Obedience vs. Disobedience

Today’s Reading: Joshua 6 – 8

We are already at Day 70 and have seen so many concepts in the stories that apply directly into our lives. This is an exciting journey we are on … I wonder if today will be even more significant as 7 / 70 are important numbers in Scripture? I have found these two days’ readings meaningful in message and application in my life. Today we will continue with God’s plan and Israel’s execution of the conquest of the promised land.

Joshua puts God’s war strategy into place with some men of war. First, an armed guard followed by seven priests with trumpets and the Ark of the Covenant. Behind this was a rear guard and, we believe, the people of Israel. The Bible doesn’t tell us at this point where the people of Israel were who marched around the city also. Note that the Ark of the Covenant was placed in a safe place of honour in the middle of two sets of guards. To me this is quite funny as the thought that would enter my mind is ‘Does God need to be protected?!?’ (Remember that the Ark of the Covenant was representative of God’s presence among the people.) However, to the people outside it would represent the importance of God in the lives of Israel as they were willing to protect this symbol with their lives.

The people are instructed to be silent at this point and only God’s seven trumpets are to sound! Could this be a warning to the inhabitants of Jericho? These trumpets were to be blown once everyday for six days, but seven times on day 7. I’m sure this is not conventional war strategy used by either modern or ancient military! (Hmm…I think I should check with John … at least not in war games right?!) Then on the seventh day, on the seventh round, the command to shout the victory cry comes. When the people shouted, amazingly the walls came tumbling down! Have you experienced a break through in some situation when you were courageous enough to open your mouth? This is the part I like in my life – the victorious shout and the crashing walls, but I have big reservations for having to do the march for 6 days with no results! The lack of evidence of God’s hand at work and my conviction that my enemies’ confidence is growing with every round often brings about enough discouragement for me to give up on the situation and God. I hope that today I will remember that no matter what I see, feel or think that God is at work and what he instructs me to do will be successful through his power and my persistence.

I wonder how it must have looked like after and how did Rehab’s part of the wall survive? Anyway, her house was there and Joshua knows how to keep a promise, like God! Rehab and her family are safely brought to a place outside of the camp. Later, she is honourably mentioned in Matt. 1:5 as the mother of famous Boaz and great great grandmother of King David. Moreover, she is chosen by God as one of the Messiah’s ancestors – ever hear about GRACE?! I’m glad God doesn’t whitewash the facts of their lives nor ours. Our God loves to record how He is able through His graciousness to choose to enrich and bless us beyond our wildest dreams both in life here on earth and in eternity in heaven! What an incredible demonstration of the gentle beauty of the One that loves us beyond measure.

Unfortunately, victorious moments can be incredibly dangerous and Achan is tempted to disobey God’s command by an attractive Babylonian garment of worth, some silver and a bar of gold. Now why does that remind me of myself? How many times have I been led astray by things that are attractive to my eyes, things that will bring monetary gain or something that gives me a false sense of security about the future? Regrettably, Achan disobeys the command of God and chooses to take and hide these items in his tent. At this point I feel deeply uneasy, because this shows how our disobedience can cost others, possibly even their lives. Sadly, he causes defeat in the next battle in the conquest of the Promised Land which results in 36 people loosing their lives.

We should never come under the illusion that we can hide things from God. This story demonstrates the seriousness of disobeying God and thinking we can get away with it as long as no one knows. Joshua understands that something is wrong when they are defeated at Ai but he doesn’t know what. So, he goes in search of an answer from God. Joshua knows that God can see what he can’t and he relies on God to show him who is causing the problem. Notice also that when Achan confesses, Joshua first checks that his story is true before Achan must pay the consequence. Joshua describes in detail what Achan did as shameful and the shocking conclusion to not only Achan’s life but also the lives of his family, livestock and everything in his possession! What a high price to pay for greed and desire for things that God has commanded me to go no where near! I know the pain of confessing my sin and realizing the shamefulness of my behaviour. Why do we make the ignorant assumption that we can take what God has clearly labeled as off limits!

Seeing the effect of Achan’s sin on God’s reputation hurts Joshua because it allows God’s enemies an occasion to trample on His honour. They now can use this as evidence to suppose God’s weakness or inability to save His people! Thankfully God is not finished yet. Although this leads to a much more complicated battle plan, involving an ambush and all the Israelites instead of a select few, God and Joshua are determined to complete what they have started. (Note that no ambush was needed at Jericho, so don’t second-guess God’s methods in your life Rob P!) What really blows me away is that this time God even wants to share the booty with His people! – couldn’t you just have waited a bit longer Achan then you would be able to share without reserve or guilt the blessing of God’s victory in your life? Proverbs has a verse which tells me that the blessing of the Lord enriches and He adds no sorrow to it! (KJV) Because that’s God’s heart and He longs to share His good things with us, when it’s not dangerous to us! How incredibly good God is to us and His wisdom is so far beyond our limited understanding!

The ending is an encouraging application of the importance of knowing God’s requirements for our life. Here Joshua carefully carves the words of the law on some stones and reads ALL the words to ALL the people, children and strangers of Israel! Joshua, as the leader, does exactly what God told him to do. What a blessing it is to have leaders that obey and follow everything God tells them to do. I trust the bible is becoming more precious and important to all of us as we daily carve out time in our busy lives to read it! What a privilege it is to be chosen by God for a conquest of the impossible. However, let the story of Achan be a serious reminder of the consequences of our impatience and a choice to follow our desires rather than God’s command in our lives. I hope you will choose today to obey God and find the overflowing blessing His success can bring.

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