【Bible Study】Joshua 07: The Devoted Things are the Cause of Failure in Spiritual Warfare
Bible Study: Joshua
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 00: Introduction
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 01: You Will Lead The People To Inherit The Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 02: Anyone Who Seek God Will Also Inherit The Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 03: God Will Honour His Established Leaders On The Way of Possessing the Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 04: Commemorating the Works of Our God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 05: God is Our Victorious Marshal
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 06: God Has Already Put the Enemy in Our Hands
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 07: The Devoted Things are the Cause of Failure in Spiritual Warfare
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 08: Blessings and Curses Determine Victory and Defeat
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 09: All Who Do Not Resist God Will Survive
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 10: All Those Who Are Enemies of God Will Perish
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 11: Left Nothing Undone
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 12: Live Victoriously on Earth
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 13: There Are Still Very Large Areas of Land to be Taken Over
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 14: Follow God Wholeheartedly, and You Will Acquire the Promises
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 15: Be Bold Enough to Ask God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 16: Enter the Promise Land Need a Resolute Attitude
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 17: Properties are Obtained Through Striving and Seizing it
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 18-19: Inheriting the Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 20: Designate the Cities of Refuge
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 21: Not One of All God's Good Promises Will Fail
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 22: Do you truly trust in God?
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 23: Warning the Israelites the Consequences of Turning Away from God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 24: You Shall Serve God Wholeheartedly
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 25 Conclusion: Serve God Wholeheartedly
The Doctrine of MingDing explains part of the phenomenon of not being victorious, which is very common in the church. People generally attribute their failure to win, their inability to solve problems, their inability to be like Jesus, and so on, to God's sovereignty, and they use God's sovereignty as a cover for not believing in God and God's word.
In Joshua 7, we see that the things that the devoted things are a cause of failure in spiritual warfare. I can confidently state that many churches have devoted things to this cause.For example, the brothers and sisters in the church are not giving tithes. This is a problem of devoted things which I will discuss in a moment.
The Doctrine of MingDing is not about attributing failure to God and presenting it as God's grace. All of God's promises to us in the Bible are faithful, and there is nothing that is not faithful. Let me give you some examples: in the book of Acts, it is written that all those who came to the church were healed; in the four gospels, it is written that those who came to Jesus were also healed.
Many people in our church come from other churches. We didn't invite them here, but they find their problems can't be solved in their church, so they come when we have events, and after they come, they are healed. This is because in a victorious church, you will receive grace. But what does one receive in an unconquerable church? Failures. We are victorious because we hold to the Bible as the Word of God, and we never use God's sovereignty as a cover for our unbelief.
Jesus Christ criticised the disciples and that generation; he said, "You unbelieving and perverse generation," and then he criticised them, "You of little faith." It becomes very obvious that the problem lies in the unbelief of the people. In fact, unbelief is the root of all problems. I wrote a book about Genesis, chapters 1 to 11, and the title of the book is "Unbelief is the root of all human problems."
Do we really believe God's word? Many people classify themselves as evangelicals, but what does the word evangelical mean? It means to insist that the Bible is the Word of God, but do we really insist on it? If we did, we would have been cured of our physical ailments! They only verbally insist that the Bible is the word of God, but if they really put the words of the Bible into practise in the church, the church must be a victorious church.
Let me give you a few examples: Some years ago, a man with a very deep curse came to us. He had been a Christian for many years. The problems he was facing were really hard! He lost a lawsuit but was sued again and taken to court. He didn't do too many bad things. When I was praying for him, God told me that he is devoted things.
I said to him, "You are not a tithing person." Then he got angry with me and said, "I am a tithing person!" I said, "No, you are not. You have devoted things in your hands!" He said he didn't. This man was very facetious. Then he said he gave all his tithes to the poor.
When did the Bible teach you to give what belongs to God to the poor? It never teaches that. What belongs to God is to be taken to the temple of God, and whether the priests in the temple of God are to give to the poor is a different matter. What belongs to God is to be taken to the temple of God, to the church of God.
If you are not a tithing person, you will be left with devoted things and will implicate the church in your failures, but this is very common in many churches today.
Some people ask, "How can you guarantee that all the people in the church will tithe?" So, before we accepted you into the church, we examined you. Don't think that if you come to us, you are part of our church; that's not true. What does that mean? The standards of the church cannot be lowered.
Do not be good people or think about giving people respect, which is not a way to implement God's word. If we see that the church is not victorious, one of the key reasons is that the church does not adhere to the truth of the Bible and does not adhere to the Word of God, and many pastors like to give respect to people who are tithing.
The Israelites attacked a very small city called Ai, and Joshua sent 3,000 men. They went up and were defeated, and they actually fled as soon as they faced the enemy. It is hard for us to say exactly what happened here after having just won a great battle in the city of Jericho and then getting defeated by a small city called Ai and having 36 men killed. The Israelites fled, and then the hearts of the people of Israel digested like water.
Previously, it was the hearts of the enemies that were digested, and previously, it was God who delivered the enemies into the hands of the Israelites. But this time, against a very weak enemy, how is it that the Israelites lost the battle? That's why the first verse says,
But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD ’s anger burned against Israel. (Joshua7:1 NIV)
The victory of the church depends on the presence of God. If there are devoted things in the church, then it is difficult for you to be victorious, and it is difficult for God to be with such a church. Therefore, when brothers and sisters begin to see these things, they need a proper explanation. This explanation is definitely not that God's word is invalid, and it is definitely not that it is God's will to defeat the battle.
Was it God's will that the battle be defeated in this city of Ai? Actually, no, at that time Joshua, with great confusion, tore his clothes, and then he and the elders of Israel scattered ashes on their heads, and they were confused, and they fell face down on the ground before the ark of the covenant of the LORD until the evening.
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 NIV)
Do you see that? It was people like Joshua who, when they encountered problems, came up and blamed God first. No matter what kind of people are in trouble and defeated, they do not look for the cause in themselves first, but blame God first. We must know that our defeat has nothing to do with God's promises, but because we do not obey God's words. So we should be more serious about keeping and obeying God's word.
Many of the brothers and sisters are new around here, and it's okay that you may not be used to it. But I want to tell you something from the bottom of my heart: victory is the most important thing in a person's life. So brothers and sisters should start to have a clear understanding of devoted things.
What did God say? This is how God explains:
The LORD said to Joshua, "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, and they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
"Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD , the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.
"‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the LORD chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the LORD chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the LORD chooses shall come forward man by man. Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’ (Joshua 7:10-15 NIV)
When people lose a battle, they shirk their responsibilities and blame God. In fact, God's promises are established in heaven, just like the apostle Paul said, "In Jesus Christ, the promises of our God, no matter how many there are. In my faith, I know that the promises of God will not be forsaken." Everyone should begin to have this kind of faith, and if they are looking for problems, they should look for them within themselves. What was the result? The story goes on. The Israelites got up early in the morning and drew lots, all the way to Achan, and then Joshua asked Achan what was going on here.
And Achan answered Joshua, "When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them." What was the result? He and his whole family were stoned by the Israelites. Do you understand? The things that Achan did were closely related to Israel's defeat in the war. So, what if there are a dozen of Archan, not just one, in the church? The church won't be able to win battles.
So, the church must know, in spiritual warfare, the role played by the devoted is crucial. Now I'd like to explain what devoted things are.
The Bible also talked about devoted things in the book of Genesis about Jacob. Jacob left his uncle Laban and went all the way back to Canaan, encountering many challenges in the process. His brother Esau wanted to kill him, but God helped Jacob, and surprisingly, his brother did not kill him. The two brothers recognised each other and were reconciled.
Further on, we come to Shechem, and Jacob's daughter Dinah is raped by a local man from Shechem. Don't you think this is a strange thing? Why did this happen to Jacob's daughter when he was a man who please God?
As a result, Jacob got rid of the idols of the Gentiles among them and the jewellery and hid them under the oak tree in Shechem. So, we need to know that the root cause of many problems that we cannot overcome is ourselves. Therefore, we have to get rid of idols completely in our minds and hearts.
Did Jacob solve his problem by burying the devoted things under the tree? God helped him solve the problem. Jacob was such a spiritual person, a man as spiritual as Joshua asked such ignorant words: "Why do you want to destroy us?" In fact, people often say such things. Do not think that a spiritual man knows all the truths. At this time, Joshua encountered for the first time the problem of devoted things, and he did not think that devoted things were a problem before.
What are devoted things? There are two kinds of devoted things. One is something that God hates, like things that are closely related to idols and the spiritual world. The second is more serious; it involves keeping things that originally belonged to God, with the result of being cursed.
A few days ago, a sister called me, because we tithe with conscience, and who knows how much money you make? As a result, she was a little short of money, so she took what belonged to God and didn't tithe, and the bad luck started. The situation was good, but since she had devoted things, it didn't take long, just a short period of time, for something not quite right to happen. After thinking about it, she realised that she must have sinned, and as a result, she called me. I told her to repent and not to sin on the devoted things. As a result, she made up the tithe.
Remember, don't think that you can keep these things hidden. Did Achan conceal his sin? No! God knows, and the devil knows. In fact, the Ten Commandments make it very clear that we are not to carve images of all kinds of animals and all kinds of things, and then we are not to worship these things. Who knows where the objects you have come from, maybe they were stole by grave robbers from the grave.
Use your spiritual eyes to look. If you see with worldly eyes, you will not be able to see anything clearly. The key is that the devoted things are about tithe and things that belongs to God.
Achan took something that belongs to God and, as a result, brought corruption to the Israelite army. Everything in the city of Jericho belongs to God because it was the first city the Israelites conquered after crossing the Jordan River. You are not allowed to take the spoils. You might say that God is unreasonable, and the Israelites didn't get anything after winning the battle.
In fact, the spoils were given to the Israelites in later battles, and God did not stipulate as he did in the battle of Jericho.But in the middle of the battle in Jericho, it happened that Achan did this, and the result was quite serious, 36 people died in the battle.
These 36 people were very unlucky to be involved with Achan, and Achan thought he was able to conceal it. but the consequence was that the Israelites lost the battle. When Joshua's confusion was brought to God, God made it clear that, "It is not my promise that have gone wrong, instead it's your problems because you have taken the devoted things. If you do not get rid of the devoted things, I will no longer be with you."
Brothers and sisters, you must understand that it is tragic if a church lacks the presence of God!It will be terrible if a church doesn’t build the church according to the word of God.
I once heard a pastor preach, and he said that God does not often do striking and killing in the church. But here is the problem. Not only was Achan stoned to death, as recorded in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament, the one who withheld the tithe also died. This pastor is glad that God does not often kill people anymore, but does that excuse us from receiving what should be destroyed? No!
God's word and His spiritual principles have never changed. From the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation, God's word stands firm in heaven, and whatever God says will be done.
Do not think that it is okay to take the devoted things. Brothers and sisters must know, it is not worthwhile to take the devoted things and become a thief. If God treats you like a thief, can God still be with you? In fact, man's ignorance will cause people to perish. There will be serious consequences if you take for yourself what belongs to God, and this is God's principle.
A while ago, there was a sister whose shepherd didn't see her tithe for a long time, and I ended up telling her shepherd to remove her from the group. Then this shepherd came back to me and said that he had misread it and that this sister had paid tithing. I said, "Hurry up and add her back to the group and say sorry to her." Many people don't understand my approach, thinking that I value money, but I don't. I value victory. If the church is not victorious, all brothers and sisters will be affected. Of course, if Achan had not been in the army of Israel at that time and had taken the things of Jericho and run away, this would not have dragged the Israelites down.
The Doctrine of MingDing explains many of the phenomena of the church not being victorious, and one of the key phenomena is that everyone is a good person. "Oh, Achan is fine; he is not weak; he is not sinful; his finances are tight these few months; it's okay; it's not that serious." I tell you, this is very serious! Do you understand? Brothers and sisters, I have never deducted from my tithe, and I have never dared to deduct from my tithe since the first day of my conversion.
As I read the Bible, I realised that tithing is very important. Of course, I was torn at the beginning because I wouldn't have much savings after tithing, since my salary is low.
Fortunately, God has blessed me greatly through my tithing, so I never dare to be slow in tithing. Why? Because it is a devoted thing! We take what belongs to God into our hands, and then we ourselves become devoted things. That's the principle of the Bible.
Let me explain a few things:
The first thing is: how come those 36 people were so unlucky to be killed? Many people say that the bullets do not know where they're going. But I tell you, the bullets know. Not only Achan stole the devoted things in the camp of Israel, but also these 36 people who were killed, life and death are all in the hands of God. Are these 36 deaths under God's control? Yes, they were under God's control.
If we look at the whole Bible together, we will find that the results of a human life are what the heart thinks.
There is no record in the Bible of what was in the minds of these 36 people, because they were all struck down. But we must know one thing, our God can never be wrong! These 36 people were killed not because they were unlucky, it's because what was in the minds of these 36 people.
If your heart is filled with love for the world, even if you don't take it this time, you will take it if you have the chance. If a person has greed in his heart, will he not be a corrupt official in the future? If there is a love of money inside, can you not be an unscrupulous businessman? We must not only remove the physical devoted things but also remove the devoted things inside our minds and thoughts. It is easy to get rid of the physical idols, but it is hard to get rid of the idols inside the heart.
So, we should not think that those 36 people were unlucky, God is never wrong. How come Joshua and Caleb were not among those who were slain? How come they were not among those who died of the plague? If a man trusts in God with all his heart, God will not be unaware of it, and he who trusts in God will not be ashamed.
The second thing is that Achan confessed his sins, but how did he still end up being stoned to death? Wasn't God rich in grace and mercy? Why did he have to be stoned to death and burn all his possessions?
In fact, it is necessary to deal with the devoted things in accordance with the Bible. Brothers and sisters, do not think that Achan was confessing his sins. Do you know how many opportunities God had given Achan? God gave Achan chance after chance. God chooses the tribe. After his tribe is chosen, Achan feels that he cannot escape, and if he hurriedly confesses his sins, maybe he can still escape the fate of death. No, it can't be. It can't be so coincidental, right?
Then his clan was chosen. He thinks, "No way, can it really be me? Maybe it's someone else?" His heart began to harden. When his family was chosen, he was still thinking, "Maybe it's someone else, not me, right?" As a result, he was chosen.
When we sin, especially when we steal God's offerings and become thieves before God's eyes, we often think that God does not know, but in fact, God knows. All things are clear before our God; not only the things we do are clear before God, but also the thoughts in our minds are clear to God.
We often think that Judas was unlucky, we sympathise with Judas for betraying Jesus, and we sympathise with Achan, how he was killed. We must know that there is no way to reconcile spiritual principles with women's kindness.* Remember, people died in their own sins.
Judas betrayed Jesus, and God gave him many opportunities. God said that the man who gets the piece of bread that has been dipped in the dish is going to betray me, and as a result, Judas dipped the plate with bread. Could he not have known that he was going to betray Jesus? Could he not have known that Jesus was talking about him? In fact, the other disciples also knew, but Judas was determined to be hardened in his heart, pretend not to hear, and determined in the devil's lie, and went down with a stiff neck. This is not an attitude of confession.
This is how we read Joshua 7. What pastor doesn't read it? But are they going to let these thieves stay in the church? So, the church must teach people the truth and not to please people. If the church is a church that pleases people, how can the church bless brothers and sisters? How can the church have the presence of God? How can people be victorious?
I do not want to say that I have preached all the truths. Many times, I have deep confusions like Joshua, but it does not matter, because I seek God. God is the God of revelation, God will tell us the way to go, because he who seeks find.
We have talked about how if you take the things of God into your own hands, you will be a thief in God's eyes, and you will become a devoted thing. Another type of devoted things is those related to idols.
One time I was ministering to a sister who one day had severe leg pain, the next day her eyes hurt, and the next day her fingers swelled. There are problems every day. After praying, I found a devoted thing and got rid of it. She felt better. Later, the pain was here and there again, and there were some devoted things that were very valuable in the house. The pain hurts like hell!
So, when I was leading her in prayer, I encouraged her to get rid of the devoted things in her house, but she was unwilling. What happened? One day, when the pain was so bad that she couldn't walk, she crawled and threw the devoted things out, and as soon as she threw them out, her legs healed right away! I was waiting on the phone, and when she came back, she said she was healed! It also happened that someone came, and she gave him the things. Then you say that it is not harmful to give the devoted things to other people. Who is to blame for this? He was willing to take it.
Beginning to understand that the devoted things do a lot of harms. Many Christians suffered a lot of confusion on the devoted things. Know that God's promises are always faithful, and if we are not able to draw on God's promises, that must be a problem.
One of the key components of the Doctrine of MingDing is the teaching of the victorious disciple, the victorious church. Salvation is victory, and victory is salvation, but how can you be saved with devoted things in your hand? It is good enough not to be stoned to death, or killed by God. So I began to know God anew. No matter what, be a victorious Christian; be a resounding Christian!
You not only insist that the Bible is the Word of God with your mouth, but you also put God's Word into practise in your life. After we read Joshua chapter 7, and we know that the devoted things are deadly! And it will affect the whole congregation of Israel. So, we need to have a deeper understanding of devoted things.
Why is there more healing in our midst than in many churches? It is not because we are spiritual, but because we insist that the Bible is the Word of God, that we insist on putting the Word of God into practice, and that we insist that there be no compromise on the Word of God. So, one of the key components of the Doctrine of MingDing is to adhere to the Word of God and never compromise on it.
You know, some people ask, "How can we live if we trust God like this?" I think, if you don't believe in the Lord like this, how can you live your life? Is it good to live a life of defeat all the time? Of course, it is better to win battles, isn't it? If you win a battle, you can capture your enemies.
So, brothers and sisters, begin to learn a lesson in the devoted things, and give what belongs to God to God and to the church, and then be sure to live a holy life. May God bless you!