<image courtesy of graylight>
Over the course of the last few Joshua posts, some ideas have been shared about where victory for the Israelites wasn’t found as they fought in the somewhat well-known battle for Jericho and their less familiar defeat at Ai. As counterintuitive as it may seem, we discovered that the key to their victory wasn’t in a flashy move of God, attempting to conquer, or self-confident.
The key to their victory—and the key for us to find victory and freedom in what we face—is simple:
Joshua 7:10-13 (TNIV)—
10 The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.
In seeking God for understanding about the source of their defeat, the Israelites discovered the source of their victory: Obedience. Their victory wasn’t theirs at all but came about as a direct result of their obedience to God’s direction.
The instructions to Israel about how to fight the battle for Jericho had been clear: march around the city day after day (even though it probably looked and felt ridiculous) and then when the city was invaded the people were to dedicate certain objects to God. The source of Israel’s defeat at Ai was their disobedience at Jericho: they had only followed PART of the instructions. Even ‘worse,’ only part of Israel followed part of the instructions—for the most part, everyone seems to have very carefully followed God’s direction and acted within the parameters which had been set for them.
But there was one man who didn’t. One. A man named Achan took hold of some the very things God said belonged only to Him and claimed ownership of them for himself. As a result all of Israel was defeated; one man’s disobedience meant the suffering of an entire people.
Our personal disobedience never effects only us. Our personal sin is never personal. Our individual issues reach far beyond our personal experience. This is one reason the Church is called to judge herself and we are reminded of our existence as a single Body not a group of individual people.
Victory for us, our churches, our families, our communities is found in our obedience to the Lordship of God’s Spirit. This may be simple, but it is not easy—the incredible thing is that through Jesus Christ, we have access to the desire to obey and through Christ we have the ability to find obedience (and, therefore, victory).