How Victory Can Lead to Defeat

Gary Bird
Joshua 7:3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.

When Joshua led the people of God into the Promised Land, the first test of their faith was defeating the mighty city of Jericho. This large, walled city was well protected by a massive wall, and the Jew were not equipped to fight against such an adversary.

God gave them simple instructions as a plan to defeat this mighty foe. The people were to walk around the wall one time a day for six consecutive days. On the seventh day, they would walk around the wall seven times.

Looking from an outside perspective, this seemed like a suicide mission! The people of Jericho only needed to throw objects or boiling oil on God’s people as they walked by and that would be the end of it. However, that’s not what happened.

Jericho decided to just watch as the Jews marched by their walls those six days. On the seventh day, much to everyone’s surprise, the walls came crashing down! God’s seemingly simple plan had succeeded!

The city of Jericho was overcome with an unconventional approach, and everyone knew God was the reason it happened. The walls came down by the faith of God’s people in following God’s plan.

Before they went into Jericho, God reminded everyone that this was going to be the first victory of many and that all of the spoil of the city belonged to Him. Other cities would be conquered and the people could keep the spoils of those victories. But the defeat of Jericho was one hundred percent God's victory. He wanted all the fruit.

As so often happens, God's people, the Israelites, did not obey. A man named Achan thought he could get away with taking just a garment and a little money. Surely God wouldn’t notice and Achan wouldn’t get caught! Isn't that how all sin is? We convince ourselves that it’s just a little bit and it won’t hurt us. Of course, this wasn’t the case.

When God’s people went up to fight the next city, which was called Ai, Joshua was so confident in God's power, he forgot to get clearance from the Lord. From Joshua’s perspective, God delivered Jericho and of course He could deliver the smaller city of Ai. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Many men died at Ai, and Israel couldn’t win until they took care of the problem, Achan. They had to return what was stolen from God from the battle of Jericho. This story hits close to home. As Christians, it’s great when we see God win battles on our behalf!

We get excited and we charge forward to the next city to claim the victory there, too. However, we must be checking in with God each step of the way. We must ask if this is what God wants. Are we right with Him? Is there anything between us and the Lord?

The lesson is clear. Don’t let our past victories lead to future defeats. We must keep ourselves humble and realize God is the reason for our winning, and he will continue to be our source of victory as long as we ensure we are close to Him.

Gary Bird

Gary and his family are core members of our church. He assists with multiple minsitries. He and his wife Jessica have four children.

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