What Price Victory?

"But the LORD said to Joshua, 'I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors." Joshua 6:2

The first chapter of Joshua records God telling this warrior He would be with him as he led the people of Israel to victory over the people occupying the land of promise.

"Moses my servant is dead. Therefore the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: 'Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you...No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you." Joshua 1:1-3, 5

Joshua and the children of Israel obeyed God's command and were rewarded with an incredible victory. They had done everything right. The land, everywhere they would set their feet, would become theirs. Why? It wasn't because they were good people.

"Listen, O Israel! Today you are about to cross the Jordan River to take over the land belonging to nations much greater and more powerful than you...Recognize today that the LORD your God is the one who will cross over ahead of you like a devouring fire to destroy them. He will subdue them so that you will quickly conquer them and drive them out, just as the LORD has promised. After the LORD your God has done this for you, don't say in your hearts, 'The LORD has given us this land because we are such good people!' No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that He is pushing them out of your way. It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land. The LORD your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of their wickedness, and to fulfill the oath He swore to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Deuteronomy 9:1, 3-5

They were to have victory because of God's promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God was with them. He would put fear in the hearts of the people in the land. He would go before them and they would quickly conquer and drive out the people currently there. Jericho was certainly proof of God's promise. They were invincible. Victory would be theirs in every battle, every test. Then came Ai. . . .

"The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away." Joshua 7:5

Incredible victory to devastating defeat, a defeat that got their attention. They desperately sought God as to the reason for their shame. They recognized they failed to honor His name, but did they also indulge a little in the "blame game?" 

"Oh, Sovereign LORD, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us?" Joshua 7:7a

Sadly, I'm acquainted with that game. As a younger person, I usually questioned God when situations didn't turn out the way I hoped. "Why, God, did You let this happen." God's answers have always been instructive. Sometimes I've heard, "you need to wait" (Psalm 27:14). Other times He's reminded me His way is better than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9), and sometimes He's just said, "This is your plan, not mine." 

When I impatiently move from the locker room to the playing field and suffer defeat, God's answer is almost always, "There's sin in the camp." There's sin (self-interest) hidden somewhere in my heart, or my motives, or my request.

No one in Israel, aside from Achan's family, knew someone had been disobedient until God identified the sin (and the sinner). Achan's covetousness infected his whole family. Left unexposed and unjudged his sin would infect the whole nation. God warned He would not remain with them if the nation refused to deal with the sin and follow His commandments.

Our Heavenly Father loves us too much to let us think we can get away with sin and still have fellowship with Him, still walk in His blessing of victory. Over time, and many trials, He's changed me. My cry of "why?" has lost its questioning and accusatory tone. Instead, it has become a desperate surrender that recognizes the blame for defeat most often lies with me.

The price for victory is death. In Joshua, it was the death of Achan and his entire family. In my life, it is death to self-sovereignty.   The Apostle Paul writes:

"We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with Him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and He will never die again. Death no longer has any power over Him. When He died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that He lives, He lives for the glory of  God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus." Romans 6:6-11

Jesus accomplished salvation for you and me when He spilled his lifeblood on the cross as our perfect sacrifice. His death broke the power of sin over you...over me. His Resurrection freed us. The power of life that lifted Him from the grave, gives us the power to override our flawed natures and live for the glory of God.

Do any of you like Math? Try these and see if they aren't absolutes.
Conviction plus Repentance equals Restoration.
God over me equals Glory.

Offered by Marilyn Allison