Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Agony of Defeat

Joshua was agonizing over a defeat in battle, Israel vs Ai. He questioned God saying (Joshua 7:7), "... Ah, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us?..." Joshua and the Israelites had defeated Jericho, a larger city, which was their first battle after crossing the Jordan River. God fought the battle for them, His covenant people, because of their trust and obedience to Him. Afterward, Joshua sent a smaller military force to conquer Ai. He had been assured by the two spies that they would surely win because Ai was small in numbers. The Israelites were weak without the help of the Lord; they could not stand before their enemies, so they fled and were killed by the men of Ai. Of course, there was a reason for this defeat. One among the Israelites had sinned; he had stolen from the accursed items in Jericho and hid them and placed the items with his personal belongings. Joshua was unaware of the covenant violation.
The Lord informed Joshua that Israel cannot stand against their enemies because they have been made liable to destruction and that He would not be with them anymore unless they destroy the evil among them. God named the sins that Achan, of the tribe of Judah, had committed (11). Joshua had to take action. He got up and followed God's, instructions to seek the one who did not keep God's command, for he must be punished. Achan and everything he owned was brought to what is now known as the Valley of Achor. This included the items he had taken, his children, and his animals. He and all his possessions were stoned, burned and buried beneath a pile of large rocks by all of Israel. Lord, then, turned His anger from Israel and they were successful in their battle against Ai the second time.
God gets angry with us, too, His covenant people for not following His instructions. Are we so quick to get upset with God, to blame Him before looking at what we have done or did not do?

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