Over the last several months we have been going through a study in the book of Joshua. The other day I was reading again in Joshua 7 and some things really jumped out at me. Things that I think if we aren’t careful we could miss but they are so very applicable for today in 2022.
Joshua and the Israelites have just defeated Jericho, without ever raising a sword. They just watched as the walls fell around the city because they did what God had instructed them to do. This was the first big miracle after crossing the Jordan River and making their way into the Promised Land.
Then we see that in the beginning of chapter 7 Joshua and the Israelites are preparing to capture the town of Ai.
We’re going to pick up in verse 2.
“Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy our the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-haven. When they returned, they told Joshua ’there’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.’ So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly drafted. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away. Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening. Then Joshua cried out ‘ Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side!”
On the other side of the Jordan, there was slavery,
On the other side of the Jordan, there was no direction,
They were wandering and lost.
On the other side of the Jordan, they would have never experienced all the promises God had for them.
There were thousands of generations that would have never experienced true salvation on the other side of the Jordan and Joshua, after losing ONE battle wishes to be there…
Not only does he wish to be there but he wishes to be “content“ there.
The definition of the word content is to be in a state of peaceful happiness
To be fully satisfied!
The thing is so often we are ok with being outside the Will of God because we don’t know any better.
We are ok with being slaves because we don’t know what true freedom looks like.
We’re ok with the crumbs of this life because we don’t know what meal is prepared for us when we meet Jesus!
We’re going to skip down to verse 10:
and see what God’s answer to Joshua’s prayer was.
“But the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they will have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for distraction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for distraction.”
When the Israelites conquered Jericho they were instructed not to take certain items from the city.
Joshua 6:18 says
“Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourself will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel.”
The thing that really jumped out to me when I read this was the last line of that verse
“I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for distraction”
I couldn’t help but feel like this is a warning to us. Today.
On the surface of this chapter, it looks as though we are talking about physical items but I really think this is a foreshadowing of what our relationship with Jesus is supposed to look like.
When we encounter Jesus and we ask Him to be LORD of our lives we are telling Him that we are turning away from the shiny things of this world and following Him.
We are telling God that we want to walk, talk and act like Jesus. But so often I think that we begin this walk and along the way, we see things that grab our attention and we say “yeah, I’ll walk with Jesus but I’m going to bring this, this and this with me”.
“I’m going to bring my porn addiction, I mean, no one knows about it but me anyway. I’m going to follow Jesus but I’m going to keep this time of my day focused on social media or video games. I’m going to walk with Jesus but I’m going to hold onto this bad language that I use, the drugs that I take, this alcohol that I drink, or this person I’m attracted to….”
Whatever that is for you we often decide to follow Jesus AND carry those things along with us.
God in this verse is telling us what is going to happen when we continue to do that.
Guys, God is a loving God.
He cares about you, He sees you, He talks to you. Even when you think He doesn’t.
Just like everything in life we have to be intentional about listening.
God will give us direction and instruction. He’s given us the Bible to go to for knowledge about Him. He’s given us stories like this one to show us what His nature toward sin.
God doesn’t tolerate sin and evil.
What we see over and over again in the Old Testament is how God deals with the enemies that stand against God and His people. If you are a Jesus follower you are HIS people.
God desires to talk with us and guide us but we have to listen and be willing to give things up that He is asking us to.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always going to be easy. We are going to be asked to let go of sin and that’s not always comfortable.
We’re going to be asked to live our lives reflecting Jesus and living according to the instructions God has given us through the Bible, His Word!
If we are unwilling to do that the result is going to be us not having the ability to hear God’s voice anymore.
The bible tells us in Romans 1:12-24
“Yes, they knew God but they wouldn’t worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Calming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-lasting God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desires….”
The bible clearly tells us that there will be a time in which God will give us over to our own desires if we are unwilling to open our hearts to Him.
If we constantly close our ears to His call and His voice. If we try to hold onto the things in our lives that are set apart for destruction. Things in our lives that God is asking us to let go of. We will get to the point that we no longer hear the voice of God in our lives.
God’s will for us is in
1 Timothy 2:4
“who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth”
Jeremiah 29: 11
“For I know the plans I have you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
It’s a game-changer in your walk with God when you see Him as your truth.
When you can allow yourself to get your identity from Him, you get your direction from Him, you get your relationship model from Him.
God wants so much for you in this life and He’s tuning your heart to hear Him. Just lean into that today.
Lean into the voice of God. Ask Him to NOT make you content on the other side of the Jordan outside of His will for your life.
But let him know that you are listening!
Jesus tell us In John 10:27-28
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me.”
Pray that God will allow you to hear Him that way!
That you follow Him and what that means for your life
Ask Him what in your life you need to let go of so that you can experience that true, authentic, fulfilling relationship He has for you.
The next few chapters of Joshua are filled with victory because they took control and got rid of the things in their camp that were meant for the Lord.
We will see a victory in our lives when we lean into the voice of God!
Pray with me
God, I ask you to help us draw closer to your voice. Help us to set aside the things in the life that we are holding onto that are set apart for destruction. Show us your Truth and help us to know when the lies of the enemy are around us. Speak to us God, allow your Kingdom to come and Your Will to be done. In Jesus’ name,