Joshua 8:1-29: Getting Back in the Game

Read: Joshua 8:1-29

Israel had just suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the people of Ai. They were presumptuous  about God working on their behalf and attacked the city without seeking God. When they suffered a defeat, Joshua was dejected and sought God. They then found Achan who had had kept something forbidden by the ban. Joshua and Israel then dealt decisively with the sin. God told Joshua to not be “dismayed” – that is defeated and broken. Joshua picked himself up and God told him to take Ai as he had Jericho. They used ambush tactics, but God gave Joshua a command: to raise his javelin toward Ai. At this, Joshua did as God commanded and Ai fell and all its inhabitants fell under the ban, just as Jericho did.

Even though Israel had sin among it, they dealt with the sin and felt its remorse. After this though, Israel got right with God and got back on the track of doing as God commanded them to do. A similar story of one failing but getting a second chance happened with Peter. Peter denied Jesus three times, even after saying that he would never do such a thing. And when Peter did deny Jesus, he remembered what Jesus had spoken to him concerning this and wept bitterly. Without a doubt, Peter felt like an athlete who had been ejected from the game and felt like his career was over (John 18:25-27, Luke 22:62). But quite the contrary was true. Even though Peter had denied Jesus, Jesus was not finished with Peter. In fact, this gave Jesus and opportunity to model one of the things he had taught Peter: love and forgiveness. Jesus, after Peter denied him three times, asks Peter if he loved him three times. Peter in all cases answers that he does indeed love Jesus. Jesus in response to these answers commands Peter then to “Tend his lambs”, “Feed his sheep”, and “Tend his sheep”. Jesus was metaphorically telling Peter to not feel down in the dumps, but get back in the game and do what he had been commissioned to do (John 21:15-23). God was telling Joshua to not feel down in the dumps, but get back to the business of carrying out God’s commands and leading the people of Israel in the commands of God.

The command to follow Jesus went out to the original disciples at the beginning of his ministry and at the end of his ministry on earth. Like Peter though, faltering in one’s walk with God does not cast him or her out of God’s presence forever. What God wanted from Israel and Joshua was not a prideful heart that denied what they did, rather a contrite heart and a broken spirit (Psalm 51:17), and Joshua had this. God does not give up on people; rather people give up on God. But when one does falter, one need only confess it to God and God is faithful to restore (1 John 1:9) and give someone a second chance. And one can continue to walk in the ways of God all the more, following his commands!

Lord, help me not to wallow in the mire, but get back to following you after I fall!

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