Monday, January 31, 2011

Joshua - Man-made Decisions = Man-made consequences.

It’s one of the coolest stories in the Bible. Check this out:

And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy.

And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us. And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you? And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye?

And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the LORD thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth. Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us. This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy: And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey.

And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.
And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them.
Joshua 9:3-15

It’s interesting to watch your team get hoodwinked isn’t it?Part of me always thinks that the story should end shortly after their little speech about how old and worn out their stuff is with Joshua saying “Oh ye vile men! Why do ye think to deceive us?!”

But no, instead Joshua makes peace with them and swears oaths to not kill them.

To me this story is a plumb line to get me lined right back up with the credit I give out to certain people. Joshua… he was just a man. The things, the amazing things he did, were all done by the Lord through him. That important verse that says they “asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD” tells me Joshua made a decision on his own. And when you have man-made decisions you get man-made consequences.

There are a lot of stories about leaders that have fallen, singers that lied about diseases, lust and greed over-riding pastors and evangelists good senses. But there are a lot of those same stories in the Bible. Anyone that would disagree with that obviously hasn’t read anything about King David. And I think perhaps we just make them out to be so much more than what they are for the exact same -and wrong- reason.

You see, it kills me that Joshua made a mistake – but not for the right reason. Once again – just like I complained about in the Trouble with Narnia – I want Joshua to be the main character. I want Joshua to be the hero, and be perfect, and wise and smart and good. But the story (even though the book bears his name) isn’t about him. It’s still about the LORD. He failed to inquire of the Lord. Joshua is just a man. And he forgot himself, just for a moment, and made a man-made decision.

I’ve made decisions in my life that turned out to have man-made consequences. They aren’t all horrible decisions that ended up with me broke or jobless or anything like that. They just weren’t decisions that would have been made had I taken time to seek counsel at the mouth of the Lord. They fail to bring out the fullness of His riches and glory in my life.

I’ve also followed the counsel at the mouth of the Lord and had to struggle through some God-made circumstances for me.

We often assume if bad things happen that we made a mistake, and if good things happen God is happy with us. But that isn’t the example we see from scripture all too often. God leads us into rough waters, bad timings, impossible circumstances that break us down. And He does it all, absolutely, for His own glory.

And whether we'll admit it or not, we try and make good things happen for our glory.
There are a lot of decisions that need to be made in life, some of them – like making an agreement with a neighbor you think lives too far off to see again – seem inconsequential; but all need to be made under the counsel of the Lord.

I’ve got a lot of decisions up my sleeve in the coming year. And I’m, honestly, begging God for answers. The things I seem to be getting back as a response just don’t seem to make sense with the direction I think we’re going. I need wisdom and understanding, faith, and to keep pressing in until I see what He’s saying and when He’s saying it for. This word from Joshua is timely, just because I appreciated the reminder – seek that counsel.

Unsaid, but implied so clearly in that verse is this one solid truth: if they had sought that counsel, He would have given it.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Matthew 7:7

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