Lesson 4 -- third quarter 2011
June 26, 2011
Where did Joshua get the faith to believe and the faithfulness to obey? Is my source different?
Am I as careful about the "little" details of God's will as (I think) I am about the "big" details?
How might own personal faith and faithfulness both feed and feed off of the faith and faithfulness of those under my authority?
Do I see my victories as depending at least in part on the faith(fulness) of my fellow "marchers"?
Why is my faith so weak? And what can I do to nourish the faith I do have? And how do I increase in faith?
What is God's role and what is my role in my experiencing victory today?
What am I being or doing that actually contributes to my own defeat? Or the defeat of my fellow "marchers"?
Talk about unconventional warfare! The inhabitants of Jericho were treated to one of the strangest sights: a whole bunch of people who daily walked around their city once. With nary a peep. I can imagine this unnerved them at first, but eventually they may have concluded that the Israelites had lost touch with reality. The truth of the matter was, though, that the Israelites had finally come in contact with total reality. Optimistic reality. The reality of obedience.
The unnatural experience at Jordan prepared Israel for the abnormal approach at Jericho. But unnatural and abnormal were now relative terms. The Israelites were slowly getting acquainted with God's ways of doing things...and they were perfectly natural and normal by His standards. The Israelites were quite satisfied to let Him do things His way since they knew that then things would get done. God had said He would give them Jericho, and the reality of obedience told them that the deed was as good as done...if they obeyed.
Human convention and opinion do not bind God. He does things His way. His people do well to follow along without regard to what others think. Do His methods strike you as unconventional? That's just what you think! (Marching around a city in silence is just not the way conquest is done, right?) Do others ridicule His methods . . . and you for following them? So be it! (The Israelites may have looked ridiculous going around Jericho but that was before the end of the story. Then the ones who ridiculed were also the ones who were defeated.)
Will you follow God's ways even if it means being misunderstood and ridiculed? I can guarantee you that choosing this approach to living means taking the long range view. Focus on the joy set before you, just like Jesus did. Also critical to successfully living this way (first, in fact) is keeping your eyes on Jesus. Care more about the final victory than about the present trials. Care more about the Master than about the mockers.
Choosing God's ways in our day opens us to increasing amounts of ridicule. Even from other Christians. Our spirit should still be one of humility and love, despite the mockery and misunderstanding, despite the source.
This concludes my comments based on the passage for the International Bible Study. To read my comments on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications, click here: The Consequences of Rebellion.