites, we were 10 points ahead going into the final period - how could this happen, isn’t God on our side, how could we lose?"
God’s people in our text found themselves in just this position; defeated, discouraged and hopeless.
Our goal today - is to study these chapters and learn what we as God’s people need to do to turn our defeats around, to learn how to make a Comeback.
FIRST, WE MUST UNCOVER THE SOURCE OF DEFEAT
There were really three sources, three underlying causes to the Israelites defeat at Ai. And many times these same causes bring defeat to God’s people today.
"Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel and told them, ‘GO up and spy out the region.’ So the men went up and spied out Ai. When they returned to Joshua, they said, ‘NOT all the people will have to go, send 2 or 3,000 men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there.’ So about 3,000 men went up; BUT they were routed by the men of Ai....."