Joshua and the Israelite leaders’ response to the shock defeat at Ai in Joshua 7 intrigues me and I find myself hearing so many echoes of our responses to life’s issues, even in this day. With ripped garments and dust on their heads, Joshua and the leaders threw themselves down before the Ark. They began with the simple question, “Why?” But it wasn’t, “Why has this happened?” No, it was, “Why did you bring us here so we could be killed?” Immediately their blame was on God. He said He would protect them and give them victory, so why didn’t He?
They then continued with comments such as:
“If only we had been content where we were.” – If only I had stayed in the safe but unfulfilled place.
“What am I going to say to everyone now?” - This is humiliating. My whole leadership/being is under question.
“Now we will be wiped of the face of the earth.” – Looking at the absolute worst case scenario!
“Then what will happen to Your great Name?” – It is You who will bear the brunt of this, God!
This whole tirade from Joshua to God highlights a very familiar pattern... blame God, say it would have been easier to do it my way and not move forward at all, I’m now embarrassed, my life’s in disarray and everything is going to fall apart. And it’s all God’s fault and He deserves to lose out too! It’s hard not to picture my young son having a temper tantrum at this point!
I love God’s response - “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this?” As much as I can hear the resonance of a temper tantrum of my son, I can then hear a resonance of my response to him, “Get up and look at me. I want to talk to you and I can’t possibly communicate with you when you are on your face screaming all sorts of hysteria!”
It’s then that God speaks and cuts through the endless questioning, blaming and self-pitying. ‘Israel has sinned and broken my covenant!’ (Joshua 7:11). He then goes on to explain the exact nature of the sin and how it’s hidden. Once this was out in the open the sin was dealt with and the Israelites were then able to defeat Ai.
When we find ourselves in a ‘face-down’ tirade towards God, maybe we too could get up from that self-focussed place and listen to what He wants to bring from the hidden places in our lives. He has no problem answering the ‘why’ questions, even Jesus asked ‘Why?’ on the cross. That said, if you ask the question you need to be prepared to hear the answer and then deal with it, otherwise nothing will change.
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