When it comes to righteousness, there are two extremes that are quite problematic. There are those who live in blatant sin while naming the name of God and seem to feel nothing wrong with it, believing they still have unlimited power against the enemy. I have nothing to say about them.
The other extreme is those who run hard after God but fail overtly along the way and believe that their sin has disqualified them from authority over the devil. I have a lot to say to them. Read on!
The story of Joshua and Israel after the fall of Jericho is an instructional model for us.
Achan messed up at Jericho and the whole nation got spanked at Ai. Joshua was shell shocked, on his face before God, and God told him to get up and deal with it. God was not interested in groveling – He wanted some action in addressing the root issue.
Joshua did, and God promptly gave them an unequivocal victory over the people of Ai.
Next, Joshua led in the huge re-dedication of the nation to God at Mt. Ebal, according to Moses’ (and God’s) directions months before. It was quite the project as Joshua ordered a lot of “stuff” to be chiseled into stone, in addition to organizing the whole nation into an antiphonal choir on two mountains, and delivering a repetition of the law in significant detail.
So much for running hard after God. Joshua was the man.
Fresh off that momentous occasion, they fell for the Gibeonites’ vaudeville performance and violated clear, repetitive commands of God and Moses in the most inexcusable way – they forgot to ask God what He thought.
Think about Joshua’s emotions when this all came to light. To be deceived by Achan was one thing. Not Joshua’s fault. But to get taken in by such a cheesy trick simply because he forgot to check in with God? I would feel about knee high to a single cell amoeba after pulling a boner like that.
There was no time to mope though.
The neighboring five cities felt absolutely betrayed by the Gibeonites, so they decided to take them out so they would not side with Israel in war.
Again, putting myself in Joshua’s shoes, I would feel horribly trapped. They were in covenant with the Gibeonites which meant they could not kill them. That is bad. But suddenly the Gibeonites were invoking covenant and demanding that Israel RESCUE them.
RESCUE?!! What a travesty.
Have you ever been in one of those messes where it seems there is no end to the consequences of one bad choice?
That is this mess.
The fact that Joshua had to protect the ornery, lying buzzards was just wretched. Then he had to go up against five kings at once – a first for him and a dangerous proposition. And it was territory that they had not had a chance to spy out, and so far, Joshua had been very meticulous in doing due diligence in the arena of reconnaissance.
Furthermore, he would be fighting uphill, since all of these were mountain cities, especially Jerusalem. AND the Gibeonites wanted help right now, which meant being up all day, marching all night, in the dark, up a mountain, in an area you do not know, in order to fight all day the next day (and as it turns out, fight a second day too).
Bad, baaad and baaaad.
One mess on top of another because of a totally inexcusable mistake by Joshua who so knew better.
So what to do?
Well, on the human level, Joshua decided to bite the bullet and start marching up hill. There is no record of his seeking God out for a strategy session. My guess is that he was too ashamed. If ever he needed the power of God, it was then, but if ever a man had the right to feel ashamed of his leadership and unsure of his relationship with God, it was then.
What a week. Jericho’s triumph. Ai. Achan stoned, Ai version 2.0. Mount Ebal. Gibeon. And now the enemy setting the time and the place for an engagement, something you never want to have happen. So what is the score? Where do you stand with God after that mixed bag?
Even a Gumby doll would have PTSD after that week.
In the midst of that, God took the initiative and came to Joshua and reassured him that God was still totally in the game. With no rebuke, God simply told Joshua to lean into the battle and whup those bad boys and that God was guaranteeing the victory.
With that reassurance, Joshua leaned in, the bad boys started running, God realized the Hebrews were not going to be able to pull this off on their own even with an extra day thrown in for good measure, so He took out his heavenly sling shot and began picking off the runners with supersized hailstones.
At the end of the day, God had more kills than the Hebrews.
So what is our point here?
First, don’t let the devil take you out emotionally if you have had a less than spectacular seven days. Get in the game and hammer down.
Second, we need to up the ante. This battle was so much harder for Israel than Jericho where they marched calmly, in the daylight, on flat ground, while no one shot at them. The march up the hill all night and the 48 hours of run-and-gun was no easy thing. I ‘spect the whole army had some serious adrenal fatigue going on when it was over. The fact that God did most of the heavy lifting doesn’t change the fact that He required some all-out investment from the army.
We have had some nice little victories in the first two days. Emphasis on little. We need to lean in harder now, as a tribe, motivating everyone around us to bring major pressure to bear on the enemy for far bigger issues than we have seen so far. I am on the road, writing this in an airplane, having recorded the prayer this morning on the run, but getting it done anyway.
I am headed to a training but am going to keep hammering on this issue with intensity. The little stuff we have gained so far is just little stuff. The battle to get out of Egypt was huge and hard, and the war to conquer Canaan was also intense and expensive. We cannot expect our whole tribe to get free from this curse and critter with a two or three day fuss. This spirit is more deeply entrenched than that! Clear your schedule. Allocate serious time and WAR against this issue.
Third, realize that God-speed comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes. He could have ratcheted up the speed of the Hebrews so they could outrun any Amorite, but instead He used His slingshot. So let’s not get bogged down in coaching God on what God-speed looks like. Let’s simply show up and fight for every expression of the Egyptian curse and demons to be expunged from the entire SLG tribe and for every expression of God-speed that He desires us to experience.
Copyright July 2015 by Arthur Burk
Airborne in a grasshopper, over Pittsburgh