Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Joshua continued...
Joshua 7:10-12, “So the Lord said to Joshua: ‘Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.’”
Israel suffered defeat at the hands of Ai because they had sinned, and transgressed the covenant of God. God wasn’t picking on Israel, He wasn’t being mean, and He wasn’t having a bad day. Israel had sinned, and God said He would neither be with the people or with Joshua himself anymore, unless the accursed was destroyed from among them.
One of the most obvious, yet simultaneously most overlooked lessons during this moment in Israel’s history is the way in which God perceives sin.
Admittedly, even much of Christendom has adopted the mantra ‘if it’s not hurting anyone else, it’s none of my business,’ but especially when it comes to the household of faith, and those who identify themselves as sons and daughters of God, the notion that your individual sin will not affect the entire camp is foolish and false on its face.
It was not as though half of Israel had sinned or transgressed. It was not as though half of Israel had taken some of the accursed things. One man named Achan committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, and now God tells Joshua that all the people had become doomed to destruction.
Many a preacher today chooses not to preach against sin because they have talked themselves into believing that individual sin does not affect the body as a whole. What they have done, is talk themselves into believing a lie.
If we are all members of the same body, then with every member that is not performing optimally, with every member that is hurt, wounded, diseased or numb, the entire body suffers, and withers and loses vitality.
The word of God, both in the New and Old Testament, attempts to teach those who would follow after Christ the importance of individual sanctification, and the impact it has on the entire body.
One man had sinned, and God was holding the entire nation responsible for it. One man had sinned, yet God said until such a time as the accursed thing was destroyed from among them, God would no longer be with His people.
Either the sin is removed from the camp, or the camp removes itself from the sin, but either way, God expects and even demands a clean, righteous, holy people, who place His will above their own, and His commandments above their desires.
It wasn’t as though God had not made His will clear to His people. It was not as though they were ignorant concerning the accursed things or that they ought not to take them.
This was not the first time God spoke to His people, it was not the first time He had warned them of the consequences of disobedience, but as is so often the case, the passing of time had dulled their memories, or they had chosen to disregard the word and message of God altogether.
Deuteronomy 28:15, “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.”
God had spoken. God had been explicit. God had warned of what would happen if they did not obey his voice and carefully observe all His commandments. Among the many things God listed as consequence to their disobedience, we also find what happened when the three thousand went up to defeat Ai.
Deuteronomy 28:25, “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.”
Two ways are set before every man: the way of obedience or the way of rebellion. Each man, and nation chooses the way they will follow, and either reap the reward of their obedience, or suffer the consequences of their rebellion.
In His love God warns. In His love God instructs. In His love God shows us the outcome of our rebellion vividly, and without reservation, yet in our hard heartedness, we still choose the way of rebellion thinking we know better, and that we will succeed where others have failed, because we are wiser than our predecessors.
Obedience to God makes us victorious even when we are one against a thousand. Disobedience and rebellion cause our defeat even before the first blow is struck.
In reading the passage in Deuteronomy, one can’t help but notice that defeat will not come because your enemies are better equipped, have the high ground, are more experienced soldiers, or are greater in number, but rather the Lord will cause the defeat.
It might seem harsh to some, seeing that the Lord Himself will cause defeat when we are disobedient, but the takeaway lesson in this is how unacceptable disobedience and rebellion are seen of God, not how harsh God can be.
God’s love, mercy, peace and goodness are extended to all who obey, to all who bow before Him and worship Him. He keeps those who are His, He protects them, and He guides them, and gives them victory even when victory is unexpected.
To live with the expectation of God’s providence while being in active, open, and ongoing rebellion against Him, is not only foolish but illogical and absent reason. We cannot do what God abhors, shake our fist toward heaven, pretend He does not exist, and still, somehow demand He bless us, keep us, and give us victory.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.