God’s Will Must Be Done God’s Way.
Joshua 7-8, Acts 9
Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction.I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. – Joshua 7:12 ESV
The people of Israel had experienced a significant victory over the city of Jericho. It was their first battle in their conquest of the land of Canaan, and God had shown up in a major way, destroying the walls of the city and delivering its inhabitants into the hands of the Israelites. But God had placed conditions and restrictions on the people, demanding that they devote everything in the city to Him. It was all to be destroyed. And all the silver and gold, every vessel of bronze and iron was to be separated out, dedicated to God, and placed in the treasury of the Tabernacle. But one man refused to play by God’s rules. Achan decided to disobey God and satisfy his lustful desires by stealing a cloak, as well as some silver and gold, hiding it all away in his tent. But God knew. And as long as this sin went unconfessed, the people would be incapable of doing God’s will. The sin of one man had infected the camp, turning the face of God against them. So when Joshua sent out a small contingent of men to take the much-smaller city of Ai, he was shocked when what should have been an easy victory turned into a major defeat. In his mind, they had simply been doing the will of God by taking the land from its inhabitants. But their efforts had failed. He was confused. He even asked God, “Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us?” (Joshua 7:7 ESV). But God’s will must be done His way. His abiding presence and power was dependent upon Israel’s faithful adherence to His commands.
What does this passage reveal about God?
The problem at Ai was not that they were a more formidable army. It was that unconfessed sin had infected the camp of Israel. Israel had sinned. Yes, one man had committed a solitary act of disobedience to God, but the entire community shared in the guilt. God told Joshua, “Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you” (Joshua 7:11-12 ESV). Even thought Joshua and the people knew nothing about Achan’s crime, and had played no role in it, God was holding them all responsible for it. As long as this sin went undetected and unconfessed, Israel would find it impossible to do God’s will. They would be not be able to stand before their enemies because God refused to be with them. It is impossible to accomplish God’s will without God’s presence and power. And it is impossible to enjoy God’s presence and power if you are unwilling to do things God’s way. Disobedience had brought the discipline of God. Now it was Joshua’s job to deal with the sin in their midst.
What does this passage reveal about man?
In the book of Acts we have recorded the incredible story of Saul’s conversion. This man, who at one time had been a key figure in the persecution of the church, arresting Christians and placing them in prison, had met the resurrected Lord on his way to Damascus. He had a divine encounter and was left blind by the experience. When Ananias, a faithful follower of Christ, received a vision from God to go and restore the sight of Saul, he was shocked and more than a bit reluctant. He knew the reputation of this man. Ananias debated with God regarding Saul, saying, “how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem” (Acts 7:13 ESV). But it was God’s will that Ananias go. It was God’s will that Saul become “a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 7:15 ESV). It was essential that Ananias do the will of God the way God wanted it to be done. In his mind, it all made no sense. It seemed ridiculous and even dangerous. But Ananias obeyed. He did as God told Him to do, in spite of his fears and reservations. Joshua had to do the same thing. He had to listen to God, assemble the entire nation of Israel, and allow God to reveal the source of their sin. Then he had to purge the sin from their midst by destroying Achan, his family, belongings, and all the treasure he had stolen from Jericho. This probably seemed like a harsh punishment to Joshua. After all, Achan had confessed. He admitted that he had sinned against God. But he had not done so willingly and without coercion. So Joshua obeyed God and cleansed the people of Israel from their sin. God’s will had to be done God’s way. And while Ananias might not have understood what God was doing, he had to obey what God was commanding. His obedience resulted in the restoration of Saul’s eyesight and, more importantly, the beginning of Saul’s ministry as God’s messenger of the good news of Jesus Christ. As a result, “the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied” (Acts 9:31 ESV). God’s will done God’s way resulted in God’s blessing.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Once the people of Israel had cleansed the sin from their midst, they experienced the presence of God once again. They were able to defeat the city of Ai with ease. God gave them victory. Ananias, while reluctant to do what God had revealed for him to do, did it any way and got the joy of being a part of God’s divine plan to raise up Saul as His divine instrument. He got to witness the transformation of this man’s life from that of a persecutor of the faith to a bold proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Doing God’s will in God’s way always results in the joy of seeing God’s work being accomplished in our midst. We may not get it at first, but if we trust and obey Him, we will eventually see His will accomplished. Sometimes we fail to witness the power and presence of God because we simply refuse to do the will of God His way.
Father, I want to learn to do Your will Your way. Forgive me for the many times I question Your will and try to talk my way out of it. I confess that I can sometimes be stubborn and hardheaded, wanting to do things my way because they make more sense to me. I can try and twist Your will and cut corners. I can find excuses and create rationales for disobeying you. But if I want to be a witness to Your power, I must learn to do Your will Your way. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men