Summary: 1.) God forgives sin. 2.) God judges sin. 3.) He allows us to choose: Pardon or Punishment - God gave both Jericho and Ai to Israel, but He did it in very different ways. Link inc. to formatted text, audio & video, PowerPoint.
The Valley of Decision
[read vv. 1-3]
The children of Israel are in the process of claiming their Canaan, or Promised Land. But their biggest challenge is that people already live there, and they are wicked. God has given them claim to this land, but they have to drive these people out of it, or kill them. One city at a time.
They have already had the great victory at Jericho. But then last week we saw them utterly defeated at Ai because of sin in the camp. [Achan]
They repented of their sin and now God tells them to go back to Ai and take it by ambush.
Let me sum up the rest of the chapter: Joshua took about 30k soldiers to the mountains behind Ai. He took the rest out in front so the people of the city could see them. When they came out of the city to make war the city was left undefended...and those 30k from the mountains entered in the back way and burned and destroyed it. When the Ai people tried to go back and defend it they got caught in the middle of a ‘pincer movement,’ a military strategy still used today.
Notice: God gave both Jericho and Ai to Israel, but He did it in 2 totally different ways. The methods of God often change. His character, nature, and His message never change, but His methods do, and so should ours in our changing world!
Some Christians get all bent out of shape if their church doesn’t still do everything the way it was done when they were younger. But what is important is not HOW God works, but THAT He works. We want to see Him move and work, Amen? Like Paul said,
I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
Ill.--One reason our internet ministry has become so successful is because few in our circles were willing to try it. It’s not that my sermons were so good as much as it was about all there was to choose from!
“We never did it that way before!” That is a rut we need to keep God’s machine out of.
Jesus opened blinded eyes...but in different ways. One man he rubbed mud upon the eyes, [“Here’s mud in your eye!”] another man he spit upon them. Another he simply touched and he began to see.
Imagine these 3 in a testimony meeting as each one claims to know how God heals. “It’s this way, no you heretic, it is this way!” If these 3 guys were Baptists they would have split into 3 new denominations: the Spittites, the Muddites, and the Touchites.
God’s methods change, but His character and nature do not.
Here’s 3 elements of God’s character from Joshua 8:
1. He forgives sin.
7:26b Aren’t you thankful that He’s a God of the second chance, and third and fourth?! In God’s economy, failure is not final...
• Not for Moses when he got in the flesh and killed the Egyptian.
• Not for David when he committed adultery.
• Not for Peter when he cursed and denied Christ.
God longs to forgive and forget, but we must first turn to Him in confession and repentance.
Ill.—little boy and his sister went to grandpa’s farm for the summer. The boy started playing w/ a slingshot, hitting tin cans and such. One day he aimed it at a goose and knocked it over, dead! He tried to bury it and cover it over w/ leaves, and he thought he got away with it, but he turned around and there was his sister. She said, you killed grandma’s goose and I’m gonna tell her. “No, don’t”. She said, here’s the deal, I won’t tell, but you’re gonna do whatever I tell you the rest of the summer. She made his life miserable, having to do all her chores. At nighttime she would get his dessert.
It was brutal, and he finally cracked. He flung himself in grandma’s lap and said I’m so sorry, I have to tell you that I killed your goose. “I know.” How do you know? “I saw thru the window.” He asked her, why didn’t you tell me? “I was waiting for you to come and tell me.”
We don’t confess our sins in order to inform God of them. He already knows all about them. But we need to level with Him about our sins and be accountable. He is the Creator and we are the creation who often chooses to do wrong. But when we do, praise God, it’s in His nature to forgive!
God isn’t finished with you any more than He was finished w/ Moses, David, or Peter! And don’t use past failure as an excuse not to serve God today. No looking back!