Day 5

Israel Cannot Stand Alone

from the Joshua reading plan

Joshua 7:1-26, Joshua 8:1-35, Deuteronomy 9:26-29

BY Guest Writer

Text: Joshua 7:1-26, Joshua 8:1-35, Deuteronomy 9:26-29

Who of us has not lamented like Joshua, beating our breasts and rending our garments, surveying the landscape of darkness, rebellion, and fear in front of us? Many of us have fretted that God’s name will not be made great, but all too often we say, “What can we do to make Your name great?” Joshua, praise God, got the pronoun right: “What will You do for your own great name?” (Joshua 7:9, emphasis mine).

It’s strange, the knots we tie ourselves up in, the puzzles we struggle to fit ourselves into, the efforts we put forth to be the bringers of greatness to God. We want to be the world changers and the history makers, the people of God for God, with nothing standing in our way. But Joshua, in the face of Israel’s abundant sin, knew if God’s name was to be great, He Himself would be the one to do itnot man.

We think the world will be changed by our short-term missionary journeys, fiery sermons, and quippy books. We think we can bring glory to God’s name with our efforts of authenticity, by racking up social media “likes” and “followers,” by planting new churches, both big and small. We think we’ll glorify Him by performing awesome acts in His name and creating large gatherings for prayer and praise—by centering most things on the gospel, and relying on great graphics to take care of the rest.

But in Joshua chapter 7, here is how God chose to make His name great:

Joshua lines up the twelve tribes.
Within those tribes, the clans.
Within those clans, the households.
Within those households, the men.
Then one man: Achen.

To him, Joshua says, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and make a confession to Him. I urge you, tell me what you have done. Don’t hide anything from me” (v. 19).

And here, among an entire nation, Achen is found out and then tells the truth: “I have stolen and I have hidden what I have stolen, and here is where it is” (vv. 20-21, my paraphrase).

But God already knew Achen and his actions. He knows ours, too.

What if the way God chooses to make His name great is the difficult, relentless, painful, and excruciatingly long process of unearthing sin in our lives? What if the way God makes His name great is not through public acts of piety, but private acts of repentance? What if His greatest act of glory is in exposing the darkest of lies our hearts have clung to, only to replace them with the light of His mercy and Truth?

As Charles Spurgeon said, “It is far easier to fight with sin in public, than to pray against it in private.”

Today, as you read this passage, do not ask how you can do great things for God. Instead, ask Him to unearth the secret sins in your heart, the places that need exposure to His light and healing in His presence. He knows them already and loves you still.


Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, tweets @lorewilbert, and posts photos @loreferguson. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

Post Comments (64)

64 thoughts on "Israel Cannot Stand Alone"

  1. Diane Huntsman says:

    So so so good. Thanks

  2. PeggyR says:

    As i was having a hard time reading the consequences of Achan’s sin and how his family paid for it too, God reminded me I cannot expect a perfect, holy God to tolerate sin. It just doesn’t work. I also need to remember God’s goodness and how his plan is perfect. God must love Achan and his family more than I can imagine, just like how he loves me despite my public as well as hidden sins. He is sovereign and I need to bow down and be silent. I remember on pastor once said, “when you disagree with God, God is always right.” Amen.

  3. Amen says:

    Dear God,
    Please continue to help us all listen to You and follow what you have shown us.
    Help us to continue trusting in You with all our hearts, and not to depend on our own understanding. Help us to seek Your will in all You do, and to show us which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
    Help us to remember you have never deserted those who seek your help. (Psalm 9:10)
    Thank You for teaching us to walk in faith and be free from fear by holding onto what You are as you continue teaching us and replacing our ways with Yours.
    We trust Your heart to lead, protect and preserve us.

    1. Esther Rogers says:

      “We trust Your heart to lead, protect and preserve us” no truer words – Amen

  4. pickle says:

    After reading the scripture today I thought “how can God continue to forgive me and love me because I continue to sin the same sins over and and over again?’ But I’m reminded that God loves us without any stipulations. Then I thought of my own children and how I will love them to my death no matter what they do or don’t do over and over again. If I can love my children like that, think how much more God’s love is. What peace that gives me and hope that the Holly Spirit will help me to stop sinning the same sin over and over again.

  5. churchmouse says:

    Once upon a time I had a great career I loved. And then once upon a time I had a public ministry platform. I was doing great work I loved, a work that could be seen and its effectiveness measured. Now, in this time, I am Mimi to a two year old. While I love this sweet child to infinity and beyond, there have been days of “what am I accomplishing for you these days , Lord? I’m back to wiping runny noses and doing potty training.” Now I know that family is my first mission field and it is noble , honorable, God-glorifying work but it is also often invisible, energy – depleting and, really, it doesn’t look, well , very spiritual. You can tell I’ve been having a bit of a pity party for myself. I want to do big things for Jesus like I was doing before… And, to be honest, maybe get some recognition for it also. SO… this devotion today certainly put me in my place. Let me first say I’m grateful for it. As Mimi, I’m up early – which gives me devotion and Bible study time before the sun comes up. This getting up early to serve as Mimi has enriched my prayer life and helped me to put down roots I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. My quiet time is my most precious valuable time. God has spoken such tender words of love and also strong words of conviction. “What if the way God makes His name great is not through public acts of piety, but private acts of repentance?” This. Yes. I bow my head at that sentence. He is glorified in my quiet time and He is glorified in my obedience to the calling of being Mimi. He does the glorifying of Himself through me, as I am obedient in this season. (I would post more but a little girl has to go potty. May God he glorified!)

    1. TinaW says:

      Wow, what similarities, other than I have not been in a public career of ministry… but I have been the quiet servant behind the scenes, I have kicked and cried, dreaded the mornings, but once I realized I was to be the Naynah (grandma), I see my task at hand as a talent from God that is to be used to bring God into places He hasn’t been allowed. Hearts of loved ones, they are my mission field at this time and through just one granddaughter I am planted seeds for God’s harvest. Will I see the harvest fully ripened, I don’t know, and at times I have to stop bow and pray for forgiveness, because this job, I cannot do in my strength… I fail miserably.. But God… Thankfully I know when I am in tune to God and His will, I cannot fail.. so through this one small ever growing little girl, I will continue to be reminded that she is my bridge to the city of people God is calling out to… Forgive me if this is not clear, but I am not great with words, but felt the need to reply… God’s blessings on you all today.

      1. Kendra says:

        Love your words!

      2. churchmouse says:

        Thank you for reminding me of the importance of this grandmothering. Your words encourage me!

    2. Mel says:

      Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this. Fill in “mama” for “Mimi” and I’m in your shoes. What a blessing it is that your son/daughter have you to help raise their child. What a reassurance that “family is my first mission field and it is noble, honorable, God-glorifying work. I gave up my young, fresh creative business in order to raise my daughter. Every day I struggle with feeling insignificant, “invisible, enters depleting…” Your words are encouraging.

    3. Sarah says:

      I’m so encouraged by this! Thank you for sharing Churchmouse. My husband and I decided I would be a stay-at-home mom a a few months ago after having my now 6-month old twin boys. I was delighted and still am but have definitely struggled with the same words you’ve shared. This week the Holy Spirit has gently guided me to say “Lord, I’m going to wash these bottles to your glory.”… or whatever the task may be! It is His doing to be glorified by these little, seemingly mundane tasks. Praise God for sending His Holy Spirit to use us for His glory. It is not by me!

    4. Victoria says:

      Thank you, Churchmouse, for sharing you words of encouragement. “He is glorified in my quiet time and He is glorified in my obedience to the calling of being Mimi. He does the glorifying of Himself through me, as I am obedient in this season.”

    5. April L. says:

      I enjoy your comments everyday. I am a preschool teacher and love my job. You are shaping and molding our next generation. Also, I was kept by my Mimi and Papa. You may have to wait until that 2 year old gets bigger but I feel quite sure, that is when you will reap your reward. My grands passed 3 years ago, and I miss them terribly. They were another set of parents to me. I still praise them for helping raise me. They taught me valuable lessons that you can’t learn in school. You have the opportunity to show Jesus to your 2 year old. I think close relationships with grandparents is so important for children and makes them appreciate life more.

  6. Tina says:

    It’s not even a case of being found out! God already knows…He already knows…What I have done, what I have thought, who I have been, or tried to be in my own strength. .agh. The sorrow of it all..
    But God..
    He loves me still…

    It is ‘easy’to sing of God’s goodness..when you have seen Him move, when prayers are answered, when life is great. . BUT
    Yesterday, I spoke of our pastor and the devastating effect his departure has had on our church…He had stood at the front, proclaiming the word..praising and glorifying the Lord God, all the while he was hiding his secret, I guess more from us because God already knew… ( I promise you, I am not judging, just using this as an example), but king David and Auchen before him, not to mention those of us that have followed since..
    Lore asks ‘what if the way God makes His name great is not through public a acts of piety, but private acts of repentance? What if His greatest act of glory is on exposing the darkest of lies our hearts have clung to, only to replace with the light of His Mercy and Truth. .
    He knows. .He has known. He will always know..
    How awesome that knowing ALL, He still, still, still desires take things right for us, and not to abandon us…
    Absolutely in awe, and ever so thankful for His love, mercy and call to repent for His glory. .
    Lord, unearth the secret sins in my heart, expose them to your Light and healing, that your glory may be revealed…
    Thank you Lord God for loving me still, no matter my wrong..
    All glory to you on Lord. .
    Love and blessings to you my sisters…happy Friday. .xx

    1. Naomi says:

      Amen Tina!

  7. Ljohnson says:

    Whoa… THIS. This is getting it on some really deep level. Goodbye fluffy morning devo. Hello digging deep into what God is doing in my life. “What if the way God makes himself great is not through public acts of piety, but private acts of repentance.” I keep learning that the way up is down. That’s a major theme throughout all of scripture. And I have to keep learning it over and over. It’s ALWAYS about God. We are not the main character in our own story. I have got to get off the throne.

    1. Robin W. says:

      Tough stuff this morning, for sure. Thanks for the reminder to get off the throne.

  8. Cecilia says:

    So goood!

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