Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Surety of Obedience

Almost everyone knows the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho: God told the Israelites to march around the city for seven days and on the seventh day march around seven times and on the seventh time to give a mighty shout and the walls of Jericho would fall. The Israelites did this, and guess what, the walls of Jericho fell!

But how many of us know what happens next?

Well, here it is, in a nutshell. One of the Israelites (Achan, son of Karmi) stole jewelry and valuables from Jericho, even though God had told them to destroy everything in the city (except Rahab and her family). Of course, God was angry that someone disobeyed Him, so he was not with Israel when they battled against Ai (the first time) and they were severely defeated. Israel lost the battle because of Achan's dishonesty.

What can we learn from this? There are two halves of this story: the surety of victory when we are obedient to God's every command, and the surety of defeat when we disobey God. And this is not to say God will not be faithful to us; God always keeps his side of His covenant with us, but there are consequencs when we break ours. Israel destroyed Jericho not through its might or the power of its army, but by its obedience to God. That obedience gave them the ability to defeat the city of Jericho even though the entire city was on lockdown because of them. Similarly, when we face situations where our victory or our breakthrough seems to be locked up tight against us, it is through God's power and our obedience to him that we are able to prevail.

And there is more than just a lesson in obedience to be learned from the defeat at Ai. This passage is also a reminder of who God is and how much we need him. Achan focused on the material gain of the victory and not its spiritual significance, missing the whole point and purpose of them defeating Jericho. The destruction of Jericho was not simply for them to possess the land, or enslave its people or take its valuables, like they did with almost every other city they defeated. The point of this particular exercise was to show the strength of obedience to God.

And so we learn this: in some of our "battles" in life, the purpose of the defeat of the enemy is not for you to gain something tangible, but it is an exercise in faith. Next time you face a Jericho, remember that its defeat comes by your obedience,  but don't get so caught up in what you can gain from the defeat that you miss the spiritual significance of it: that God can break down those walls that seem insurmountable.

Be blessed and shine faithfully.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this timely reminder about obedience. Thank you for your obedience and I hope that when all else around you looks like it's failing that you will be encouraged to look up with the assurance that God does all things (well) but He can't fail. Continue to be empowered and encouraged as you follow Him. Be blessed.


A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! -Prov 15:23