Memo 1015: Left Off the List
Last week, we looked at the battle of Jericho and I mentioned that I thought it interesting that Joshua is not named in the Hebrews 11 list of faith heroes. I wonder why that is? Joshua played a significant role in the history of Israel and perhaps he was not mentioned for the same reason others weren't: There just wasn't time to mention everyone (after all, even King David is not mentioned). But I wonder if it is because of a story involving Joshua where he did not exercise faith and his decision had implications for his people for centuries? As we speculate, let's look at that story now and see how it intersects with our theme of unlocking our faith.
Joshua was under orders to destroy the people of the land but one day a group presented themselves to Israel claiming to have come from afar:
The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?” “We are your servants,” they said to Joshua. But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?” They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, ‘Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; make a treaty with us.”’ This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.” The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath (Joshua 9:7-15).
Of course, these visitors were their neighbors but were acting out an elaborate ruse to fool Israel and they were quite successful. Instead of inquiring of the Lord, the leaders relied on what they saw instead of what He saw. They walked by sight in this instance and not by faith and were thus easily tricked into making a covenant with the devil, so to speak.
Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.” They continued, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept (Joshua 9:16-21).
WALKING BY SIGHT
If you want to unlock the power of your faith, you must learn to walk not by what is obvious but what is true but perhaps yet to be revealed. You must not walk by sight. Paul wrote,
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
For example, I write in faith, not looking at the sales figures but looking to Him and recording what He shows me. Perhaps my books will sell when I am gone. Perhaps they will never sell and are only to help a few people in the here and now. Either way, I am content and happy to keep on writing. I also establish libraries and schools in Kenya. Why? What I do there does not address the needs of many, only a few. However, I don't look at the size of the results but the quality, and I do so in faith.
Where are you walking by sight? Do you not give the $10 you could give because you walk by sight and conclude it's not very much? Do you not do the good you can do because it looks so insignificant? Do you not give the encouraging word to someone because it seems so trite and you assume they have probably heard it before? All those are simple examples of what it means to walk by sight.
If you want to unlock the power of your faith, you have to stop accepting the disguises your good deeds can assume as Joshua did, trusting not the size of your act but the size of the God who inspired the act. In that way, you won't be left off the faith roll of distinction as Joshua was. Have a blessed week!