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You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Joshua 8:2.
We cannot put God in a box and try to decipher how he works, and pin him down to a format. God had told Joshua how to capture the city of Jericho. He and the army were to march around the city once each day for six days, and on the seventh day they should march around the city seven times. At the seventh time they should blow the trumpet and make a loud shout and the walls of the city would fall.
God had also instructed Joshua that everything in Jericho was to be totally destroyed – all the people and the livestock. Moreover, they should not collect any of the spoils from the city, but Achan disobeyed Joshua’s instruction and kept a mantle and some gold and silver for himself. His disobedience led to the Israelites’ defeat in battle and resulted in the destruction of himself and his family.
Achan might have resisted the temptation to keep the contraband goods if he had known in his heart that God would allow them to keep the spoils from Ai, their next city. It just goes to show that when we think we have God down pat, we don’t. The truth is that we don’t get God at one sitting – after one specific instruction and think we have Him and life under the belt. We cannot think that we know God fully and therefore can proceed to live on our own, without consulting him, because we have the instructions right.
God is not a set of instructions or rules. God is a person with whom we have a relationship. He is our Father and Lord and we have to be constantly, daily, minutely in touch with him to know what he requires of us. We don’t just get it and go on. We need hear from him and walk with him daily.
Even with regards to the number of men who would go up to fight against the city of Ai, the Israelites acted on what they saw with the natural eye. They judged in the flesh without consulting God, when they said Ai was small so they only needed only 2000 or 3000 to go up to do battle. God told Joshua after the disaster that all the fighting men should go up to fight against the people of Ai.
The spies that Moses sent out in the wilderness had received God’s judgment because they did not trust God and his ability to give them victory over the giants in the land, even when he told them that he had already given them the land, and that he would fight for them. Now their descendants were also judging their capacity to fight by what they could see with their eyes. They both brooked failure.
Similarly, the same group of Israelites later got in trouble for making a decision without consulting God about the Gibeonites who came to visit them. They believed the Gibeonite men who seemed sincere in their story about having come from a far country and they embraced them, but God was not in it. ‘The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord’ (Joshua 9:14). And they were deceived.
Have you grown tired of consulting God about decisions you have to make and have begun to make decisions on your own? Or do you think you understand the working of God’s heart. Have you created a pattern for yourself (based on your own construction of his ways), which you follow blindly without seeking him? Remember God cannot be contained. He has to be God always. God replied to Job when he questioned his justice:
Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?
Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at every proud man and bring him low,
look at every proud man and humble him,
crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.
(Job 40: 7-14 Amp)
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