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, 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.” – Joshua 7:10-12 (NIV)
Rooting out the things that cause us to sin is a process. Israel had taken a long time to become the faithful followers God desired them to be, but when the geography changed, they lost faith. In taking the devoted things they were essentially saying, “God is not enough for us. God is not providing what we need.” They decided to take their lives into their own hands. This is the tension we all deal with as we grow in our relationship with God; what I want and what God wants. As we are transformed more and more into the image of Christ, those two things start to look similar, but we need to remember that what God wants is the reference point.
As our children grow and mature, they will reach new ground – their geography will change – and their level of commitment to God’s wants is tested. They will need us to be a Joshua for them in those new countries. It is a short walk from faithful obedience to doubtful wandering. When our children grow older and make friends and venture further into the world, they will be tempted with things devoted to destruction. These things are destined to pass from existence. They have no permanence or eternal value. They have no power but what we imbue them with through our wants and desires.
It is left to us to teach our children to say “No” to devoted things; to reject the pull that things doomed to destruction have on us. This does not mean that our children cannot have certain clothes or technology or money, but we need to do our best to make sure they do not have our children. The people of Israel gave themselves over to devoted things – things devoted to destruction – and they lost the blessing of God. If we are not there to call our children to truth, to holiness, to faithfulness, we leave them vulnerable to the pull of the world.
Whenever our children are treading into new territory, we need to be watchful for those things that might pull our children off track. Not so much to protect them from those things, but to help our children see those things for what they are and help them make the right choices about those things. God could have made a fire consume all of Jericho when the wall fell, but He didn’t. He left it to the Israelites to destroy and put to death those things devoted to destruction. We need to equip our children to face these temptations in order to help them overcome and be victorious.
Lord, help me remove the things devoted to destruction from having any influence on my life. Teach me to be solely dependent on you. Give me a heart that hungers for you and not the things of this world. And help me speak these same truths into the ear and minds and hearts of my children when they face new territory. Amen.