What Fools Might Do!
So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. – Romans 9:16
The sickness of self-determination or self-justification reaches well beyond our modern times, but is an epidemic in our day. Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe that a person ought to give every bit of energy and talent that they possess to any endeavor. In many ways, hard work cleanses the soul and keeps us from most sins, however, it is the attitude of “I did it my way,” which becomes our downfall.
After God had delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, He brought them to the Promised Land. Numbers 14 gives the account of what happened the first time that they arrived in order to take possession of the land. All but two of the spies were terrified of entering into the land because, they reported, it was a land of giants and they believed that they would surely be destroyed by them. It was because of their rebellion and their refusal to trust in God, even after having seen how He had delivered them out of Egypt, that caused God to turn them back into the wilderness where they were to wander for forty years. Though God refused to allow that generation to enter the land, He remained faithful to His promise and after the forty years had passed, he brought them back for another try.
One of those two spies who had not been afraid of possessing the land was Joshua, who was later given command over Israel. You know the story related in Joshua, chapter 6.
And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.” – Joshua 6:2-5
Consider how foolish this must have appeared to those who watched each day from atop the walls of Jericho. There is no doubt that as each of the six days passed, there was a great deal of taunting and ridicule taking place from atop the walls. No doubt, even within the ranks of those who marched, there was some reservations about whether what they were doing was actually going to deliver the city of Jericho into their hands. After all, how was marching around the city and blowing on trumpets going to win a battle?
Their mothers and fathers had witnessed how God had led them out of Egypt, some of those who marched around the wall might have been very small when that happened, but many of them would have never seen the mighty hand of God at work, though, of course, that hand fed them every day while they were in the wilderness. We’ll look at that story another time. However, they obediently carried out the order that had been given. The result?
So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. – Joshua 6:20 & 21
Great story, right? We love to hear those Sunday School stories, don’t we? But do we take them to heart? Do we truly get the message that God communicated through this battle or do we consider such things foolishness? Do we just look on this as a nice little story from another place and time that has little bearing upon the “here and now?”
I’m about to step on some toes, but rest assured that my own are being mashed right along with yours. The problem with Christians today is not that we don’t have a lack of fun and joy in Christ, but we do lack a sense of the battle that we are facing. We lack an understanding of the fact that the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat the sin in our lives is readily available. We lack an understanding of the fact that through the power of the Jesus Christ, the gates of hell cannot stand against us. We lack focus for the battle. We lack ferocity for defending God’s Word. We lack diligence and discipline for gearing up for battle and stepping forward with the confidence to engage the enemy.
We have no problem focusing on the love and freedom that are found in Christ, but run away to hide from the sharp cutting truth of the other attributes that He asks of us: holiness, righteousness and discernment of truth. We tend to seek self-justification by appealing to Jesus’ attributes of love, but tend not to appeal quite so eagerly to His calls to repentance and turning away from error.
We have no problem when it comes to searching for ways to justify ourselves through the scriptures whenever we want to do things that tend to fall in those “grey areas”, but we’re hard pressed to grasp the concept that GOD is in command. Consequently, we tend to be more like the first generation of the Israelites who see the giants in the land, rather than those who were fed by the manna from heaven for forty years.
The time is very near when the frivolous things into which we put our greatest efforts will stand in very pale comparison against glorying in Christ and depending upon Him to provide the courage and strength to put one foot in front of the other, to stand, to crawl or to even lift up our heads. When that day is upon us and we are being tested to our very limits, where then will the concerns of today be? Upon whose power will we rely?
To the world around us, our faith is foolishness and we are not only going to be ridiculed for it, but we are likely going to lose our freedom, perhaps even our lives for defending it. Therefore, it is time that we answer with full faith the challenge which Joshua issued to the Israelites in Joshua 24.