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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 27

Prayers of Confession continued...

Prayers of confession must also be prayed in a timely manner. Although when it comes to such things as exercise, eating right, or getting your high school equivalency diploma late is better than never, when it comes to prayers of confession, the timeliness of the act is of great import. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is biblical precedent for my statement.

Shortly after an astounding victory at Jericho, Joshua sent a contingent of his army to a place called Ai, a city far smaller and with fewer defenses than those of Jericho. For Joshua, and for his generals, victory against Ai and its people was a foregone conclusion. Two or three thousand men went up to Ai, all battle hardened soldiers, fresh off their victory at Jericho, but as they approached the city, the men of Ai came out to do battle and the army of Israel fled from before them.

No, Joshua didn’t send out three thousand unseasoned men, he didn’t send out men who had not seen battle, he sent soldiers, warriors, men accustomed to steel and blood and conflict.

The only way these men’s hearts could have melted and become like water, was if their fear was God breathed.

There was a reason the people of Israel did not obtain victory at Ai, and the word of God tells us what that reason was, even before it tells us of their great defeat.

Joshua 7:1, “But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.”

God had commanded the people of Israel not to take the accursed things, not to plunder or hoard for themselves the riches of those they vanquished, yet this man named Achan disobeyed God.

Although we can get into a discussion as to how an entire nation suffered due to one man’s transgression, the point of this teaching is biblically proving that there are instances when it’s just too late for the act of confession.

After God spoke to Joshua, informing him that Israel would have no victories until the accursed thing was destroyed from the midst of the camp, he rose early in the morning and brought Israel by their tribes before him.

Each tribe presented itself before Joshua, divided further by each family of each tribe, until finally Achan was likewise brought before him.

Joshua 7:19-21, “So Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, I beg you, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.’ And Achan answered Joshua and said, ‘Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: ‘When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.’”

If when we confess a certain trespass is not an issue, then this should have been the end of the story with Achan. He confessed as to what he had taken, he confessed to the fact that he had coveted the garment and the silver and the gold, and even where he had hidden that which he had taken.

Although he confessed, forgiveness could not be afforded to Achan.

If he would have come to Joshua sooner, if he would have confessed his trespass before it was too late, he would have been forgiven and restored, but he only confessed because he had been found out, and had no other recourse but to own up to what he had done.

We’ve seen it often enough in our day and age, wherein an evangelist or preacher gets exposed for some lurid perversion, and goes on to confess only after they’ve been exposed and thoroughly shamed. That isn’t really confession. If anything, for most of them it’s just an issue of damage control. A true prayer of confession elicits true repentance. It’s not just saying sorry, or apologizing to those who we failed, it is turning from our transgression, never to revisit it again.

Achan’s confession, although thorough, was too late in coming, and he paid the price for his transgression.

Joshua 7:24-25, “Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, ‘why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.’ So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.”

If something is weighing on your heart, if the Holy Spirit is speaking to you about something in your life that you need to confess and repent of, don’t put it off. Do not delay coming before God with prayers of confession thinking that as long as no one finds out, you can keep doing whatever it is God has been convicting you of, because He is searching your heart for a purpose, desiring that you come before Him with repentance of heart before it’s too late.

Life is a fragile fleeting thing, a vapor that appears and ends within a breath’s span. It is both foolish and self-destructive to put off confession and repentance thinking to ourselves that if we don’t get around to it today, there’s always tomorrow. Every day there are countless souls for whom tomorrow never comes, who stand before God with sin for which they have no excuse, simply because they delayed repentance, and kept putting off coming before God with prayers of confession until it was too late.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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