Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Joshua continued...
As per the advice of his men Joshua sent a contingent of three thousand, fully expecting to have them return victorious. As is often the case, we are all the more affected by a certain event in our lives, when we expected the complete opposite to transpire.
If I go on a diet for two weeks, and instead of dropping a few pounds the scale shows me that I’ve gained a couple, because I expected the diametrically opposite result than what I got, I will be all the more disappointed and upset.
I mention this, because some learned men and theologians can’t seem to wrap their minds around why it was that Joshua became so distraught, going so far as to tear his clothes and fall to the floor.
Joshua had expected an unmitigated victory, and what he got instead was an unmitigated defeat. This is the reason he was so upset, and why his reaction to having lost a battle seemed so out of place, especially for one who was used to battle, and to seeing the dead and the wounded.
The handful of souls at Ai, those of whom his own spies said were unworthy of the entire army but only a small contingent thereof, put the three thousand seasoned warriors Joshua had sent to flight.
Not only did Joshua’s soldiers flee from before the men of Ai, the men of Ai proceeded to chase them from before the gate as far as Shebarim.
Although the distance from the gates of Ai to Shebarim is unknown, what is known is that the attacking force retreated, and those who had been on the defensive, went on the offensive and gave chase, striking Israel’s army as it fled.
It is one thing to send unseasoned men into battle and have their hearts melt and become like water, it’s quite another to see seasoned soldiers act in such a manner.
Having seen battle before, the fear Joshua’s soldiers felt was not a natural fear, but one that had been put there by God, because His anger burned hot against the people for their transgression. You could have a bigger army, be better equipped, have the tactical advantage, be seasoned in warfare, and still flee from before a smaller, less equipped, and less experienced foe if God is not on your side.
No matter the circumstance, no matter the situation, it is God who gives the victory.
It is the same with every nation, throughout every generation, wherein we witness certain key moments, and can only conclude that the hand of God was at work, and a sovereign, supernatural intervention took place.
One can likewise frequently observe that when the nation to which God gave victory begins to beat its metaphorical chest and take the credit for something God did, or disavow itself of God altogether, He removes His hand of blessing and protection, showing them the futility of their machinations when His aid is no longer present.
It is a horribly sinking feeling to realize that having done everything right, as far as human reason is concerned, things could not have possibly turned out any worse in your endeavor. The wise among us recognize the hand of God, search their hearts, and repent, while the proud and foolish among us shake their fists at Him in the ultimate show of futility, blaming Him for what they forced Him to do.
As individuals and as a people, we reap what we sow, and if we have sown rebellion, disobedience, hedonism, perversion, and vanity we will reap the burning anger of the Lord against us.
News of Israel’s defeat reached Joshua, and recognizing the hand of God in what had just transpired, Joshua went before the Lord. Joshua did not approach the Lord attempting to justify the people’s rebellion, nor did he ask God for an explanation as to why the people had been defeated. He came before God in humility and brokenness, knowing the justice of God, and realizing God does nothing without ample cause.
Joshua 7:6, “Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.”
Considering that as yet Joshua did not know that the children of Israel had committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, and knowing himself to have been faithful to God both in the small things and the great ones, one can’t help but wonder what was going through his mind as he heard of Israel’s defeat.
It is one thing to know ourselves as having been guilty of something, having done something to transgress or displease God, but to know oneself innocent of evil, innocent of guile or sin, and still see the hand of God pressing down with severity, is something simultaneously humbling and vexing.
All Joshua knew was that his army had been defeated when all the evidence pointed to an easy victory. All he knew was that the hearts of his soldiers had melted and became like water, but as yet he did not know the reason for this.
Even so, both Joshua, and the elders of Israel fell to the earth on their faces before the ark of the Lord, and put dust on their heads.
Little is spoken about the sovereignty of God nowadays, because we like to think ourselves masters of our own destiny. Because we have removed the notion of sovereignty from the attributes of God, whenever something unexpected happens, rather than falling on our faces before Him, humbling ourselves, and crying out, we react instinctively, becoming indignant and proceed to go about trying to convince God that He got it wrong.
Rather than humbly asking God to show us why He had to do what He did, we attempt to fault God, and justify our actions, concluding that His correction was too harsh and unloving.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.