“But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.” Joshua 7:1
The above quote from Joshua comes on the heels of God’s divine intervention that destroys Jericho. What should have been a season of celebration and reflection on the power of God turns into a time of death and destruction for the people of Israel. One man spoiled the entire nation. What Joshua discovers is often the enemy is within ourselves.
Through Achan’s mistakes pride sneaks into the community. Unlike Joshua’s attack on Jericho, he does not turn to God in prayer but decides that he will use his own strength and logic to attack the people of Ai. Seeing them as a weaker opponent, he figures he will send less troops to let the weary ones recover. In doing so, the people of Israel experience their first defeat.
A few weeks ago, I fell for the “clickbait” on an article entitled, “Obama wakes up every morning to a black book of death.” [This is not a political statement against Obama, so don’t make it one] It was probably because I was waking up each morning and reading the through book of Joshua that I made the wrong interpretation. I thought this was going to say that he arose each morning to read the Bible as much of the Bible deals with death (and mine comes in a black cover). Unfortunately, he awakens to a report of the deaths, calamities, and attacks occurring in our current world.
As I reflected on this, it struck me the juxtaposition. How awful it would be to awaken each morning and confronted with the harsh realities of the world–to realize the vastness of evil in our world that no one else really knows–and the reality that no matter how many missiles we amass, evil will continue to persist in our world. How hopeless I would feel waking up and being handed that report just as my feet hit the floor. I would also be tempted to act like Joshua and rely on my own brain power and logic rather than seek God.
In a way, I wish that Obama had awoken to the death found in the pages of Joshua. Being handed this other black book of death–the Bible–we find that it is through death that new life emerges. While many faithful people seek to avoid the death and destruction detailed in the Old Testament, these stories play an important role in our faith life. As we read of the constant mistakes and failures of humanity, we see the mess we all make of our lives. We realize that death is of our own doing, and unavoidable apart from Jesus.
By my awakening each morning with my little black book of death…I am humbled. I am reminded that I am but one person in a vast story, but left to my own devices I make the same mistakes that these other men and women have made since the beginning.
Unlike the POTUS who is forced to confront death with his own strength and might, this realization that death is inevitable, causes me to place my trust not in my own capabilities or resources but in Christ alone.
So when facing the reality of life, where do you put your trust?