Overcoming Defeat

Krista Williams

Day: 8 | Plan: Joshua-Judges

Today’s Reading: Joshua 8

Joshua 8:34 (NIV) “Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law—the blessings and the curses—just as it is written in the Book of the Law.”

A strong sense of community exists throughout the Bible—especially in the Old Testament. No person acts in isolation; an individual’s actions always impact a larger community.

After Achan disobeyed God, Achan, his family and 36 valiant warriors died because of his sin. And that’s not all. Israel suffered a devastating defeat at Ai because there was sin in the camp. Israel would no longer be able to stand and fight their enemies with sin among them. (Joshua 7:12) Sin must be dealt with no matter how hard we try to bury it or hide it from others. God knows our sin, and like Achan, we can be sure our sin will find us out. (Numbers 32:23)

Achan’s story reminds us to never underestimate the amount of damage one person outside the will of God can bring upon an entire community of faith. It’s true. The disobedience of one person can bring trouble and defeat on many.

But how can we overcome defeat? How can we regain lost ground? How do we get back on track?

As we read Joshua 8 we see … one setback … one failure … one defeat doesn’t have to define us. We don’t have to let a past failure or sin rob us of future victory.

The first step to working through defeat is to deal with the failure so we can move on. When God sees we have obeyed His Word and sincerely dealt with sin, He gives us encouragement and guidance to begin again. (Joshua 8:1) I love it that God never discourages His people from making progress. We don’t have to stay stuck. In fact, God delights to show Himself strong and mighty on behalf of those whose hearts are devoted to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Joshua was a man devoted to the Lord. As Joshua sought the Lord, the Lord gave him a plan. Joshua and the people got busy following God’s plan exactly, and then God granted them a major victory at Ai. It is obedience to God’s Word that is the secret to God-given success. (Joshua 1:7) God can turn those places of defeat in our lives into places of victory when we honestly deal with our sin and turn to follow His guidance and instructions.

Once the people gained the victory over Ai, they built an altar to the Lord on Mount Ebal just as the Lord had commanded them. It was there, out of obedience to God, that Joshua read all the words of the Law—the blessings and curses. (Joshua 8:34)

The Word of God must have come alive for these people at that point. They had personally lived out the truth of God’s Word for themselves. They had experienced the agony of defeat as a result of disobedience. (Joshua 7) And they gained firsthand knowledge of the victory that comes from obedience to God’s command. (Joshua 8)

The stark contrast between these two chapters teaches us a recurring principle from Scripture: Miracles of faith are for the obedient. If you and I want to overcome defeat in our lives, we must live in obedience to God’s Word. God has a plan for His people, and the way to succeed is to obey His instructions.

Prayer: Lord God, You are faithful and kind. You bear with us over and over again. You are always ready to help us overcome those places of past defeat. Thank You, Father, that You never discourage us from getting up and beginning again with You. You graciously guide us. As I begin my day, I commit it to You. It’s a new beginning, and I want to walk in obedience to Your Word and follow hard after You today. So Holy Spirit, please guide me and direct every step. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 Dig deeper into your study of Joshua and Judges with study questions that will help you better apply this truth every day. Learn more here!

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