It always strikes me as interesting, when I write something meant for the collective, yet every individual perceives a certain line in an article, or a certain observation is speaking directly to them. I find it interesting, because not all are drawn to the same passage, or the same sentence, each one gleaning what is necessary for their spiritual growth. Although I write for the collective, for the body of Christ, God speaks to the individual, and I am humbled when i get e-mails and comments, which state that a certain passage spoke to them individually.
I realize this has been a somewhat longer study, in hindsight I probably should have posted it on the Hand of Help website, but since you can't 'unring' a bell, I will post the final installment of this teaching today.
If we analyze the Word in regards to this scripture, we come to realize that Joshua had merely repeated what he had done in regards to Jericho, sending in spies to survey the land, and to get an idea of the strength of the enemy. While his first scouts were sent by the will of God, this same act has now become a purely human action, a reaction of the flesh.
Why would I say such a thing? Because when the first spies returned from Jericho, they said to Joshua, 'Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.'
If the Lord had already delivered all the land into their hands, why send scouts out again, why send spies to Ai, for it was part of the same nation as Jericho?
In some measure, whether great or small we cannot know, it seems Joshua had forgotten dependence on God, and began to trust in the strength of his army and his mighty men. Joshua found an excuse to trust in the flesh rather than God.
Since the old adage, 'as the head goes so does the body' held true even then, Joshua's warriors began to trust in themselves and in their own strength as well. Surely if such a famed city as Jericho had been so easy to overtake, the few men of Ai would be no problem at all. Why bring all the people, when a fraction of us will suffice? Two or three thousand men, they thought to themselves, and it will be quick work, another city conquered, vanquished and overtaken.
There was one other thing working against the people of Israel, not merely their self reliance, or self dependence. In a nondescript tent, a man by the name of Achan was busy burying a Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, some of those accursed things, which God had warned they should not touch, believing that no one would know, no one would see, and no one would be the wiser. The garment had been so beautiful, the silver so tempting, the gold so shiny, surely it won't harm anyone, and surely God is reasonable, and loving, and understanding. 'Yes, yes, I remember something about slow to anger too, no worries, but just in case, I'll bury them for a season, just to make sure', Achan thought.
God had cursed the city of Jericho, and by association everything within its walls. All but Achan were afraid to touch the forbidden things, the accursed things, for fear of bringing the wrath of God upon Israel, but Achan saw, and he desired, he coveted the possessions of the accursed city, though he knew in his hear the was not supposed to. The temptation was too great, perhaps if it was just the garment, or just the silver, but all three, in one place, Achan couldn't resist, he saw, he coveted, and he couldn't turn away, giving in to his desires. He did not consider the ramifications of his disobedience, all he saw before him were the garments that he would wear so haughtily, the silver and the gold that would fulfill his desire, the man he would become once all these were his, not realizing he was nothing more than a slave of his flesh.
The sin of one man has now influenced the outcome of an entire nation, as well as the attack on the city of Ai. The disobedience of one, compounded by the pride of the many, has now caused the mighty warriors of Israel to flee in fear from the handful of men protecting Ai.
Sometimes it takes a crushing defeat to remind us of humility, of righteousness, of sanctification, and of Christ. Sometimes it takes a seemingly inconsequential event, which snowballs into an ever-growing monster, to bring us to our knees, to cause us to seek the face of God.
Joshua had finally seen, even though it had taken a defeat at Ai, he had finally seen the error of his way, and tearing his clothes, fell to the earth on his face, before the ark of the Lord until evening, both he and the elders of Israel, putting dust on their heads.
Where was the ark of the Lord during their battle with the citizens of Ai, this ark before which the cities of Jericho had fallen? Too often we live with the expectation of victory, even though we left God behind, somewhere along the way. If God does not go before us, our defeat is guaranteed, even if the obstacle before us seems more like a nuisance than a real obstacle.
Joshua finally acknowledges the ark's worth, but even so, his reaction at Israel's defeat is questionable and shows weakness.
Joshua 7:7, "And Joshua said, 'Alas Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all - to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan!"
This blessed place, this promised land, is the only place that Joshua desired to flee from, lamenting that Israel should have been content and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan. What preoccupies Joshua now, is not the will of God, or why Israel was allowed to be defeated, but rather the name of Israel, what he would do when Israel turns its back before its enemies, the Canaanites, and at long last God's great name.
Too often we are preoccupied with our own image, too often we are preoccupied with what people will think of us, or how we will be viewed by others, rather than search our hearts and discover what it is that God desires us to burn, or what area in our lives does not bring glory to His name.
God's command today, is the same as it was for the people of Israel during Joshua's time, to sanctify ourselves before Him, to burn every wicked thing, to turn our back on the world and the things of the world, that we might have fellowship with Him.
The sin was discovered in the camp, Achan had taken that which was accursed, and only after those tings were burned, and Achan was stoned along with his family, did God relent form His righteous anger against His people.
The message of the hour, is to be merciless with the sin we discover in the camp, as well as in our own lives, to live in a continual desire of sanctification, and an ongoing process of purification toward God.
There is so much more that can be gleaned from the book of Joshua, wisdom and knowledge, direction for every soul, but for now I leave you with the grace and peace o four loving Father.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.