Joshua 7:6-13 Self-examination leads to repentance and victory
6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7 Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why did You ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan! 8 O Lord, what can I say since Israel has turned their back before their enemies? 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will You do for Your great name?”
10 So the Lord said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. 12 Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst. 13 Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the Lord, the God of Israel, has said, “There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.”
Joshua, upon hearing the news of Israel’s defeat tore his clothes and put dust on his head in mourning. However, God was not impressed with his act for he lacked understanding in God’s righteous judgment and he grossly overestimated the integrity of his people. Until the curse of sin is removed through repentance, there can be no victory in our endeavors. Today’s passage teaches us not to waste time morning our failures and doubting God’s righteousness and sincerity to bless. But we are to rise up and confront our sins through repentance. In doing so, we learn from our mistakes and in due time achieve success in all our endeavors.
Alas, O Lord God, why did You ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
The basic instinct of man in the event of failure is to accord blame to the almighty God. Joshua and the elders, stunned by the defeat fell on their faces before the ark of the Lord until evening. Joshua asked the Lord three questions:
– Why did You bring us here to destroy us?
– Israel was under threat as their defeat at Ai might result in an all out attack from the Canaanites.
– How would God protect His reputation and honor in Canaan?
Joshua’s immediate response was to blame God for their defeat; his actions displayed his lack of understanding in God who was good and righteous in all His dealings. He had also overestimated the integrity of the people. For he did not consider the possibility that his men might have transgressed on their part.
I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst.
God’s reply to Joshua was curt. God took no pleasure in the pity party pathetic display of bitterness but in the swift expiation of sin and restoration of Israel. The cause of Israel’s defeat lies in the breach of covenant: Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. God surfaced the root of the transgression: theft, deceit, concealment and selfishness. And that which exclusively belonged to God had been put to selfish use. By coveting the first fruits, Israel had become accursed with defeat and poverty. In God’s perspective, the corporate and the individual go hand in hand; Israel’s sanctity as a covenant people, because of one man had been violated. Therefore, the people had to consecrate themselves by exposing the cause of sin in their midst. There could be no victory until sin was dealt with: You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.
Our first response in the event of failure is self-examination. People often blame God for their misfortunes without understanding the true cause of their failures. If people do not humble themselves to do some serious soul searching, they are bound to fail again. Man fail primarily because he does not learn from the mistakes he made. Man’s self-righteous instincts and pride often cause them to accord blame to God or to another. Joshua immediately questioned God’s righteousness and intentions; he supposed God being all-powerful and gracious should never have let Israel fail under any circumstances. The fact is: there can be no victory unless the curse is removed through repentance and forgiveness: You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.
Therefore, the believer’s first response in the event of failure is always to examine himself and his team in the light of the truth. As it is always God’s desire to bless, there is no reason to doubt God’s sincerity towards helping His people succeed.
Total repentance brings total victory. God is always ready to forgive and to restore His people to prosperity. He desires His people to emerge from discipline and poverty into victory and abundance. Total repentance summarily brings an end to divine discipline leading to total victory.
God seemed unimpressed with Joshua’s dramatic demonstration of dismay by tearing his clothes and heaping dust on his head. The Lord said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face?” God wasted no time in pointing to the root of Israel’s defeat: There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. The more decisive they are in facing their wrong doing and getting to the root of it, the sooner Israel may be restored to victory: Rise up! Consecrate the people… removed the things under the ban from your midst.
Many churchgoers waver between two decisions: to live wholly for God or to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. They are not living in God’s perfect will nor are they experiencing His abundance. They are treading on the seams of earthly pleasures and kingdom living; they desire to escape hell and yet not willing to let go of their fleshly desires. Many will continue to live in this manner until they grow tired of the God’s incessant discipline. And when they finally yield themselves to God only to regret the years lost in transition.
A man named Mehran Karimi Nasseri spent 17 years at Terminal 1 in the Charles de Gaulle Airport, France. He was expelled from Iran but was granted refugee status to live in Europe. However, because of his indecisiveness, he sent his papers away in a moment of folly that resulted in his protracted residency at Terminal 1. During his stay, Nasseri had his luggage at his side and spent his time reading, and writing in his diary. He could not bring back the 17 years that was wasted because of his indecisiveness.
Therefore, believers must stop wavering between two decisions but to live wholly for God’s purposes.
Are you accustomed to mourning your failures and nursing your wounds? Do you belong to the category of people who love the feeling of melancholy and self-pity? Indecisiveness is a disease that lays waste the productive years leaving behind a trail of tears and regret. Rise up from your lethargy! Set things right with God and start living!
Dear Lord, show me the areas of my life that needed change. As I yield myself to your Spirit, empower me to overcome my incessant weaknesses. Remove the fear of change and replace it with hope and great expectations. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.