Summary: Five Principles for recovering from a spiritual defeat taken from Joshua’s victory over Ai.
A Study of Joshua
Sermon # 7
“Recovering From Defeat”
Joshua 8: 1-29
As we saw last week there is no failure or mistake that cannot be remedied through the grace of God. Even Achor the valley of trouble can be turned into a door of hope.
F.W. Robertson, the nineteenth-century British Bible teacher, pastor, and scholar (the author of Robertson’s New Testament Word Studies), taught for several years at Wake Forest University in North Carolina just before and during the American Civil War. He preached a series of messages in the chapel at Wake Forest just before the Civil War broke out, using the book of Joshua. The central theme of the series was that the issue is not whose side the Lord is on, but whether we are on the Lord’s side, as we saw when Joshua met the Lord face-to-face before the battle of Jericho. In a sermon he preached on August 12, 1849, he made this amazing statement, which ties in beautifully with what we’ll be looking at in chapter 8: "Life, like war, is a series of mistakes, and he is not the best Christian nor the best general who make the fewest false steps. Poor mediocrity may secure that; but he is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. Forget mistakes; organize victories out of mistakes." Joshua would have agreed, because in chapter 8 he allows the Lord to organize the victory out of his mistakes and failures. [As quoted by Doug Goins. Turning Defeat Into Victory. Joshua 8:1-35. Sermon Central.]
When we have made a mistake and suffered a defeat what we do is now up to us, we can live in that defeat or we can by God’s grace learn from it and go on. Though we should never seek to fail, failure can be a backdoor to success if we are willing to seek the forgiveness of God and deal with our sin in the way that God has prescribed. Five Secrets for Getting Back on Track After A Defeat.
1. To Get Back On Track We Need To Remember That God Never Forsakes His Children No Matter How They Fail Him (v. 1a) “Now the LORD said to Joshua: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed;…”
After we have sinned, the Devil loves to whisper in our ear, “You messed up big time and God can never use you again.” It is at just such a moment in Joshua’s life, following the humiliating defeat, God specifically reminded Joshua of his promise. I am sure that morale in the camp was at an all time low, and I am that Joshua was never more insecure of himself as a leader. It is reassuring to understand that God does not permanently withdraw His blessings when we fail Him.
2. To Get Back On Track We Need To Learn Not to Repeat the Same Mistakes
“ …take all the people of war with you,…” (v. 1b)
God’s word to Joshua was to use all of the fighting men of Israel, in other words this time take the whole army. Though the primary cause of defeat at Ai was Achan’s sin, a contributing factor was underestimating the enemy, overestimating themselves and presuming upon the power of the Lord.
How often do we get in trouble because we make the same mistake twice? To get on track we need to be willing to listen to God and obey fully.