The Lord said to Joshua: “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned … That is why they 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.” Joshua 7:10-12
I was reminded by this passage recently that God is really black and white about sin, whereas we can even stop noticing it, and may end up wondering why we find ourselves sleep-walking into trouble. How do we get so desensitised, so fast, when we know God has a better path of blessing and fulfilment laid out for us?
Joshua had just seen two jaw-dropping miracles from God, based on obedience: the River Jordan stopped flowing when the priests followed God’s instructions to step into it, and the huge walls of Jericho collapsed when the army followed God’s illogical battle plan in every detail.
But immediately complacency and disobedience set in! Against instructions, one man kept items from Jericho, and at the next city, the Israelites were easily defeated – some died in battle, and Joshua was soon on his face in the dust, wailing to God that they should never have crossed the Jordan.
God’s reply was painfully direct: if they had been obedient, all would have gone ahead smoothly according to God’s plan, but because one person crossed the red line into disobedience, the blessing planned by God was put on hold, the course of history was changed, innocent people died, and suddenly the Israelites looked vulnerable.
Wait a minute, how might that apply in our lives? Of course, the same pattern occurs throughout the Old Testament, from the Garden of Eden to the Flood, from Sodom and Gomorrah to Judges and onwards – but are we so familiar with those stories that we complacently fail to apply the same principles to ourselves? Are we routinely blocking God’s planned blessings and harming innocent people around us by forgetting that we are being called to a higher standard and giving ourselves permission to continue with patterns that don’t meet it?
Let us instead seek a fresh start by:
- Thanking God for His grace in dealing with our inability to be and remain obedient; and,
- Asking God to open our eyes and soften our conscience to His fresh perspective on whatever idols and stumbling blocks we have set up in our lives.