Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Joshua 7, 8, 9 God's Campaign

The ramp leading up to the altar on Mount EbalImage via Wikipedia
Even after God miraculously brought down the walls of Jericho and handed the city over to Israel, the nation quickly forgot to pray for God’s will and direction.  In a striking contrast to the campaign against Jericho, Joshua relied on his own perceptions to determine how to fight against the next city of Ai.  After Israel suffered a humiliating defeat, Joshua turned to God.  In this recorded prayer, Joshua actually whined, effectively asking God why He brought Israel into Canaan to be destroyed.

God’s response was to get to the heart of the matter.  Israel sinned and “That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction.” (Joshua 7:12).  God showed Joshua that Israel had disobeyed His explicit instructions in how the battle of Jericho was to be conducted and that until they addressed the sin, He couldn’t be with them.

After Israel removed the source of sin from their camp, God is recorded as giving counsel to Joshua on how to proceed with the battle against Ai.  After a decided victory over Ai, Israel turned to worship God.  They built an altar on Mount Ebal, offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and then listened to the entire Book of the Law as Moses had commanded them to do.

Yet, after these intense, close encounters with God, Joshua lapsed again into trusting his own perceptions of circumstances rather than seeking God for wisdom and discernment.
A delegation of men, disguised to look as though they traveled from a great distance, came to Joshua and asked that he sign a treaty with them.  They ingratiated themselves into Joshua’s notice by flattering the nation, saying that they were sent here because Israel was considered so mighty and powerful.  Joshua listened to their speech, trusted his eyes in evaluating their appearance, tasted their provisions, and then entered into a treaty with them.   Unfortunately, this delegation was actually from a neighboring city which was supposed to be destroyed. 

In these chapters, Joshua is portrayed as someone who had a heart for God, loved God, and yet desired to trust in his own senses rather than to seek God’s wisdom.  I wonder if he thought that God just shouldn’t be bothered with seemingly insignificant decisions. God showed him that there are no small decisions – all decisions should be brought before Him so that He, who is Sovereign, can direct His Children to make the best decision.
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