strategy necessary in our obedience to God?
of commitment must we make against sin?
God bless us today in the age of the church?
I was reading the United Kingdom
National Archives webpage where they had a link to recent document releases
pertaining to the 40th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral January 24, 1965. The documents reveal 12 years of planning
that had gone into his funeral. It all began in 1953 when the queen instructed
her top civil servants to begin confidential planning for Churchill’s funeral that ‘was on a scale befitting his position in history. This
planning was codenamed ‘Operation Hope
Not’. Documents reveal that over the
next 12 yrs family members were regularly consulted as plans
emerged--undertakers contacted and secured, the BBC radio and TV briefed and
prepared. In 1958, the master paper on ‘Procedure on the death of Sir Winston
Churchill” was produced and then
revised 8 times thru 1964. Contingency arrangements were made in case
his death happened overseas in Europe or the Americas.
Churchill himself was unwilling to address himself to the subject and even
changed his mind about his final resting place causing the plans to be revised
once again. Speeches of tribute were prepared and drafted years in advance for
the Prime Minister and the Queen. The funeral invitations were even printed in
advance with date of death left blank to be handwritten. There was even a
minute by minute account of the funeral procession from until .
All of this planning and strategy at the command of the Queen for Churchill’s funeral compares to the command of God
and strategy Joshua developed for Israel
at Ai. God told Joshua not to fear but to go up to Ai in vs
1. He would do to the king of Ai what he did to the king of Jericho.
There is no ban on the city this time, but only take the cattle and the
property. Kill the people. They were to set up an ambush behind the city. God
gave only a basic idea of an ambush while Joshua fleshed this idea out with a
strategy and a three-fold plan to execute it in the battle at Ai.
1. OBEDIENCE TO GOD REQUIRES A STRATEGY 3-9
had just experienced a humiliating defeat at Ai in chp
7. After dealing with Achan the Lord is now leading
once again. The command is to go back and fight using an ambush unlike the way
God told them to fight in Jericho.
Unlike Jericho, God left the
details and strategy up to Joshua. Going back to a place of defeat and
recovering lost ground may not be easy. Morally and spiritually it requires
confession, repentance and restoration before there is hope of regaining and
rebounding. The consequences of defeat may not go away but a renewed effort is
possible when following God’s Word.
Joshua’s 3-fold plan 3-9 His plan included (1) Draw the Ai army
out of the city with a false retreat 5-6. (2) Destroy the city with the army of
30,000 hiding behind it 3-4. (3) Surround and destroy Ai while preventing Bethel
from interfering 9. We can see the careful planning and strategy following the
initial defeat at Ai compared to the casual planning before the first battle of
Ai. Also, Ai is the first line of defense geographically for Bethel
which sits up on the CentralBenjaminPlateau and the staging ground for
invasions both north and south. Bethel
is prominent on this ridge and Ai’s
position as a first line of defense is significant for everyone involved. Now
much of the spiritual life requires a strategy. God’s commands require a strategy we develop for the purpose of
obedience. God gives us some general commands like Romans 12:1-2 which states
that we present our bodies as living sacrifices but the specifics are up to us.
It takes a lot of thinking and strategy for instance, to stay out of debt
Romans 13:8. It requires thinking and strategy for husbands to love their wives
or for wives to submit to their husbands and respect them Eph 5. It requires
thinking and strategy to manage our households well. God commands to make
disciples of every nation. He commands us to obey our government. We are not to
walk in the flesh but in the Spirit. We are to pursue love, to clean ourselves
from defilement, walk in a manner worthy of our calling, abstain from sexual
immorality, discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness, Live with our
wives in an understanding way, and obey our parents. All of this requires
thinking and strategy-the specifics we work out in our particular life
situations. How should we do that? This is what Joshua figured out and applied
to his particular situation to follow and obey the command of God. He did the
same with Jericho. 2. THE ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH SIN IS TO
In this section is the actual
battle strategy carried out against Ai. 10-17 Josh pretends to run and the king
of Ai follows 18-20 Ai is ambushed by Israel21-29 Ai and inhabitants killed, city
burned, king executed and buried. The only way to deal with sin is to destroy
it. (1) God amazingly patient with Canaanites. 400 yrs the cup of the amorites had been filling Gen 15:16 but when cup is full
judgment comes. Happened in Noah’s day Gen 6:5.Happened in Sodom’s day Gen 19. One day Christ will come again as judge of all earth Rev 19. God not unjust to these. There comes a time when God’s mercy ends. When mercy is no longer an option.
There comes a time when God no longer can be merciful. Not like his character—God can never stop being omnipotent or holy or infinite or sovereign.
This is His character and never ends but his work can. (2) There are more
important things than human life and only God can determine that since He is it’s author and
creator. Namely, that is when Holiness is at issue. Even believers can face
untimely death because of sin and rebellion (Annanias/Sapphira).
God sheds human blood for reasons He tells us in His Word. Innocent people were
not slaughtered (S&G righteous delivered 1st, Rahab
and family delivered, Isrealites delivered before
destruction of Jerusalem Eze). Any sensitive person
must wonder about the cup of sin in the modern world. God promises tojudge that too. (3) Ai, king and inhabitants, knew of Israel and her God and observed the deliverance but like Jericho refused to acknowledge God of Israel as God. They
could have repented, initiated a response in faith like Rahab
but their advance against Israel tipped their hand and brought their destruction. (4)
This was a religious war commanded by God to Israel under the Law in the OT. Today, biblically speaking,
all religious wars are wrong. Christians are commanded to make disciples of all
nations not to make war with them Rom 13:18-21 Heb 12:14.
Crusades foolish unbiblical example of Christian religious
war. No xian should join a religious war but
we should war against sin to destroy it. That is impossible in this life
because we have a sin nature and the battle is within us Rom 7. But each
spiritual battle should have in mind the eradication of sin not some
compromise. 3. CAREFULLY OBEY ALL OF GOD’S WORD First,
Josh builds an altar at Mt Ebal. Second, he wrote
copies of the Law so anyone who wanted a copy could make one 32. There was not
a word of all that Moses commanded that Josh did not read 35. It is important
to not leave things out, things we may consider unimportant or inappropriate
for our culture when giving the Word of God. Third, they read the blessing and
cursing according to the Law. These were for this life in the land of Israel. In the OT the blessings of God were physical,
earthly, temporal—usually in land of Israel. For the church, in the NT, there are no physical
blessings promised for this life. All blessings of God are spiritual, heavenly
and eternal—not earthly prosperity. Blessing today is reaping the
benefits, that is, prospering in the next life. (1) See ministry as involving
all people 8:1 not just clergy or those described with jobs in our religious
organizations including churches. Danger of missions is considering a person’s ministry as insignificant if it is not something described by our
organization. (2) We need to think thru our life situation and plan how to be
obedient to God. (3) The Word of God is written for everyone to read, learn,
obey—make it available to others.