Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Joshua continued...
When it comes to prayer, there are three possible outcomes. The first possible outcome is that God answers the prayer immediately, the second that He delays in answering our prayer, and the third, is that He chooses not to answer at all, or rejects it. Yes, God can say no to our prayers, and though it is difficult for us as individuals every time He does so, we must rest in the knowledge that He knows best.
We have examples of each of these outcomes within the pages of Scripture, and as we progress and continue with our series, we will see these outcomes as self-evident. I mention this because I’ve heard it said by men who many would consider our spiritual betters, that God is mandated to answer every prayer we pray, and if He doesn’t do so the first time, well, then we try, try again until we somehow manage to twist His arm into doing our bidding.
Not only is this wrong, it is unscriptural, and there are countless souls today praying for things which are not in accordance with God’s will, and growing frustrated because God isn’t answering them even though the man with the shiny teeth on television told them God must.
Misconception and a skewed understanding of Biblical principles, as well as fundamental doctrines of the faith, create skewed believers whose priorities and ideals are in direct opposition to what the word of God says our principles and ideals as children of God ought to be.
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, the fact remains that God can say ‘no’ to us and deny us something we really wanted, because He knows it would do us more harm than good. I realize full well that some individuals have never been denied anything in their lives so the concept of God denying them something is anathema to them, but nevertheless, it happens, and with great regularity.
On a tangentially related side note, it’s the children whom the parents never uttered ‘no’ to in their adolescence who end up some of the most shipwrecked and hopeless souls walking the planet today. You see it in what many like to refer to as former child stars that grow up and realize the world is not their oyster, and that they really can’t have everything they ever wanted, to children from well-to-do families, for whom parenting and discipline were abstract notions that did not directly impact them.
Being said no to from time to time, is healthy and necessary. God knows this better than we can ever hope to, and this is why, when the situation warrants it, He tells us no.
Having been a soldier all his life, Joshua knew how to follow orders. As such, he also knew to accept being denied, or being said no to, whether by Moses, his direct superior for much of his life, or by God, his superior’s superior.
Because of his faithfulness and obedience, Joshua was one of two individuals to have left Egypt, and likewise entered the Promised Land.
An entire nation had left Egypt, an entire nation had crossed the Red Sea, yet because they did not believe, because they doubted, and gave their hearts to idols, everyone except for Joshua and Caleb died in the desert, on their way to the Promised Land.
A journey that ought to have taken forty days, ended up taking forty years, because only those pure of heart are received into God’s promise.
Throughout this protracted journey Joshua learned to follow, but he also learned to lead. Trusting in the arm of the Lord, and being obedient in all things, Joshua wracks up some stunning victories, going so far as to take Jericho, a city that had been securely shut up, and considered impregnable.
All who had been present knew the conquest of Jericho was the Lord’s doing. They had seen the wall fall down flat before them, yet even after seeing God supernaturally bring down the wall of Jericho, and being told with specificity to keep themselves from the accursed things, there was one who transgressed and disobeyed.
What we will come to understand shortly, and this important because of how God views a nation or a people, is that although one man sinned, God considered that the whole of Israel had sinned against Him.
As usual however, I get ahead of myself.
Jericho had been vanquished, the city and all that was in it burned with fire except for the silver, gold, and vessels of bronze and iron which had been put into the treasury of the house of the Lord, and Israel with Joshua at the forefront set its sights on Ai, a far smaller town than the one they had just conquered.
At first, as was his custom, Joshua ever the warrior, sent spies to Ai to gauge their strengths, their weaknesses, and see how difficult they would be to vanquish. From a military tactic standpoint this was sound practice, but what Joshua could not know, and what his spies could not foresee was the fact that the anger of the Lord had burned against the children of Israel because one among them had committed a trespass regarding the accursed things.
As spies, men trained to observe, record, and report that which they had seen, the men came back and reported to Joshua that the people of Ai were few, and it would not be productive to bring all the people against them. In their estimation, three thousand men would be more than enough to vanquish Ai, and take yet another city.
Wisdom would dictate that we see the spiritual component in this event, and realize that there is more than meets the eye to certain things. What we might deem as irrelevant or readily scalable often times turns into a protracted nightmare, because we did not bother to see the problem through the prism of the spiritual, but only the prism of the physical.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.