How often do we read the manual when building something? How often do we go back to it when we’ve broken something? The reality is, we may not pay much attention to the instructions when setting up our cable, piecing together a baby crib, or building a bunk bed. However, many of us know that there’s a difference between getting things done, and getting things done the RIGHT WAY. That can make a difference between sweet success, and utter failure.
Did you know that the key to SUCCESS and PROSPERITY in the bible is only mentioned in the first chapter of JOSHUA? After the death of Moses, Joshua was tasked with leading a military campaign that would conquer the whole land of Canaan, and help establish the Kingdom of Israel. That sounds like a pretty big task to me. To prepare Joshua, God gave him a very specific set of instructions to follow:
“only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law the Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go”- Joshua 1:7 (ESV)
The law of Moses was established for the people of Israel to devote themselves to the LORD. After that, everything else would fall in line. Sounds simple enough, right? But shortly afterwards, Joshua loses his battle against the city of Ai.
What happened? Well, before the defeat of Jericho, God reminded Joshua and the Israelites of what they must do: Stay devoted to the things of God.
“But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it”- Joshua 6:18 (ESV)
After the defeat of each kingdom, God strictly commanded Joshua and the people of Israel to destroy almost everything. This was not done to promote violence, but to ensure holiness and purity. Rather than engulfing themselves in the riches and spoils of the world, the people were to dedicate themselves to God. Disobeying God’s instructions would taint the people of Israel, and veer them off the path of success (much like when we veer off the manual). This was the difference between sweet success, and utter failure. Let’s read what happened:
“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.”- Joshua 7: 1 (ESV)
Israel did not follow the instructions that God gave them. In return, they lost. They lost badly. The kingdom of Ai kicked their butts (I encourage you to read it in Joshua 7:4-5!!!), and Joshua was completely demoralized:
“Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, ‘Alas, O LORD GOD, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us?’”-Joshua 7:6 & 7(ESV)
Have you ever felt completely helpless in a situation? Have you ever felt like God didn’t want you to succeed? When we fail, do we take a moment to look at the instruction manual?
After looking back at God’s instruction manual, Joshua’s army defeated the kingdom of Ai. Not only that. He led a very successful military career conquering the central, southern, and northern parts of Canaan, taking down 37 kingdoms, and allotting the land to all twelve tribes of Israel. That sounds like a pretty successful run to me.
When is the last time you followed God’s instruction manual?