Devout Christians: Unveiling the Historical and Spiritual Significance of the Bible – Lessons from the Tower of Babel and the Defeat at Ai.

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( People often forget that the Bible is not just a spiritual document detailing God’s dealing with humanity through Israel, and introducing Jesus and the Gospels to the world, but also a terrific compendium of historical events that are recorded nowhere else but in the Bible. It is true that other civilisations, other than the Israelites, compiled their own records, but their records did not endure and so are permanently lost to humanity.

Devout Christians: Unveiling the Historical and Spiritual Significance of the Bible - Lessons from the Tower of Babel and the Defeat at Ai.

Let’s take but one example of the unique, historical value of the Bible.

It is from the Bible, and only the Bible, that we know how different languages originated, and this historical fact, that occurred around 2150 BC, has to do with the Tower of Babel and God’s plan to populate the world. This is recorded in Genesis 11:1-9. We know this date, 2150 BC, to be about right, because calculations (and Ussher) show that the Tower of Babel happened about 150 years after the flood.

The Bible details much that is important to know, especially about the early days of human habitation, and though in the Old Testament, it has Israel at its epicenter, and Israel, because of the Patriarch Abraham, and God’s covenant with him, was a favoured nation. Nevertheless the Old Testament tells us much about Israel’s successes, but also about her defeats.

We know from the Bible, that the Jews came to be named Israel because of a grandson of Abraham, Jacob, who had 12 sons, and each became the head of a tribe of people who resided in Canaan. When things became difficult in Canaan, the fledgling Israel went to live in Egypt, and God prospered them, and they grew and became industrious and successful. In due course of time, Egypt turned against the Israelites, and made them slaves, and kept them in bondage in Egypt, making Israel’s exile last for about 400 years.

After Israel left Egypt, they roamed in the wilderness for 40 years, and then entered the Promised Land. The Promised Land (Canaan) was occupied by 7 nations that were larger and more powerful than Israel (Deuteronomy 7:1)

How could Israel, a smaller, weaker nation, defeat all those stronger nations that stood in their way, and occupy the Promised Land?

The answer was, because God had promised Israel to go before them and assist them. Here is what God told the new leader Joshua, who was to take Israel into the Promised Land, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Joshua 1:5)

With this ringing endorsement in his ears, how can Joshua fail? God was going before Israel, leading Joshua from victory to victory, defeating all the enemies that stand in the way, conquering every acre of land that God promised, surprising and defeating nation after nation, just as God had promised.

And then wallop! A crushing, humiliating, disastrous defeat. How can this be?

This crushing defeat came as Joshua sent his army to fight against the people of Ai, and here is how the Bible described the battle:

“And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.” (Joshua 7:2-5)

Defeat is like that, “wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.”

The battle for Ai, and the crushing defeat that followed, is so very typical of our life, and we must learn to cope with these circumstances in our day to day living. The thrill of victory can so easily and quickly be substituted with the agony of defeat, and make no mistake about it, as long as we live we will experience defeat.

It was the US reformer Wendell Phillips (1811-1884) who said, “Every man meets his Waterloo at last.”

Notice how Joshua, a good and honourable man, reacted to this defeat, “And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.” (Joshua 7:6)

The plain truth is that nothing is ever accomplished with our face in the dirt like Joshua, or being overwhelmed by our failures and problem and becoming dysfunctional. God expects better of us than that, as he did of Joshua, and commanded, “And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? (Joshua 7:10)

So how can we use defeat as a positive?

First, we need to deal with our shortcomings honestly and resolutely. It is so very easy, and evasive, to engage in finger pointing when we are defeated. This is nearly always a reaction based on superficiality and impulsiveness. It will require a thorough analysis of all relevant factors with nothing left out.

There are some situations where defeat follows defeat, because due diligence has not been done with integrity and thoroughness. In sport, when a team is defeated, good coaches and managers will show video recording of the entire game, analyse the errors made, the inadequate tactics, slow responses and the like, and make sure everyone is on the same page going forward.

When failure is more personal, like a broken marriage, a loss of temper, or even a citation for speeding, then any analysis must include the component of moving on, because of necessity, it is imperative to get on with your life, and not let a defeat totally consume you.

Second, we have to examine our true relationship with God. As Christians, God is at the heart of everything we do, so a defeat must necessarily involve a dissonance with God. We must not just think everything is spiritually okay, we must know it. A drift away from God, is nearly always gradual, slowly, bit by bit, until we are far from God and we don’t even recognise it.

This slow drift is what occurred to the church at Ephesus, a gradual decrease of their passion for God. Along with that, other attendant graces that should boldly be in play, are sidelined, making them vulnerable. The thing to do here, is as Paul admonished, “…but let a man examine himself..” (1 Corinthians 11:28) and this should lead to concrete action.

Remember what God said to the Ephesians, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5)

Third, we need to rebuild focus. This is sometimes very difficult to do, especially if the failure is deeply personal. Sometimes defeat so demoralises, and befuddles the mind, that the defeated walks around in a haze, as if reality has been suspended, as if this is not happening, after all this just can’t happen to me.

But it can, and it does, and you with God’s grace have to overcome, and move forward once again. It was the prophet Micah, who said, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise.” (Micah 7:8)

Defeat, no matter how bitter and consuming, should never break you, for you as a Christian must know the mighty resources at your disposal. The resources are there, and you need to draw on them in your time of defeat. Remember what Paul said, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

A defeat, a fall, should always be followed by a glorious rising. If it is one thing the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ should teach us, is that, what on the one hand may appear like a crushing defeat, may on the other hand turn out to be the means of wonderful things to come.

Staff Writer; Henderson W.

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