Topic: Interrupted By Defeat
Text: Joshua 7:1- 26
Key Verse: “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you. – Joshua 7:13 NLT
Joshua took over leadership from Moses with so many reassuring statements and promises of God’s presence and victory. As he followed the Lord obediently, it was one miracle after the other, one success after another. Joshua never imagined defeat, shame, or loss after God had even appeared to him physically as the host’s captain.
When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord\’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?” – Joshua 5:13-14
The defeat of Jericho was a big win, so when they had to face Ai, they intentionally picked a few soldiers to deal with it. Could the outcome have been different if Joshua had inquired of the Lord about the strategy for this particular battle? Is this an assumption that we make in our daily lives? Joshua sent spies to Jericho before he attacked and God gave him a clear strategy, but with Ai, he worked with information.
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.” – Joshua 7:3
Paul said we should pray without ceasing; could it be because there will always be a need to speak to God about everything to avoid assumptions that give room to defeat? Information without revelation can produce sound defeat.
Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation], by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. – Philippians 4:6
Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart, And do not rely on your insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. – Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP
We often make trips without inquiry, recruit staff, and make decisions and investments without diligently seeking God to know his will. These may look like small fries, but we must endeavour to ask as spiritual people.
The defeat and shame in battle were the results of an offence. One man’s sin gave the devil the room to kill thirty-six men. The devil has power but is not omnipotent; he cannot afflict God’s people without access. The sin of Achan was for personal gain, but it produced a breach that made God turn away from his people; this gave the enemy the advantage to attack and cause defeat.
But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully and violated their obligation regarding the things [off limits] under the ban [those things belonging to the Lord ], for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban [for personal gain]. Therefore the anger of the Lord burned against the Israelites. – Joshua 7:1
Notice that it says…the anger of the Lord burned against the Israelites. It was not all who sinned, but one, yet God was angry with all. You may be asking if God punishes the innocent with the righteous; that’s a good question for Bible study; in this case, it seems God saw Israel as a single entity.
Notice Joshua’s response to this interruption to their victory series; he went to seek God’s face and asked questions for enlightenment. He didn’t start to battle the enemy right away, nor did he even look for whose fault it was; he wondered about the future of Israel after the defeat and the effect on God’s name.
Then Joshua cried out, “Ah, 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! Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honour of your great name?” – Joshua 7:7-9 NLT
When we seek answers, we will find, God is faithful. We always get answers when we are more concerned about his name and glory.
It took a long process to identify the source of the problem; Joshua patiently went through the people till the sin was unravelled.
Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. – Joshua 7:13
The key to restoration here was repentance and sanctification. God will always forgive when we repent, examine your ways and ask God in prayer to expose anything that can give the enemy access into your life to interrupt the things God has planned for you; these things may be personal, family, or community sins.
He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh a hedge, a serpent shall bite him. – Ecclesiastes 10:8
Father, thank you for being a merciful God; I need you every day to show me the way; I need you to expose the devices of the enemy at work against us, help me Lord, to ask the right questions as I make decisions daily, deliver me from assumptions and taking your grace for granted. Show me the way to restoration in Jesus’ name. Amen.