Bad Advice

Bad Advice: Whose instructions do you follow?

Have you ever wanted to do something but was unsure of which step to take or what decision to make? At these times, we begin to think of which friend(s) would be able to help us, so we go to them and ask for advice.

Nothing is wrong with getting advice from our family and friends. Proverbs 15: 22 (NKJV) says, “without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established”. Evidently, there are benefits from seeking advice (counsel) from persons. However, we need to know that, even though we take advice from our counsellors, we still need to ask God to guide us.

In the book of Joshua, chapter 7, we will see how taking the counsel of men alone was to the detriment of the Israelites. In order for us to fully understand this story, allow me to give you the background.

The book of Joshua gives us the historical facts pertaining to the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis; that his descendants would be given the land of Canaan as an inheritance. Joshua, the second leader of the people of Israel, was from the tribe of Ephraim. He was told by God to be strong and courageous when he assumed leadership after the death of Moses (Joshua 1). Joshua’s first battle, in his position as leader, was against the city of Jericho and he was victorious as God had given him instructions in what approach to take against the city.

Jehovah told Joshua that they should march around the wall once for six days, but on the seventh day they should march around the wall seven times and on the seventh time they should blow the trumpets and shout. They followed that instruction to the “T”. However…someone was disobedient. Achan. In addition to telling the Israelites how to approach the battle, Jehovah also told them that after they had destroyed the city and killed the people, they should take nothing but the gold, silver, iron, and bronze which were to be placed in the treasury in the tabernacle of the Lord. Everything else was considered “accursed” (cursed). Achan, being led by his desires, took a garment(s), and stole some of the gold and silver that were supposed to be used in the house (tent) of the Lord.

The story took a turn for the worst when Joshua and Israel began to make preparations to fight their next battle. Joshua 7:2-3 says, “Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, “Go up and spy out (view) the country.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few.

The word “view”, used in the KJV version, is from the Hebrew word רגל (transliterated as râgal, and pronounced raw-gal’). It also signifies to walk about for the purposes of exploration, and to spy (Strong’s Concordance). In essence, the men were supposed to bring a report on what was happening in the city. If we take a look at the prior exploration of Jericho, that was what the spies did; they gave Joshua a report of everything that happened to them (Joshua 2).

However, the men who spied out Ai returned with not only a report, but a strategy. They told Joshua what approach he should take in fighting the people of Ai. That approach is different from the one in Joshua 2:23 when some men spied out Jericho. Those men only told Joshua what happened to them but never told him how to fight. It is possible that the spies in Joshua 7 were more confident of victory than the spies in Joshua 2, because Jericho had a massive wall around the city, while Ai’s defence was significantly weaker. So, they told Joshua what to do and because of that, he never stopped to ask God what to do.

We should never be so confident about our plans/intentions that we fail to ask God for directions. As a result of Joshua failing to seek God, he was not aware that they would have lost because sin was in the camp. He did not give God the opportunity to say, “No, Joshua. Do not go up to fight because I will not be with you. Someone has disobeyed me.” Or something to that effect. Yes, God could have said something to him but as His servant, it was Joshua’s duty to ask His master what to do.

If we are God’s children, why do we listen to everyone else’s opinion/instruction except God’s? As with our earthly parents, whom we must get approval from before we can go somewhere, it should be similar with our heavenly father. We should find out what he desires of us.

After asking/hearing from our friends if we should study a particular programme or course; date a particular individual; attend a specific event; pursue a certain career path; or even take a trip, we should get a second opinion from Jehovah. Why? Simply because he knows everything, he sees the end from the beginning, he knows what will happen whether it is good or bad. However, the greatest answer is that he is our father and he only wants whats best for us.

So, we look back at Joshua and we see that he listened to the spies. Although it was not their intention, as we can assume they meant well, their advice was a bad one. However, Joshua followed their counsel and went to fight the people of Ai. As a result of not seeking God, and because sin was in the camp, approximately forty (40) men died. Wives lost their husbands, children lost their fathers, parents lost their sons, and siblings lost their brothers. All because counsel/advice was followed without anyone seeking God’s input.

Every decision has a consequence. Every action has a reaction.

Whose instructions do you follow?

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