In the third part of my message on the similarities that exist in the
Books of Joshua and Acts, we shall cast the spotlight on some "Negative
incidents" to start with. Firstly...
Oh yes, there was Achan, who grossly underestimated the omniscience of God, even as greed held sway in his life (Joshua 7) and there were Ananias and Sapphira who too took God's omniscience lightly even while being swayed by that very same lure of the lucre (Acts 5:1-11). The result? A swift retribution sending the guilty ones to an early grave!!! With folded hands, let me plead (I am speaking to myself, too): A casual attitude towards God in matters of public obedience can cost highly (Lev 10:1)!!!
Oh how much confusion and commotion Joshua and his co-leaders could have avoided by seeking God's counsel in matter of entering into a peace pact with the guileful Gibeonites (Joshua 9:1-20), similarly how much of commotion could Paul and Barnabas have avoided by praying for Almighty's guidance in the matter of deciding to take John Mark or not in their second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-39). Sadly however, they let their personal egos get the better of them. It is quite another story that the good Lord used even the lapses of great leaders for bringing greater glory to Himself. If it were not for the peace pact with the Gibeonites, eventually that great miracle of the Almighty stopping the sun and the moon in its tracks would not have come about (Joshua 10). Similarly, except for the parting of ways of Paul and Barnabas, the Gospel could not have reached all those places where it was not preached hitherto, with these estranged leaders going in different directions now (Acts 15:39-41). Fast forward to Col. 4:10, do not we see a patching-up of differences?
All said and done, the lesson to be learned here is: Whenever confronted by tricky situations, it would serve the Church leaders better to look prayerfully unto the Lord rather than acting hastily and then repenting at leisure.
In the Book of Joshua, nearing the end we see the Trans-Jordan tribes (with genuine motives) coming up with an alternate altar location (permit me some alliteration) which led to an altercation between them and other tribes (Joshua 22:10-30). Originally the Brazen altar for offering of the sacrifices was there at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1) as a part of the Revered tabernacle. But the Trans-Jordan tribes, whilst going to occupy their land on the Eastern side of River Jordan after a 14 year "Conquest of Canaan", had constructed, with honest intentions, another altar that resembled the Brazen one. They hoped it would "unalterably" serve as a "memorial of their Jewish antecedents for all posterity".
Their motives, however, were not sought initially, and the other tribes simply wanted to wipe em' out for "blasphemy". Fortunately, wiser counsel eventually prevailed, and the motives behind such a "brazen action" of coming up with a replica of the Brazen altar were sought. When God-honoring reasons were doled out by these tribes at the receiving end of the accusations, the anger of the other nine and half tribes was pacified. Similarly, knives and daggers were out when the pre-dominantly Jewish Early Church in Jerusalem heard that Peter had visited the "gentile home" of Cornelius (Acts 11:1-3). Calm and tactful handling of the situation, however, by wise Peter, made his critics realize the folly of their ways (Acts 11:14-18).
Dear Christian friends, do we also on "slightest suspicion" of immorality/wrong-doing by our fellow brethren, sound our "war buglers"? Or do we care to thoroughly check-out the facts first (1 Tim. 5:19) before taking public action?
Prayer: Father, make us doubly careful in matters of
inter-personal relationship and also sensitive to the hurts of others.
In Jesus' Name. Amen
(To access the rest of the "Lights, Camera, Action!" mini-series, please click here.)