Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings (Matthew 23:37b)
God is always gracious and merciful, and the most ever-loving Father. God always loves His people and provides the best. God dearly loved the Israelites because of only one reason – they were His beloved children. God, as the most loving parent, watched over them to a minute detail. However, the Israelites, who were sinful like us, constantly tried to do things with their own way while forgetting what God did for them. It is a human nature that we always want to be in control. If we feel we are in control, we are comfortable. If not, we are uncomfortable. From the deepest part of our heart, we are hearing a small voice of insecurity, although it has to be the other way around. Only when we are in His mighty and loving hand, we have the highest level of security. Jesus told:
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:9-11)
God is patient. He patiently waited for us, especially when we go astray due to our own ego, which suddenly becomes bigger than God. So many times, we learned and experienced about this ugliness, but when a favorable wind blows and a bright sun warms our heart, we soon run toward what is good and right to our eyes without talking to God. Soon, we get into trouble. After then, we look back and question. It is the moment that God has specifically and lovingly prepared for us. No pain and no gain. Even in the spiritual realm, this principle works. Often this the engine making us to move through our own sanctification process, transforming us holier and closer to God -- meaning getting like Him. Let’s look around those who are mature in their spiritual work in faith and reading about those who were our forefathers who kept their faith even under an unimaginable situation. Surely no exception is found. Unfortunately, going astray from God belongs to us, but the Love of God is always with us, which even greater than this.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
When we are in our life trouble, soon or later, we get to a point that we have no place to go. We had already done everything known to us and including something that we could only imagine in a dream. Why is there no way out but being stuck in our life trouble? The answer is that God dearly, madly loves us. Although we feel completely opposite, it is the time that the God intervenes and is tightly holding us with His almighty and loving hand. He is preventing us to go down the rathole that we have made any further and deeper.
King Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful king at that time. He heard a wisdom of Daniel from God, but he could not put into a real practice. His ego was greater than God.
King Nebuchadnezzar was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’
“While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’
“That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.
“After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever.
Nebuchadnezzar praised God:
His rule is everlasting,
and his kingdom is eternal.
All the people of the earth
are nothing compared to him.
He does as he pleases
among the angels of heaven
and among the people of the earth.
No one can stop him or say to him,
‘What do you mean by doing these things?’ (Daniel 4:34b-35)
Even the King of Babylon experienced who God was, and God forgave the king’s sin when the king truly recognized his sin and his huge ego used to be bigger than God. If God cared for the Babylonian king, how much would He do for God’s children whom He madly loves?
Let’s return to Joshua and the Israelites, who learned the hard way. In a few days later, the Israelites found they were completely deceived. The Gibeonites lived right next to where they were, although Joshua and the leaders of the Israelites believed that they came from a land with a far distance. Of course, they thoroughly examined all evidences, and made a rational decision, but they forgot the most critical one -- asking God. Then their deception made them being harshly blamed by the Israelites, which put a real shame on Joshua and the leader. Yes, it could be worse. God was so gracious and merciful. God protected from the deception and minimized damage. Under God’s hand, the Gibeonites were peacefully integrated without giving additional trouble or harm. Yes, God was always faithful to His children and protected them. The same God with us under any circumstances. This is our faith.
The world is not so simple as we expect or think because we are not in charge. God, who is above all things, guides us through the maze of this world that we cannot understand to make us to grow deeper the relationship with Our Heavenly Father.
Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had captured and completely destroyed Ai and killed its king, just as he had destroyed the town of Jericho and killed its king. He also learned that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel and were now their allies. He and his people became very afraid when they heard all this because Gibeon was a large town—as large as the royal cities and larger than Ai. And the Gibeonite men were strong warriors.
So King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem sent messengers to several other kings: Hoham of Hebron, Piram of Jarmuth, Japhia of Lachish, and Debir of Eglon. “Come and help me destroy Gibeon,” he urged them, “for they have made peace with Joshua and the people of Israel.” So these five Amorite kings combined their armies for a united attack. They moved all their troops into place and attacked Gibeon.
The men of Gibeon quickly sent messengers to Joshua at his camp in Gilgal. “Don’t abandon your servants now!” they pleaded. “Come at once! Save us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings who live in the hill country have joined forces to attack us.”
What Joshua did for this time? Did he count his worriers first to make an informed and wise decision – whether he can fight against the united armies of five kings’ warriors? So far, Joshua led His people and fought against one king at a time. The situation was quite different. Five kings united as one against the Israelites. He had to fight for the five kings and their united armies. Additionally, the battle was not the matter of their own safety, but for the Gibeonites, who deceived and made Joshua fall in shame before the entire Israelites. If we were Joshua, what would be the best course of action? The number of the Israelite’s warriors were far less than that of the united armies. Many rationally might chose to do nothing. But Joshua did not. First He humbly asked God not for their own safety, but for the Gibeonites. This pleased God, and answered to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.” God saw Joshua’s faith, who did rely on his ego, wisdom and smartness before. Joshua truly humbled before God. In God’s eye, Joshua was truly ready for a next greater thing that God had prepared.
Who is our God? The God who led the Israelites by making them walk on dryland through the Red Sea. The God who made water gush out of the rock. The God who provided manna throughout the dry wilderness. The God who split the Jordan river during the harvest season when the water level was the highest. The God who made the invincible wall of Jericho fall before the shout of the Israelites, His believed people. The God who never forgot His beloved children, the Israelites. Most importantly, the God who madly loved the Israelites because they were His beloved children. Yes, God was good to the Israelites, and now He is good to us now because we are His beloved children like the Israelites. Then what we can say today? We give thanks to God, and praise Him with the highest and loudest voice. God is Our Ever-Loving Father, and we are His beloved children in His kingdom. Sing praise. Sing Praise to God, who is Our Ever-Loving Father from now to forever!
Praise the LORD!
Yes, give praise, O servants of the LORD.
Praise the name of the LORD!
Blessed be the name of the LORD
now and forever.
Everywhere—from east to west—
praise the name of the LORD.
For the LORD is high above the nations;
his glory is higher than the heavens.
Who can be compared with the LORD our God,
who is enthroned on high?
He stoops to look down
on heaven and on earth.
He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
even the princes of his own people!
He gives the childless woman a family,
making her a happy mother.
Praise the LORD! (Psalm 113)