What Reveals Your Faith?

Series: Failure Is Not Final in The Father!

MEN’S MONTH Lesson 2: September 8 – 12, 2021

AIM: After studying this series, students will know thatin spite of faults, failures, sins, mistakes, errors of judgment, God can still make something beautiful of our lives.  Students will REALIZE that even the saints of Biblical times struggled to keep the faith!

INTRODUCTION:

In the open chapters of Joshua, the Children of Israel crossed Jordan into the Promise Land. They had a resounding victory at Jericho. (Joshua 6) You know the story. They followed God’s instructions and the walls came tumbling down. However, a few days later when part of the army marched on to Ai, they were soundly defeated by this small city. What happened? How were they able to turn such a great victory into defeat so quickly? What mistakes did they make?

I fear that we just like the children of Israel, the Church and individual Christians are turning the great victories we have in Jesus into defeat. We are living defeated lives because we make the same mistakes they made. We would do well to learn from their mistakes. The text reveals at least three mistakes that enabled them to turn their great victory into defeat.

  1. They overestimated the wisdom of men.
  2. They underestimated the strength of the enemy.
  3. They underestimated the effects of sin.

Joshua had to go back to God, notice that I said he had to go “back” which implies that he did not go to God in the first place!  Joshua had to go back to God to see what was wrong that their victory had been turned into defeat!  What reveals your faith more – victory or defeat?  Obedience or disobedience?

BACKGROUND:

We find a very important principle in the 7th chapter of Joshua –

  • it is sometimes more difficult to handle success than failure.
  • We are most vulnerable for Satan to lead us into sin.

Joshua has been a story of success until we come to chapter seven, which begins with the saddest word in the book – but.  Since Jericho was the first victory in Canaan God wanted them to obey what principle found in Proverbs 3:9?

Proverbs 3:9 (TPT) Glorify God with all your wealth, honoring him with your firstfruits, with every increase that comes to you.

Joshua 7:1-3 (NLT)

1     But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.

2     Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven.

3     When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”

  1. Turning a blessing into a blunder

In this chapter we find the dangers of success, beginning with. . .

  1. Displaced Confidence 
  2. Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai to spy out the region.  They found Ai was a smaller city than Jericho, so upon their return . . .
    1. they were arrogant   
    1. they made false assumptions
  3. Few things are as dangerous as believers’ success.  At such times we begin to take pride in ourselves and forget the warning in 1 Corinthians 10:12?

1 Corinthians 10:12 (TPT) So beware if you think it could never happen to you, lest your pride becomes your downfall.

  • Because of their recent success Joshua failed to consult the Lord    and to wait on Him.
  • If Joshua had consulted God, he would have discovered there was sin in the camp and experienced what truth found in Proverbs 3:5-6?

Proverbs 3:5-6 (TPT) 5 Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make. 6 Become intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go.

 

Joshua 7:20-21 (NLT)

20   Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel.

21   Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.”

  • Dissatisfaction (7:20-21)
  • Many of the Israelites were at fault because of displaced confidence, but it was Achan who sinned far more flagrantly.  
  • Instead of being thankful for God’s blessings, Achan   coveted what he did not have and what belonged to God.  He was dissatisfied with God’s plan for his life.
  • It was not enough that God had promised future blessings.  Achan was thinking about the 40 years of poverty in the wilderness and most important he forgot or dismissed how God had provided for them.  Moses had even reminded them!

 

Deuteronomy 29:5 (NLT) For forty years I led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out.

  • Dissatisfaction is how Satan brought sin into the world.

Genesis 3:4-5 (NLT) 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

 

  • Satan’s tactics have not changed.  He will try to find something in your life in which he can say, “You deserve better.” 

Joshua 7:4-9 (NLT)

4     So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai

5     chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.

6     Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening.

7     Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side!

8     Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies?

9     For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?”

  • Defeat (7:4-9)
  • Disaster
  • Disappointment
  • Discouragement
  • This disaster caused Joshua to temporarily lose perspective
  • Feeling sorry for himself, he forgets the dividing of the Red Sea, the miraculous crossing over the Jordan, and even about Jericho.
  • But most importantly he forgot the promise God made to him.

 

Joshua 1:3 (NLT) I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you—

 

Joshua 7:10-21 (NLT)

10   But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this?

11   Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings.

12   That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.

13   “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.

14   “In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the Lord will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the Lord will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the Lord will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one.

15   The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”

16   Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Judah was singled out.

17   Then the clans of Judah came forward, and the clan of Zerah was singled out. Then the families of Zerah came forward, and the family of Zimri was singled out.

18   Every member of Zimri’s family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out.

19   Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.”

20   Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel.

21   Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.”

  • Divine Direction (7:10-21)
  • Though Joshua could not have known about Achan’s sin, he should have been asking about the reason for Israel’s defeat rather than questioning God’s faithfulness.
  • However, God understood the lapse of faith was only temporary and out of character for Joshua.  So, without any condemnation, the Lord says, “. . . Israel has sinned. . .they have stolen, they have lied. . . That is why the Israelites cannot sand against their enemies. . .I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction (7:10-12).
  • God had promised to be with Joshua wherever he went, like many of His promises, this was conditional.  The condition was that His word was to be obeyed.
  • The Lord did not identify Achan.  He simply gave Joshua directions for finding the culprit. 

Point to Ponder:  Why didn’t God just identify Achan?

Joshua 7:22-26 (NLT)

22   So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achan had said, with the silver buried beneath the rest.

23   They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the Lord.

24   Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor.

25   Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The LORD will now bring trouble on you.” And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies.

26   They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.

  • Discipline (7:22-26)

Point to Ponder: Why kill his family?  Is this a little extreme?

Point to Ponder: Why do you think God responded with this kind of judgment?

TRY, TRY AGAIN:

After a blunder we are discouraged, wondering if God can ever use us again. However, the worst blunder of all is not trying again.  We are called to be Champions for Christ, and a champion always tries again.  If we live by God’s Word, we can be assured by the promise in God’s Word found in 2 Chronicles 16!

2 Chronicles 16:9a (NLT) The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

 

Joshua 8:1-2 (NLT)

1     Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land.

2     You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its king. But this time you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the town.”

 

  1. Turning a blunder into a blessing!

To turn a blunder into a blessing we must. . .

  1. Try Again 
  2. After the humiliating defeat by the inhabitants of Ai, the Israelites are demoralized. 
  3. Now the people have consecrated themselves to the Lord and dealt with the sin of Achan. 
  4. Joshua again hears the encouraging words from the Lord, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (8:1)
  5. Israel’s sin of arrogantly forgetting God did not mean God had forsaken them.
  6. God is a God of a second chance:
    1. Jonah – given a second chance
    1. David – given a second chance
    1. Peter – given a second chance
    1. You – given a second chance

When we make a big blunder, we need to remember the promise given to God’s children in Psalm 37:24. . .Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”

  • Follow God’s Plan
  • Do what God wants not what YOU want!
  • You tried your way and made a mess, now do it His way, and receive the best!
  •  Give God the Glory for Success
  • The defeat and subsequent victory causes Joshua to get back to the basics.
  • First, there was an altar – a meeting place with God was provided.
  • Second, offerings were given to the Lord.
  • Third, the Word of God was read.
  • The reading of the Law – Genesis through Deuteronomy
  • As each curse was read, the tribes on Mt. Ebal would shout “Amen.”  As the blessings were read, the tribes on Mt. Gerizim would say “Amen.”
  • God wanted His people to realize what happened to them in the land would be determined by whether they were living on Mt. Gerizim (obedience) or Mt. Ebal (disobedience).

 

Deuteronomy 11:29 (NLT) “When the Lord your God brings you into the land and helps you take possession of it, you must pronounce the blessing at Mount Gerizim and the curse at Mount Ebal.

PRAYER PRINCIPLE:                         Be sure to thank God for your blessings that result from the blunders that you have made.

SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE:            When you see someone about to make a blunder, help them turn their blunder into a blessing.

EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE:                Share with others that although it seems like Christ’s death was a blunder, Christ’s resurrection turned into the ultimate blessing for us all.

STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE:                Since all gifts come from God, with gratitude you should give to God first.

DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE:                 No matter what mistakes you have made or may be about to make, never forget that God is the God of repeat chances.

NEXT WEEK’S LESSON: Successful Failures

NEXT WEEK’S SERIES: Failure is not Final in The Father

NEXT WEEK’S READING: 1 Corinthians 4:2; Isaiah 6:8-12; Jeremiah1:4-8, 17; Jeremiah 12:6; Jeremiah 6:13-15; Jeremiah 14:14-16; Jeremiah 14:14-16; Matthew 16:13-14; Matthew 14:22-33; Psalm 139:14

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