April 21: The Misnomer about God’s Will
Joshua 7:1–8:35; 2 Corinthians 10:1–8; Psalm 49:1–20
We often hear a great misnomer about following God’s will. It usually sounds something like this: “God has commanded me to do x, so I’m going to go into x blindly without fear.” A phrase like this has elements of great truth—faith should carry us. But it’s missing a piece.
Sometimes God instructs us to follow Him quickly and blindly. When that’s the case, we should certainly do it. However, His commands should almost always be combined with the abilities that He has given us, including logic and rationality. We have to find the balance. If we get too rational, it can be at the detriment of God’s will; we can reason ourselves out of taking the risks God wants us to take.
Joshua, the leader of the Israelites after Moses, is a great example of proper behavior within God’s will. He learned from Moses and led out of that strength and experience, but he was led by the Spirit (Deut 34:9–12). He also did the proper legwork, even though he knew that God had guaranteed success if he and the people were faithful.
We see a glimpse into this strategy in Josh 7:2–5, the battle of Ai. Joshua sent spies into enemy territory before invading it. He then paced the troops by sending only a small regiment at first (Josh 7:3). Despite his proper behavior, Joshua was unsuccessful because of the people’s disobedience (Josh 7:1).
After this, we see the pain that Joshua felt as a result of the people’s spiritual failures (Josh 7:6–9). Yahweh didn’t allow for this to continue, though, because He was aware of the root cause of the problem; God called Joshua to find it and change it, so he did (Josh 7:10–26).
Joshua shows us what it means to follow God’s will: receive a call, be trained, act out of wisdom and preparation, accept defeat when it comes, seek Yahweh’s will again to fix it, and then confront the problem head on. The result: success (Josh 8:1–29). Following their victory, Joshua rededicated himself and those he led to Yahweh (Josh 8:30–35).
If we understood how to function within God’s will, we would be much more successful for God. We would see great and miraculous things happen. And this understanding is not just reserved for the leader, but for all people.
What patterns of following God’s will do you need to change? How have you misunderstood what it means to live for Him?
JOHN D. BARRY
- But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the excommunicate thing: for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah, took of the excommunicate thing: wherefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the East side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up, and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai, And returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up, but let as it were two to three thousand men go up, and smite Ai, and make not all the people to labor thither, for they are few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men, and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them upon a thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted away like water. Then Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the Ark of the Lord, until the eventide, he, and the Elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the land of the Amorites, and to destroy us? would God we had been content to dwell on the other side Jordan. Oh Lord what shall I say, when Israel turn their backs before their enemies? For the Canaanites, and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall compass us, and destroy our name out of the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy mighty Name? And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up: wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have transgressed my covenant, which I commanded them: for they have even taken of teh excommunicate thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and have put it even with their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel cannot stand before their enemies: but have turned their backs before their enemies, because they be execrable: neither will I be with you anymore, except ye destroy the excommunicate from among you. Up therefore, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an execrable thing among you, O Israel, therefore ye cannot stand against your enemies, until ye have put the execrable thing from among you. In the morning therefore ye shall come according to your tribes, and the tribe which the Lord taketh, shall come according to the famileis: and the family which the Lord shall take, shall come by the households: and the household which the Lord shall take, shall come man by man. And he that is taken with the excommunicate thing, shall be burnt with fire, he, and all that he hath, because he hath transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel. So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes: and the tribe of Judah was taken. And he brought the families of Judah, and took the family of the Zarhites, and he brought the family of the Zarhites, man by man, and Zabdi was taken. And he brought his household, man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah was taken. Then Joshua said unto Achan, My son, I beseech thee, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him, and show me now what thou hast done: hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus, and thus have I done. I saw among the spoil a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels of weight, and I covered them, and took them: and behold, they lie hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. Then Joshua sent messengers, which ran unto the tent, and behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. Therefore they took them out of teh tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them before the Lord. Then Josahua took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and all Israel with him, brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, In as much as thou hast troubled us, the Lord shall trouble thee this day: and all Israel threw stones at him, and burned them with fire, and stoned them with stones. And they cast upon him a great heap of stones unto this day: and so the Lord turned from his fierce wrath: therefore he called the name of that place, The valley of Achor, unto this day. After, the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou faint hearted: take all the men of war with thee and arise, and go to Ai: behold, I have given into thine hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land. And thou shalt do to Ai and to the king thereof, as thou didst unto Jericho and to the king thereof: nevertheless the spoil thereof and the cattle thereof shall ye take unto you for a prey: thou shalt lie in wait against the city on the back side thereof. Then Joshua arose, and all the men of war to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand strong men, and valiant, and sent them away by night. And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall ie in wait against the city on the back side of the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all in a readiness. And I and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and when they shall come out against us, as they did at the first time, then will we flee before them. For they will come out after us, till we have brought them out of the city: for they will say, They flee before us as at the first time: so we will flee before them. Then you shall rise up from lying in wait and destroy the city: for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand. And when ye have taken the city, ye shall set it on fire: according to the commandment of the Lord shall ye do: behold, I have charged you. Joshua then sent them forth, and they went to lie in wait, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the West side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people. And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people: and he and the Elders of Israel went up before the people against Ai. Also all the men of war that were with him went up and draw near, and came against the city, and pitched on the North side of Ai: and there was a valley between them and Ai. And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in wait between Bethel and Ai on the West side of the city. And the people set all the host that was on the North side against the city, and the liars in wait on the West, against the city: and Joshua went the same night into the midst of the valley. And when the king of Ai saw it, then the men of the city hasted and rose up early, and went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at the time appointed, before the plain: for he knew not that any lay in wait against him on the back side of the city. Then Joshua and all Israel as beaten before them, fled by the way of the wilderness. And all the people of the city were called togehter to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away out of the city So that there was not a man left in Ai, nor in Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel. Then the Lord said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thine hand, toward Ai: for I will give it into thine hand: and Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand, toward the city. And they that lay in wait, arose quickly out of their lace, and ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted, and set the city on fire. And the men of Ai looked behind them, and saw it: for lo, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: for the people that fled into the wilderness, turned back upon the pursuers. When Joshua and all Israel saw that they that lay in wait, had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city mounted up, then they turned again and slew the men of Ai. Also the otehr issued out of the city against them: so were they in the midst of Israel, these being on the one side, and the rest on the other side: and they slew them, so that they let none of them remain nor escape. And the King of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua. And when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, that is, in the wilderness where they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword. And all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai. For Joshua drew not his hand back again which he had stretched out with the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. Only the cattle and the spoil of this city, Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the Lord, which he commanded Joshua. And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap forever, and a wilderness unto this day. And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree, unto the evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcass down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and lay thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day. Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel, in mount Ebal, As Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the Law of Moses, an altar of whole stone, over which no man had lift an iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. Also he wrote ther upon the stones, a rehearsal of the Law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. And all Israel (and their Elders, and officers and their Judges stood on this side of the Ark, and on that side, before the Priests of the Levites, which bare the Ark of the covenant of the Lord) as well the stranger, as he that is born in the country: half of them were over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the children of Israel. Then afterward he read all the words of the Law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded, which Joshua read not before all the Congregation of Israel, as well before the women and the children, as the stranger that was conversant among them. Joshua 7:1–8:35
- Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness, and gentleness of Christ, which when I am present among you am base, but am bold toward you being absent: And this I require you, that I need not to be bold when I am present, with that same confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which esteem us as though we walked according to the flesh. Nevertheless, though we walk in the flesh, yet we do not war after the flesh. (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, to cast down holds.) Casting down the imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, And having read the vengeance against all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. Look ye on things after the appearance? If any man trust in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again of himself, that as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should have no shame. 2 Corinthians 10:1–8
- Hear this all ye people: give ear, all ye that dwell in the world. As well low as high, both rich and poor. My mouth shall speak of wisdom, and the meditation of mine heart is of knowledge. I will incline mine ear to a parable, and utter my grave matter upon the harp. Wherefore should I fear in the evil days, when iniquity shall compass me about, as at mine heels? They trust in their goods, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches. Yet a man can by no means redeem his brother: he cannot give his ransom to God. (So precious is the redemption of their souls, and the continuance forever) That he may live still forever, and not see the grave. For he seeth that wise men die: and also that the ignorant and foolish perish, and leave their riches for others. Yet they think their houses and their habitations shall continue forever, even from generation to generation, and call their lands by their names. But man shall not continue in honor; he is like the beasts that die. This their way uttereth their foolishness; yet their posterity delight in their talk. Selah. Like sheep they lie in grave; death devoureth them; and the righteous shall have domination over them in the morning; for their beauty shall consume, when they shall go from their house to grave. But God shall deliver my soul from the power of the grave; for he will receive me. Selah. Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, and when the glory of his house is increased. For he shall take nothing away, when he dieth, neither shall his pomp descend after him. For while he lived, he rejoiced himself; and men will praise thee, when thou makest much of thyself. He shall enter into the generation of his fathers, and they shall not live forever. Man is in honor; and understandeth not; he is like to beasts that perish. Psalm 49:1–20