Often, when things seem to be going well, we become confident in our own strength and forget our need of daily inquiry into the Word of God. This is what seems to have happened with Joshua after the great victory at Jericho in Joshua 7:6-13. Ai, the next city, seemed a small conquest, so Joshua planned the attack using the spies’ recommendations, but without seeking the counsel of God. The battle went horribly wrong, and Joshua jumped to some horrible conclusions. Let’s look at them: Joshua says “Oh Lord… why did YOU bring us across …to deliver us…to destroy us?” Joshua questions God! Then he says “We would have been content….on the other side of Jordan!” He looks to the past for contentment. Joshua thinks he must account for God’s “mistake” and cries “What shall I say…!” Next he jumps to conclusions about the future and assumes the Canaanites will hear and “…cut off our name from the earth!” To climax his concern he worries about God and asks, “and what will YOU do to YOUR great name?”
In verse 13, God seemed to slap Joshua across the face, as it were, and say “get up off the ground, Israel hath sinned!” As followers of Jesus Christ we must always remember two rules: Rule #1 – God is always right! Rule #2 – When God is wrong, see Rule #1!
As believers and missionaries of the gospel, we are often confronted with those daily circumstances of life that seem to negate the promises of God. How do we respond? Is it like Peter who was given the privilege of walking to Jesus on the water but decided to look at the waves around him instead of the One who bid him come to Him? The “default” setting of our sinful nature seems to be questioning God when things don’t go as we planned. We are like the train conductor who while inspecting the tickets of the passengers was appalled at the number who boarded the wrong train and whose tickets were for other destinations, only to find HE had boarded the wrong train!
If we allow the Scriptures to saturate our daily lives, we will be less prone to walk in the strength of the flesh, and will walk in the power of the Spirit. It is important to notice the number of times Scripture refers to the use of our minds.
“and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the
renewing of your mind…”
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, …(who) made Himself
of no reputation… taking the form of a servant… humbled himself!”
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the
peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus… think on these things.”
“… we have the mind of Christ.”
I Corinthians 2:16
Is our mind “marinated” in the Word of God? God has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue. (2 Peter 1:3)
Let us not judge Joshua too harshly, but let us learn the lesson God teaches us through him. Believe God and His Word above all circumstances. Be prepared by remembering the promises God gives to us, so when the “unexpected” happens, namely, “God lets us down”, our hearts and minds cry out first and foremost: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose… if God be for us who can be against us? He that spared not His own son, but delivered him us for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:28, 31b, 32)
Finally, we must always be alert to the fact that we are prone to repeat our mistakes and failures. The scriptures tell us in Joshua chapter 9:14 that Joshua again made a deal to spare the Gibeonites without asking counsel of God. The old hymn says it very well. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it! Prone to leave the God I love. May our prayer be “Here’s my heart, Oh take and seal it! Seal it for thy courts above!”
When God lets us down, let us remember that God always does what is right!