Faith can be a challenging concept to grasp. It’s something we have to practice every day in our routines, and something that is challenged in every difficult encounter we have. However, we are given a multitude of examples of faithfulness in the bible, like one of my favorites, Joshua.
In the book of Numbers, we see time and time again that Israel did not have enough faith to enter the lands of Canaan. It’s stated blatantly in Numbers 20:12,
And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” Numbers 20:12 ESV
While a lack of faith kept the Israelites out of their promised land, it was also an abundant faith that enacted God to deliver his people. Specifically, the faith of Joshua. Joshua was Moses’ right-hand man and his successor as the leader of Israel. Joshua also ended up being the most significant military leader Israel ever saw. Joshua’s military success did not come from his own might or intelligence but rather from his faith in a God that he obeyed fervently.
We see this blatantly in The Battle of Ai. While most of Joshua’s victories were dominant routs of the enemy, this battle was drastically different. Joshua chapter seven tells us why:
But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel. Joshua 7:1 ESV
And so, the Israelites suffered a loss for the first time during the seven-year war to acquire the promised land. Not because their men were weak, but because their faith was weak. The Israelites, distracted by their desires, did not trust God with their adoration.
However, our creator is a gracious God. So Joshua sought God’s instruction, and God spoke, telling the Israelite leader to command repentance among His people and try again.
There were distractions among the Israelites due to their desire to hold on to the plunder they received from the battle of Jericho. One man, in particular, was Achan, who had kept some items from the battle, desiring them for his own pleasure. However, God has specifically instructed them to devote all items to destruction. Unfortunately, Achan did not have enough faith to trust God’s instructions.
How often do we do this? How often do we hold on to something we are too afraid to give to God? I know there are times in my life where I have been Achan, where my pride has gotten in the way of my faith.
What makes this story cut even deeper is what Achan had just witnessed. Achan was in Joshua’s army that had just walked around the walls of Jericho and watched God tumble them down. Achan had just seen God perform an incredible miracle, one that brought them drastically closer to attaining the promised land. Nevertheless, Achan took what was God’s and claimed it as his own.
In your life, what has God given you that you have taken as your own? Has God given you a ministry that you have used to glorify yourself? Has God given you evangelistic opportunities that you’ve pushed away in fear of awkwardness? Has God given you resources to further His kingdom that you’ve, instead, used for your own pleasure?
When we could have faith like Joshua, sometimes we instead have the faith of Achan. But again, the creator of everything is also a gracious God. God had given the Israelites victory, and they used it for their gain. Yet, despite that, God was willing to provide them with victory again if they repented and returned with great faith.
This is endlessly true for you too. It’s not too late to turn your Achan faith into Joshua faith and to trust God with everything. Though Achan had to face fatal consequences for his actions, Jesus faced those consequences for us.
Though faith can be challenging, we can pray for God to give us faith that he will fight our battles. Like Joshua, we can ask God to tear down the walls and destroy the evil inside. We can have faith in trusting God with our innermost thoughts. We can come to him completely abandoned, completely vulnerable. No longer must we seek after the things of this world like Achan, but we can glorify the Lord by trusting our entire hearts to him.
God give me a heart abandoned
Ever after You alone
Gold and silver, You can take it
All I want is You, my Lord
Seek God and nothing else; give him your everything and let him fight your battles. Faith in God can be hard in the moment, but our good and gracious God knows the whole picture.
Regarding the walls of Jericho and many other acts of great Old Testament faith, the author of Hebrews says this:
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Hebrews 11:39-40 ESV