Facing a Setback


Daily Bible Reading – Joshua 7,8; Psalm 69; 1 Corinthians 5

Today’s Key Passage – Joshua 7:1-12

Yesterday we read about the Israelites battle with Jericho in which God handed them a victory.  In today’s key passage, we see a slightly different outcome.  After defeating the army at Jericho, the Israelites turned their sites on Ai.  As he did with Jericho, Joshua sent spies to see what Ai was like and to get a report about the opposing forces.  The spies returned and told Joshua that there were only a few fighting men in Ai and that the Israelites would not have to use all of their forces, so Joshua decided to only send about three thousand men to take Ai.  But according to Joshua 7:4-5, the Israelites “were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them.”  So, what was different this time?  Why were the Israelites able to defeat the mighty forces at Jericho but were routed by the small forces in Ai?

There were two main problems that caused the Israelites to face a setback in Ai.  First, there was the sin of Achan.  When Israel was going to take Jericho, God demanded that all of the “devoted things” there (all of the plunder from Jericho) was to be destroyed.  God demanded that none of the items found in Jericho be kept by any of the Israelites, but Achan went against God’s directions and decided to keep a robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and fifty shekels of gold.  By Achan’s own admission in 7:21, he “coveted them and took them”.  Sometimes people tend to rationalize that a single sin is not all that damaging, but here we see that this single sin was disastrous.  Achan’s sin caused God’s anger to burn against the Israelites.  Because of this single sin, God was not with the Israelites when they attacked Ai.

The second problem was that Joshua decided to attack Ai without first consulting God.  The only reason the Israelites defeated Jericho was because God was on their side, but when they faced a much less intimidating opponent in Ai, Joshua relied on the strength of his own army.  Does this sound familiar to you?  For most people, we are quick to consult God when we are facing a difficult task.  We pray for His help and we pray for His protection.  When it comes to a relatively easy task, though, we have a tendency to try to go it alone.  We try to conquer the easy tasks by our own strength, almost as if we are trying to “save” the strength of God for more important issues.  God, however, wants us to seek Him in everything we do.  He wants us to seek His help and protection no matter how easy the task may seem.  Since Joshua did not do this, God was not with the Israelites when they attacked Ai.

Finally, we can learn a lot about dealing with setbacks by Joshua’s reaction to losing the battle in Ai.  After hearing about the defeat, “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.”  (Joshua 7:6)  (In those days, tearing of clothes and sprinkling dust on your head were signs of mourning.)  When we face a setback, we should immediately turn back to God.  We should seek him to find out what happened.  We should search ourselves to see if we have any hidden sin that might be the culprit, and if we find anything sinful within us, we should destroy it completely.  Then we should wait patiently for God to provide us with direction on what to do next.  This is what Joshua did following his setback in Ai, and it is what we should do when we face a setback.  Do not allow a setback to be your undoing.  When you fall, get back up again and seek God’s council.  He will help you get up, and He will help you move forward.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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Posted on March 20, 2013, in 06 - Joshua and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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