“Then Joshua ripped his clothes. He and the Israelite elders fell on their faces to the ground in front of the ark of the Lord until evening and threw dirt upon their heads. Joshua said, ‘O Lord God, why did You bring this people across the Jordan to give us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to dwell on the other side of the Jordan!'” (Josh. 7:6-7).
God parted the Jordan River – and they marched across. It was supernatural! They followed God’s plan – and Jericho fell. It was supernatural! Then, they lost a battle they should have won at Ai – and were confused. The answer, still: It was supernatural.
Naturally speaking, this little battle had become a big deal with potentially dire consequences. The Israelites were scared to death. The embarrassing defeat at Ai would only embolden their enemies and spell their doom. And to make matters worse, the defeat blindsided them! The Israelites were on a roll, riding high on the glory of God and His victory against overwhelming odds. This is what Joshua had faith for – and it had finally happened! After forty years of preparation, by God’s sovereign grace, they were in the land promised to them. It was historic! Nothing like this had happened since God cut covenant with Abraham. And suddenly, everything came to a screeching halt.
Have you ever felt like Joshua? Has God given you faith for something that seemed impossible? Did you wait for a long time to see it happen – and then something went wrong? Every place his foot touched was to be Joshua’s, but now, with the defeat at Ai … well … he didn’t know what to think.
In our day, we would call this a “faith crisis.” Sadly, many Christians have never had one, because they risk very little in serving God. So, those who stay in their comfort zones may have trouble relating. They are like the eleven who were in the boat, while Peter was out walking on the water. When he had his “faith crisis” out on the lake, they were safe and dry. So, naturally, it would be hard to relate. Truth be told, as Peter began to sink, he may envied the ones who stayed in the boat! This is where Joshua was… When things went wrong at Ai, he wished he had stayed on the other side of the Jordan.
The fact of the matter is this: Those who have forsaken all to serve God, who have stepped out of the boat to follow Him, will probably have trials others won’t. God allowed Joshua to get blindsided by his defeat at Ai; it could happen to us, too. Those who are walking supernaturally will receive supernatural correction. These are the times when we need to ask, “Why, God?”
If we are to walk with Him, we have a genuine need to know what went wrong or what we should be learning or doing differently. The good news is this: God wants to tell us! If, like Joshua, we lay hold of Him through fervent prayer, we will find the answers we need. If we ask in faith with a right heart, humbly and honestly appealing to Him, we will learn more about God – and ourselves – in the process.
Joshua was a good example, as he walked through this incident with integrity. Obviously, something was wrong, but he was not arrogant enough to think he could figure it out or fix it. Joshua was shocked and may have been angry about being blindsided, but he didn’t judge God or himself or his troops. He didn’t play the blame game – or act on his fear. Joshua was a good example, because he didn’t react in the natural to supernatural correction.
Joshua was humble enough to know that God, Himself had to enlighten him. So, he desperately sought the Lord with all his heart. He and his elders tore their garments, threw dirt on their heads, and fell down before the ark of God’s presence. They stayed there all day until evening, until they got their answer. Joshua and his elders turned to God with great desperation, because all their eggs were in His basket. They served Him; He was the One they needed to hear.
Joshua and his elders were like the twelve, when following Jesus took an unexpected turn. All of a sudden, He was saying crazy things that offended many. Jesus was saying that people had to eat His body and drink His blood to belong to Him – and disciples were leaving by the droves! When He turned to the twelve to ask if they, too, were going to leave, “Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69) There was nowhere else to turn, because there was no One else to turn to! Joshua was in the same place; he was desperate for God to come through with an answer, because he totally relied upon Him. Joshua was all in; he had to hear.
To many of us, this type of passionate and persistent prayer may seem foreign. Even though James 5:16 tells us that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much,” there don’t seem to be many who pray this way. Certainly, we want our prayers to “avail much,” but fervency is not something we can manufacture. If we don’t pray this way, it’s not because we don’t want to! Probably, it’s because we don’t need to…
Most of the time, we have alternative sources and other options to hearing directly from God. So, we haven’t learned to pray that way. Besides, it isn’t really necessary. We have friends (on and off FB) that we can ask for advice, YouTube videos, an Internet for research, and experts to rely upon. Also, we have sermons at church and a Bible to read, but do we pursue God, like Joshua did? While He can speak to us through each of these avenues, I believe He longs for more. Do we?
Joshua had one Source; if God didn’t respond, they were toast. Peter had to keep his eyes on Jesus – or he’d sink.The twelve, like Joshua and Peter, also had one Source – not because they had to but because they chose to. They had come to know Jesus and put their complete trust in Him. He alone had the words of eternal life; He was the Messiah. We may know Jesus, too, but are all of our eggs in His basket? Do we know Him well enough to have “one Source?”
Walking with God is an invitation to the supernatural. For mortal man to fellowship with God Almighty, something is bound to go wrong! There will be things we don’t understand, mistakes we will make, and new ways to learn. Joshua lost the battle at Ai and Peter almost sank. That’s why many say that we should spell ‘faith’ like this: R-I-S-K!
On the other hand, if we are content to stay in our comfort zones, hearing directly from God may become more of an accessory to our walk than the core of it. Why cry out to God all day and night, if we don’t have to? There are other options and alternative sources. Staying in the boat or on the other side of the Jordan can be appealing, but I want more. Don’t you?
Are you hungry for a supernatural walk with God? Have you come to know that He, alone, is Messiah and has the words of eternal life? If so, He may be calling you to walk on the water with Him. Do you have the faith to see Him in the battle? Has He said that every place your foot goes will be yours? If so, He may be calling you to conquer in His name! If this is how you want to live, count on it; you will encounter difficulties. Peter did. Joshua did. We shouldn’t be surprised if we do, too. It is then, especially, that we must ask, “Why, God?” and get His answers.
The good news is this: We will find Him right where Joshua did, on our knees!