Get Up!

Get Up!

The Israelites conquered Jericho easily, thus the people of Ai should have been no match for the Israelites. After all, the spies Joshua sent to scout out the land told him there wasn’t even a reason to send the whole army against such a small city. Joshua listened to his spies, and about 3,000 Israelites went out against Ai. But “the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent” (Josh 7:5).

Joshua fell on his face and complained to God. He couldn’t understand how Yahweh could allow such a thing to happen when he had promised his people complete and utter victory. As Joshua was moping on the ground, the Lord said to him, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned” (Josh 7:10-11). Achan, of course, had taken spoil from Jericho God had forbidden the soldiers to take, and his sin brought disaster on Israel.

God had not abandoned his people. Disaster had not befallen the Israelites at Ai because Yahweh was impotent to save. Brave Israelite soldiers did not fall on the battlefield because the Lord did not care. Israel was suffering the consequences of sin—sin about which God had warned them—and God didn’t want to listen to Joshua bellyache because he had to suffer the consequences of sin.

How many times do people bellyache when they suffer for their sins? If we’re completely honest, many (if not all) of us have moped on the floor like Joshua when we faced consequences for our sins (I certainly have). I wonder if perhaps we don’t need to tell ourselves, and, if God himself wouldn’t say to us, “Get up!”

Jesus showed great compassion toward sinners (e.g., the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, and the woman who anointed him with oil), and I don’t wish to diminish his compassion one iota. However, all Israel was told disaster would come if they kept some of the spoil for themselves, and no one should be surprised disaster came. We’re warned over and over and over and over again about the consequences of sin. The best way to avoid those consequences is to lean on Jesus and not sin in the first place.

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal 6:7).

This article was originally written by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., for the weekly newsletter at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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