And Joshua had commanded the people saying; ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you to shout; then you shall shout. – Joshua 6:10
So the Israelites are about to take the Promised Land. This is their second shot at it. The first time, under the leadership of Moses, they chickened out. They could not take their focus off of the enemy and place their focus on God. “We cannot attack those people, for they are stronger than we are.” (Numbers 13:31) How insulted God must have been, especially after all they had seen Him do. No wonder they were denied entrance.
Moses endured a lot of complaining. “We were better off back in Egypt,” he heard God’s chosen people say repeatedly. “You only brought us out here to die,” they would say. He would listen to it, pray about it, God would miraculously answer, they’d be happy for a day or two, and then they would complain again. I think if this were today, there would be a couple of things added to these Biblical conversations. When someone said, “Hey, stop complaining and don’t be so negative,” then the other person would say, “Don’t judge me . . . only God can judge me!” Then, someone else would say, “Hey, we all make mistakes . . . nobody is perfect.”
I feel like we are in a Moses type era where all voices are being heard, the positive ones and the negative ones. The Internet, mainly social media, has given people an outlet to complain and grumble about absolutely everything. Just as most of the Israelites grumbled constantly against Moses, Americans today grumble against the White House. Church people constantly grumble against church leaders. Bigger churches belittle small churches, and small churches badmouth big ones. If they don’t do it directly, they do it indirectly through some trite video or meme that takes some cheap shot at the way “they” do ministry.
So what should we who call ourselves followers of Jesus do? How should we be?
Well, read the main verse for today again. When the Israelites got their second shot, Joshua wanted everyone silent. He didn’t want to hear how their feet hurt from all that walking. He didn’t want them asking how much longer it would be before they could shout. He didn’t want them asking, “What is walking around a stupid wall going to do?” He didn’t even want to hear anyone defend him and talk about what a great job he was doing as a leader.
He wanted silence.
He had learned that giving everyone a voice and allowing complaints didn’t work the first time around, so there is no way he was going to allow it this time. We all now have a voice on social media and in the comment section of nearly every news article.
How is that working out for us? Is it unifying us? Or, is it dividing us?
Suppose we really are in the last days before the return of our Lord. Are we better prepared because we can get on Facebook and know exactly what is on everyone’s mind? We can’t see the person’s heart, so even what seems good could really be bad. I mean, you have no idea if I am posting “judge not” because I like my sinful behavior and plan on keeping it, or if I’m posting “please pray” to show off my piety and elevate myself above the Godless heathen who go to “that” church and are still wallowing in the pigpen because nobody really gets saved there. Or, maybe I go to “that church,” and I’m going to turn around and “pray for you” because you are obviously stuck in a religious mindset in your little backwoods traditional church.
But here is always the thing: God knows the heart behind absolutely everything I say. And when I get really, really honest with Him . . . I know. Jesus actually says this in Matthew 12:36: “But I tell you that everyone will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” That scares me. Does it you?
Lord, help me stick to being silent when it comes to pointless, one-sided arguments where the majority have clearly drawn a line in the sand and taken sides. Most right or wrong arguments will make absolutely no difference in eternity. Keep me focused on the one thing that really matters in this life . . . knowing you and having your presence on my life. Help me continue to walk with you and open my mouth only when necessary. Lead me. Guide me. Help me walk around those huge walls of sin and darkness that absolutely will not come down by short, pious comments on Facebook. Bring them down your way, and in your time.
Just let me know when it is time to shout.