“And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!”
The Israelites were finally in the Promised Land. The first city they faced was Jericho, and God gave them a mighty victory. The next challenge was Ai, and there, because of Achan’s sin, God’s people were humiliated and defeated. As Joshua heard the devastating report concerning the trouble at Ai, he cried out to God in anguish. This was certainly not what Joshua expected to happen in Canaan. He was looking for God to defeat the Canaanites and give the people their inheritance.
Our text is a part of Joshua’s prayer. Not knowing that Achan’s covetousness and disobedience were to blame for their defeat, Joshua complained to God as to why He
allowed this event to take place. Why would God bring them into Canaan that they might be defeated? Notice the words of his grievance, “would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!” It is as if Joshua, in his rashness, is saying that they would have been better off staying safely on the other side of Jordan. This may have seemed easier, but it would also have been out of God’s will.
What can we learn from this? There are two thoughts for us to consider in this event. First, we should think about how we ought to respond in times of defeat. This was a demoralizing loss for God’s people. We can be confident that when we find ourselves in spiritual defeat, the place to put blame is not on God. Rather than accusing God for allowing it to happen, it would be wiser for us to ask what we might have done to contribute to the overthrow. God directed Joshua to find out the sin that resulted in this catastrophe.
Then, we see how inappropriate it is to ponder the past life as though it might have been better to remain in the wilderness than to seek to conquer our Canaan. Joshua was wrong to consider that it might have been better to be “content…on the other side Jordan!” They spent forty years wandering in that wilderness because of their unbelief. To go back there would be a step in a very bad direction. It is never good to be content out of God’s will. It would be better to try and fail in God’s will, than to be content in a place God does not want us to be.