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25 April 2020 – Joshua 7:6-9

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?” – Joshua 7:6-9

Adolph Harstad writes:

Prostrate Joshua provides a model for Christian prayer. “Searching faith” is a term that describes his expressions. He is right to seek answers immediately from the true God and from Him alone – not from any other gods, his subjective human experiences, or the opinions of other Israelites. It is an act of faith to pour out the depths of his despondency before to God rather than express his thoughts to others or to no one. Yet weaknesses in his faith surface while Joshua gropes for answers. It is a slap in God’s face to suggest that Israel should have stayed on the other side of the Jordan when God Himself had commanded the crossing and made it possible by a miracle. The words of Joshua come dangerously close to those of the Israelite grumblers who perished in the desert.

Joshua’s bold appeal at the close of his prayer to the reputation of God’s own name among the nations is much like Moses’ intercessory prayer on behalf of Israel. Neither Joshua nor Moses appeals to any merit or goodness in himself or in the other Israelites. Instead, the basis of their appeals is the character of God’s own sacred and saving name. Since Yahweh has tied His own name to the success of His people in carrying out His covenant promises, Joshua reasons that the God of the covenant must rescue His people for the sake of His own reputation. David likewise appeals in prayer to the name of God: “Because of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great” (Psalm 25:11). Luther calls an appeal to the name of God a “safe and dependable argument.” What could carry more weight before God Himself than the reasoning “You said, LORD, that you would give us this land, and your name is riding on this”? Bold faith mixed with doubt and ignorance of the calamity’s cause therefore characterize this prayer of Joshua.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 36

Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification?
A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.