God's Way or Our Way?
Lord God, as I read Your Word today, may I grow in both my knowledge and my faith.
Read Joshua 7:1-9
 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel.  Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.  When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.”  So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai,  who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.  Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads.  And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!  Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies?  The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhy do you think the Israelites were defeated here?
At the start of this passage “the Israelites acted unfaithfully” (1) and these simple words are the key to interpreting what happens next. Joshua was a warrior who was used to planning military actions. So as a commander he does his calculations and collects some intelligence on his enemy’s strength. It’s apparently not as significant as he first thought (3). Acting on this, his attack is a disaster; 3,000 men are killed and Israel suffers an ignominious, public defeat. Joshua is devastated and “the hearts of the people melted” (5) with the news. What went wrong? Joshua leads the people in prayer asking God why he allowed this to happen (7). He tries to turn it back on God by saying that this event will reflect on him (9)! Joshua does not even consider it might have been his fault and not God’s. He didn’t recognize that he’d relied on his own strength. It is easy to live life on “automatic pilot,” making decisions based on what we see and understand, rather than on what God sees and understands. God does not want to overrule our gifts and abilities, he wants us to use them for his glory and purposes, rather than for our own ends.
Is there any effort for which you need to be sure you are relying on God, and working for his purposes?
Lord, I’m grateful for the gifts and abilities You’ve given me. May I use them in ways that please You.
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