Tuesday, December 8, 2009

REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR -- Devotional for December 7, from "Good Seeds"

The spies returned to Joshua and said, “Do not send many, for Ai is small.” But when the nations met for battle, Ai struck down the army of Israel, and the hearts of God’s people melted. (Joshua 7:3-5)

Ai was a tiny kingdom, maybe the size of just one of the tribes of noble Israel. Japan was a small country, maybe the size of just one of the states of mighty America. Little was known of Ai until spies came back with a confident report: “Don’t trouble yourself, Joshua; two or three thousand troops should be more than sufficient to shove this tiny city-state aside.” But when the two forces met, the mouse totally routed the elephant and, as the text renders it, “they struck them down on the descent” (verse 5). In the early days of December 1941, though well aware of Japan’s imperialistic advances, we had no idea our Pacific Fleet was about to be attacked while sleeping in its cozy Pearl Harbor hideaway. Japan proved to be a formidable enemy, and “struck us down on the descent” with wave after wave of bomb laden Zeroes. Nevertheless, the greatest enemy America faced was within – the enemy of complacency. For Israel, it was the same: though Ai was surely a “mighty little giant” (ch. 7), later it was proved that they could be quite handily beaten, once things were in order on the home front (ch. 8). It was the same at Pearl Harbor as at Ai: the problem was not the power without, but the weakness within. And as it is with the armies of any nation, so it is with individuals of any generation: As soon as we let our guard down – which happens whenever our self-confidence goes up – we are doomed to destruction. I Corinthians 10:12 warns, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.” What was Israel’s weakness within? It all came from their previous miraculous conquest of Jericho. The Lord had won that victory for His people without their wielding any weapon but that of praise. God told them to blow ram’s horns as they marched around the city, a sound that signaled a victory just won. Praise, by definition, is thanking God in advance for what we know He can do and by faith believe He will do. They trusted in nothing but the plan and power of God that day. What else could they do? And God brought a glorious victory! All He asked in exchange for His bringing down the walls of Jericho was that they not covet the spoils, but let them be covered – buried with the rest of the city, as a memorial to His intervention on their behalf. In the midst of violating that command they approached Ai. You, too, have an Ai. “I can handle this one, Lord. Don’t trouble Yourself.” Let not such words pass your lips! Remember Jericho: only God can save you; remember Ai: the smallest enemy can defeat you. Remember Pearl Harbor: complacency can kill you!

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