Words that scorch the pages of the Bible

He knelt in prayer for hours.

This Godly man is the commander of his nation. He isn’t alone as he prays, the country’s leaders kneel with him. It seems they’ve started a war and have just lost a strategic battle. They’re now convinced it’s the end for their nation, that they’ll all soon die at the hands of the enemy.

The man is Joshua, a warrior chosen by God to lead Israel. After Moses brings God’s people to the Promised Land, Moses dies. Joshua then is tasked with crossing the Jordan River, invading the Promised Land, and conquering it.

Jericho is Joshua’s first victory. An easy one—remember how the city walls came tumbling down?

Joshua then sends spies to the city of Ai, his next conquest. The spies advise him that 2,000-3,000 men can take Ai.

But that doesn’t happen.

When the Hebrews arrive at Ai’s city gate, they’re routed, chased, and 36 men are struck down.

The failure devastates the Hebrews. They’re now vulnerable to a massive attack by all their enemies across the land.

This is when Joshua and Israel’s elders kneel before God. Joshua sadly says that Israel shouldn’t have started this war.

“Why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us?” Joshua asks God. “If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan.”

Do you see Joshua stopping to ask God whether he or his men did something wrong?


Joshua is saying, “Why have you done this to us?” He’s blaming God.

“The Canaanites and other people of the country will hear about this,” Joshua says. “They will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth.”

How does the Lord respond? His words will jolt you.

“Get up!” God fiercely says.

Can’t you feel the Lord’s anger scorching the pages of the Bible?

“Get up!” There’s blame all right. “Get up!” God says, letting Joshua know that an Israelite has sinned against Him. Joshua 7:1-11

Joshua tells the Hebrews the Lord’s words:

“In the morning present yourself tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan, the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family, and the family God choose shall come forward man by man.” Joshua 7:14-15

The next day the wrongdoer hides among the Hebrews. Apparently, he thinks God can’t pick him from the crowd.

So, let’s see.

First, the Lord chooses Judah from the 12 tribes. Then He selects one of Judah’s clans. Joshua then brings every family of that clan forward, and the Lord chooses Zimri’s family. Joshua brings Zimri and his sons and grandsons forward, and Achan is chosen.

Achan still won’t confess.

Joshua confronts him, needing to know what Achan has done. How else can Joshua right the wrong?

Achan finally admits to stealing silver that belonged to God and a valuable garment that was forbidden. He then buried them inside his tent.

Joshua recovers the items, and the nation deals with Achan. He and his family are stoned. Whether the stoning was deadly or to run them off is unclear—there’s an ongoing debate among scholars as to the meaning of the specific wording in the Hebrew.

Whatever happened to Achan, his sin was more serious than just stealing. Achan caused the death of Hebrews at Ai and put the future of God’s people in jeopardy. Joshua 7:16-26

In the second attack on Ai, Joshua easily prevails. What Joshua should have done after the first battle was to ask if his people were right with God.

“Get up!” God fiercely said to Joshua, but those words aren’t just for 3,000 years ago. God speaks them today.

Most of you who read the words I pen each week are like Joshua. You dearly love the Lord. You want His will. But the time will come when the finest of Christians will blame Him for a mess they’ve created.

“Get up!”

Examine your life. Have you done everything that He’s asked of you?

God knows.

Nothing will go right for you if you defy Him. You’ll lose your blessings as surely as the Hebrews lost theirs.

Go now and do what you know you should be doing.

“Get up!”

Copyright (c) 2020 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved. The Rev. Mathews is an attorney, faith columnist, and the author of “Reaching to God.” Write to her at [email protected]

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