Joshua 7:1-15 (Part 1) – How Often Do We Whine To God About Messes We Made for Ourselves?

Posted: June 6, 2017 in 06-Joshua

Joshua 7:1-15 (Part 1 of 4)

Ai Defeats the Israelites

How often do we rely on our own strength and not seek God’s will for our lives? We think we got this. We only seek God when we are in trouble. Joshua just reminds me so much of myself in this passage. I thought it kind of reassuring as well that maybe there is hope for me yet.


I almost chuckled, ok well I did actually chuckle, when I read Joshua’s words, “Oh Sovereign Lord, why you bring us across the Jordan River if you going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side!” How many times do we whine to God like this? His reaction was funny to me. Joshua is supposed to be this mighty, mighty man of God and here he is just a little whiny baby. How many times. We do not seek His will but then when things go wrong, we want to whine to God about why He let this happen to us. It’s kind of like the college kid whose in his apartment bathroom after a day of tailgating in the hot September sun and a full day of drinking and is now making offerings to the porcelain god and praying to God to take it away. When we follow our own desires without seeking God and things go wrong we often cry out to God as to why it happened.


When we drive off headlong into what we want to do without consulting God in prayer as to what we should do, there are often consequences of our prideful ways. Ask anyone who has ever chosen the path of adultery and the path of divorce that results and we wonder why there is so much trouble in our lives. We wonder why our ex-spouse attacks us at every turn. We wonder why our children have issues growing up. We wonder why all this stuff is happening. Ask anyone who has chosen to seek revenge against someone who has hurt them. Revenge can consume and destroy you and have consequences on the people that care about you. Ask anyone who has plowed off on the consul of people who are not seeking God themselves. Oh I would show him! Oh, I would do this! Oh, I would do that! How many bad mistakes have been made by people who listened to others who have not prayed about the advice they are about to give.


Today is my oldest daughter’s 8th wedding anniversary. If she had listened to me, the prideful father, she would not be celebrating that anniversary today. A few years back, Curtis had done some things to hurt my daughter deeply. He had his reasons. Maybe, Meghan was in school getting her master’s degree and he felt left behind. Maybe, he was getting enough attention from her. Maybe she was too consumed by her career and school. But nonetheless, it happened. If Meghan had listened to me and many of her friends and family, she would be divorced right now. She did separate from her husband for a while, but she eventually got back together with her husband. She was given advice by many including myself that she was just caving in to insecurity and to the unknown world of being single. However, to my daughter’s credit, she believed that God hates divorce. She believed that there was something there to be saved. She sought God’s will in the situation and did not seek to divorce just because of a momentary attack on her pride. Equally enough, Curtis was humbled by seeking his own desires and not those of God and sought forgiveness. They are still together today because they put their pride aside and sought God’s will for their marriage. We now have a beautiful granddaughter who is the most amazingly cute thing I have ever seen. Even at 10 ½ months old, she has the most amazingly expressive personality – those facial expressions are priceless. That laugh is infectious. She is a happy baby to the core. Where would all that be if Meghan and Curtis had not sought God’s will and worked to save their marriage. They would be just another statistic like me with my two divorces. We must seek God’s will for our marriages and for anything else that we do. I thank my own daughter for her example of seeking God’s will before and above any advice of well-meaning but prideful and often jaded friends and family. We should seek God’s will in the big things like marriage, big life decisions, etc. but we should seek His will for us daily through prayer. No matter what we are to encounter we should be seeking His will.


Too often we leave God out of the little decisions and it sets a pattern of not including God in any of our decision making processes. Then, the pattern causes us to leave Him out of big decisions too. Seeking God’s advice through prayer is like a last resort to us when our plans don’t work. How often do we do that?


That idea of not seeking God’s will and its consequences are what I thought of this morning as I read through Joshua 7:1-15 for the first of four times that we will read through it. Let’s read it together, now:


7 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things[a]; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri,[b] the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.


2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.


3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.


6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”


10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.


13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.


14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. 15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’”


The first thing that I noticed in that his passage was the fact that nowhere in the lead-up to the attack on Ai did Joshua consult with God through prayer. He relied on his own instincts and the strength of his army to defeat the little city of Ai. Only after Israel loses the battle do the elders of Israel seek the Lord and ask what happened.  This passage reveals to us that, too often, we rely on our own skills and strength, especially when the task before us seems easy. We go to God only when the obstacles seem to great. However, only God knows what lies ahead. Consulting Him through prayer, even when things are going good and we are on a winning streak, may save us from grave mistakes or misjudgments.


On my daughter’s wedding anniversary today, I am thankful that she is a child of God. I am thankful that she truly does have an active prayer life that guides her decision-making process. Sure, they don’t have a perfect marriage – no one does. However, I do not that because of what they have been through early in their marriage and the fact that they humbled themselves before the Lord and made their marriage more important than their pride that Meghan and Curtis are going to make it. As long as they continue to put God first in their marriage, they will make it. As long as they seek God’s will for their marriage, they are going to make it. As long as they pray daily for God to guide their decisions in their marriage, they will make it.


So often we just get pissed off by things and go our own way and do our own thing. So often we do not care about including God in our decision making processes. So often we do it our own way and then we end up whining to the Lord as to why we are where we are. I know I have done that more often than I can count. God if you will just get me out of this mess! The mess that I made for myself because I did not seek His will through prayer.


Amen and Amen.

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