From Defeat to Victory: A Lesson from Joshua Part 02
In Part 01, we looked at one of the reasons why life has bends, twists and turns, making the journey longer and harder than expected. In order to minimise and eliminate these roadblocks, it is important to learn and apply the lessons of Scripture.
If you are struggling with unanswered prayer, a roadblock on your normal path, chronically unresolved issues, or a general feeling of failure, read on. You may be experiencing exactly what Joshua did.
One of those lessons is that Joshua and the children of Israel conquered Jericho with ease, even though it was a formidable fortress. However, at their next destination Ai, which was much smaller and thus easier to conquer, they suffered a massive defeat.
The reason? Not the strength of the enemy, but because of corruption in their own heart. Israel sinned because it touched the accursed things. As long as they embraced that which God rejects, He would not be with them and they would fall before their enemies. Whether our enemies are strong or weak, we need God with us at all times.
Let’s learn more about the problem, so that we can apply the solution.
The Accursed Thing Will Defeat You
The Hebrew word for ‘accursed’ is cherem, meaning ‘to ban, devote, or design for total destruction.’ The city of Jericho was cherem, and all within was to be destroyed. However, a man name Achan, the son of Carmi, from the tribe of Judah, after the fall of Jericho, saw a Babylonian garment, silver, and gold. He coveted these accursed things and took them within his own tent. By touching cherem, he brought a curse upon himself and judgment on the entire nation.
The Bible does speak of blessing and cursing. These are real life conditions and they come with a price. According to Deuteronomy 28, when you diligently obey God’s command, you are blessed; but if you disobey, the curses will rain down on you. There are 14 verses of blessing and 54 of curses in that chapter alone.
In our day, we need to be ‘word-wise’ regarding God’s principles. Salvation in Christ is by ‘grace through faith,’ but we are still duty-bound to obey the Lord’s commands (Matthew 7:21). Obedience means holiness, sanctification, and righteousness. Jude verse 23 says the righteous would not even touch the garment soiled by the flesh.
However, to willingly embrace that which God curses will bring terrible consequences, although not necessarily immediately. We are still in an age of grace and God wants to give room for repentance. But we must never forget: we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). Even if we eventually come around, we will lose a lot of ground and our call will only be partially fulfilled, if at all. This is a high price to pay for a few moments of sensuous pleasure.
The remedy: cleanse oneself from the unclean thing. Achan’s sin was discovered, he made a full confession, but unfortunately it was not enough to save him. He and his family were stoned to death in the Valley of Achor, meaning trouble. Embracing cherem is of the ultimate condemnation. Joshua 22:20 summaries the situation well:
Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the cursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.
Ultimately, Joshua led Israel into corporate repentance. Once completed, they went up to Ai a second time and prevailed.
On a positive note, let’s take a moment to focus on Rahab, whose story is in Joshua 2. It was bad enough that she was a harlot. But to add to her condemnation, she came from the accursed city of Jericho, a Canaanite of the land. In essence, she was a condemned woman.
Yet, Rahab did not share the fate of Achan. The reason: she hid the Israelite spies with peace, meaning she exercised faith. She received commendation in both testaments (Joshua 6:17, 25; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25); married a man named Salmon, and they had a child called Boaz, who married another virtuous Gentile, Ruth. Rehab and Ruth are named as an ancestors of the Messiah.
In short, embrace that which God curses and condemnation will come. Or, repent and believe the gospel and you will pass from curse to blessing. Now is the time!