Saturday, December 1, 2007

Of Victory and Defeat Part 2

Hebrews 12:30, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days."
Now we all know how the Bible defines faith, as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen, it is one of those verses that everyone seems to have memorized, but very few truly understand. faith is confidence, and implicit trust in something other than oneself, namely God. At the same time it is the complete absence of trust and confidence in oneself, or in one's flesh. These two notions must be symbiotic, the absence of confidence in flesh, and complete confidence in God, for our faith to be effective.
Faith is enough to make the walls to come crashing down. Faith is unconcerned with how high the walls might be, or how fortified the battlements, because it trusts in the power of God.
It is when our faith is in the wisdom of men, rather than the power of God, that we seem to be tilting at windmills in our spiritual walk, rather than confronting the darkness that threatens to overwhelm. We focus on distractions, rather than on Christ, and follow the words of mere mortals than the words of the eternal Creator of all. We keep laying siege to the walls of Jericho without seeing a crack in the fortifications, then wonder why we can make no progress, why the Promised Land is always beyond our reach, why the giants in the land seem bigger and meaner with every retelling of the story.
It is because we choose not to learn the lessons of those that came before us, that we often find ourselves stuck in the repetitive loop of lukewarm, and immature Christianity, choosing to follow the well-worn paths of a great majority practicing a powerless faith, rather than venturing higher, finding the less traveled paths that lead to the fullness of God's promise toward His children.
Israel did not look upon the walls of Jericho and say, 'why waste seven days, why wear ourselves out by walking around the city when we can take it by force?', because they realized this battle would be won by entirely supernatural means, only by the power of God. Only God can remove the obstacles before us, and it is in the power of our heavenly Father that our faith must reside.
When God promises victory, he leaves nothing to chance. The orders of what Israel needed to do in order to obtain victory over Jericho were so precise, that it left no room for men to take the glory or the credit for themselves, it left no doubt as to whom had planned to the most minute of details, and executed to perfection the bringing down of Jericho's walls.
Israel did not choose the weapons, or the ram's horns, they did not choose to walk around Jericho, or how many times they were to do it, they did not need to trouble themselves with how they would obtain the victory, the simply had to obey in order to obtain it. God had preordained everything it was up to the people to simply follow directions.
Faith merely submits to the preordained order of God, and uses the measures and methods, which He established by which victory would be obtained. Faith does not invent the means for victory; faith obeys God's direction for victory.
But brother, we need committees, we need synods, we need money, we need budget meetings, we need fund raising schemes, we need empty promises, we need compromise, they will say. Man might need these things, but faith has no use, or need of them. God has His ways, God has His means, God has His provision.
Yes, we know all that, we've been in church long enough to know that God has His ways, and He makes a way, even when there seems to be no way, but why can't He make the way easier? Why can't He simplify it? Why all these complications?
Why march around the city once a day for six days, not just the priests, or a few men, but all the men of war, and why do it seven times on the seventh day? What is the significance? What does it mean? Why couldn't we just do it once and be done with it?
I realize some of you are waiting, bated breath for some hyper spiritual insight that will answer all those questions, but the simple truth, is that faith does not ask why. Faith does not start mapping out success ration charts, it doe snot have strategy outlines, faith accepts the means by which God promised He would provide the victory, obeys, and obtains victory. faith had proven itself before, whether on Passover, or during the crossing of the Red Sea, and so the people had intimate knowledge of what it meant to have faith in the promises of God, as well as how important obedience was, even in the most minute of details.
Now, brother, are you trying to say that faith has no reason? Aren't you the guy who always said, that God was a God of reason, and logic? No, I am not saying faith has no reason, I am saying that faith submits first, and understands later. If faith would attempt to understand before it submits, then it would no longer be faith, it would be reason.
Abraham did not know the outcome, he did not understand why he had to bring his son on a three day journey, only to sacrifice him to God, but he had faith, he trusted in God, and in the end he saw the reason, he understood not only the journey, but the motive for the journey, also receiving a reward for his obedience.
faith will tell you of the seven days, of the ark of the Lord, of the multitudes, of the trumpets, of the shouts of joy, but it will only tell you of these things after it has submitted.
Faith marches ever onward, dependent on the promise of God, the promise that the walls of Jericho would fall, and the city would be taken. Then, faith is tested!
I cannot say how joyful the people of Israel were, marching around the walls of Jericho on the first day, but I can say with certainty that they were even less joyful on the sixth day of their march, when nothing had as yet happened. The Word does not tell us that the people began to murmur, I guess they'd already learned their lessons about murmuring from their fathers, but it is very likely that there was some rolling of the eyes, on that sixth day, when the blisters were at their peak, and they'd had no rest, and still nothing had happened. Not a crack, not a hairline fracture in any of the walls, just the walking, and the blaring trumpets, and the carrying of the ark.
Although God had laid out the entire plan to Joshua, he shared it with the people piecemeal. All he told them was to take up the Ark of the Covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets, and walk around the city without saying a word. One of these days, he would tell them to shout, but until such a time, all were supposed to be silent.
Joshua was sharing information on a need to know basis, and although he knew that on the seventh day the wall of the city would fall flat, the people did not.
After six days of marching around the city once, and then returning to their camp, on the seventh day, Joshua rose early, with the dawn, and informed the people that they would be marching around the city not one, but seven times. Finally, on the seventh march around the city, while the priests blew their trumpets, Joshua said to the people, 'Shout, for the Lord has given you the city!'
It was only when the people were brought up to speed on the entire story, that their faith was rewarded with not only seeing the fulfillment of God's promise, but also with the understanding of why they had to do, what they had to do.
It seems this study is too long to finish in this post, and so tomorrow, we continue the journey of Joshua, Jericho, and a little place called Ai will soon be brought to the forefront.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.


Bonny said...

I often muse that, when I was studying, it was always 'theory before practice'. Learn the theory then apply it.....but I found that the Lord's school of faith was 'obey and DO....then you will understand why'. In other words, the opposite way to the world. It is a far more effective way to learn. However, intellect and reason can be the worst enemies of faith.
Thanks Michael,

Anonymous said...

What a great message! Your message has been proven many times for me in my own walk. What the Lord asks of me when I step out on faith rarely makes any earthly sense. When I try to understand through my own intelligence I get frustrated...but when I simply submit and trust He delivers as promised. Thank you for your willingness to offer simple messages based on the TRUTH! It is a blessing to me, to my wife, and to our family.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Bonny, the toughest part of having faith is learning to crucify your own fleshly understanding, which is correct in all things fleshly and logical most times but is completely useless in faith matters. Like for instance, the mind will tell you there is no way five loaves and two fishes can feed five thousand...really, just do the math. But faith tells you go ahead and distribute...really doesn't make sense, but the people get fed and have some left overs! For me it is that level of trust in God that I need to achieve, "accepting the means that Gd said He would accomplish" without trying to help Him along, twisting that and fixing this to make it just right for the way I see it being accomplished. Learning to lose trust in me and to completely trust in him...just thinking about it makes me see how much I need to die and how much I am still fighting to stay alive...Jesus help me.
In His Grace,Joyce

Bonny said...

Blizzards in Wisconsin? We had a tropical thunderstorm here in Sydney, Australia, just as your radio programme started! But I got to hear most of it. Thank you again for your faithfulness to the truth. I hope and pray that many had ears to hear.