Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Monkey Business

“13-Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the Lord God of Israel: “There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you.”
(Joshua 7:13)

There are some hunters in Africa that can trap a monkey with just a gourd and some fruit & nuts. The hunter simply goes into the jungle and ties the gourd to the ground. You know what a gourd is don't you? It's a hollowed out shell, shaped like a fat wine bottle. It's got a fat body with a skinny neck and it's hollow inside. Well, the hunter simply drops some fruit and nuts inside the gourd and leaves it overnight.The monkey comes up to the gourd, smelling the fruit and nuts, and reaches his little arm in the gourd and grabs the tasty treat. When he grabs the fruit and nuts, his fist will no longer fit out of the gourd. The monkey pulls and pulls, but he can't get away. He will stay overnight stuck to the gourd, unwilling to let go of his prize.
In the morning the hunter returns to see the little monkey with his arm in the gourd. As the hunter approaches, the monkey screams and pulls his arm with all his might, actually starting to pull some of the fur and skin off his hand ... but he won't let go.
The hunter easily captures the monkey and throws the monkey in the bag.

We all know that the monkey could’ve let go, thus ensuring freedom. Yet, as long as the monkey holds tightly to that which had captured his attention, bondage is unavoidable and freedom will forever be out of reach. Regardless of how desirous the monkey is to be free, he will remain bound. Despite how hard it may twist, jerk and scream, until the monkey is willing to let go, he will always remain vulnerable prey to the powers that be.

The children of Israel found themselves in a similar situation. For some odd reason, they could not stand against their enemies. They should have overcome the city of Ai with ease, instead they were struck down and fled from before the men of Ai. Joshua is perplexed to the cause of their defeat and begins to consult the Almighty.

God’s response is insightful.
He fundamentally said, “You cannot stand before your enemies because you’re holding on to something else. You will not be able to overcome them until you let go.” Just as the monkey held onto the grain and fruit, remain bound and powerless to flee, so the children of Israel, holding on to the accursed would remain powerless to overcome their enemies.

Joshua tried praying, tearing his clothes in lamentations, but to no avail. There was a elementary kingdom principle and spiritual law at work in the realm of the unseen that was directly affecting the outcomes on earth.

There can be no deliverance from any bondage, as long as the principles and laws that permitted the bondage in the first place are still being violated. Here in Joshua chapter seven, we have an account of this very principle at work.

Don’t be mistaken, when we hold on to people, relationships even things that are counterproductive to our spiritual health and holiness, we to will nullify the power of deliverance in our lives. And, the consequences are no less lethal than they were for the children of Israel as they faced Ai. Furthermore, we must understand that at that point, we too are open to being spiritually, emotionally, mentally, even physically struck down.

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity,
stability and beauty of the biotic community.
It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

(Aldo Leopold, American ecologist, 1887-1948)

"There will always be a part, and always a very large part of every community, that have no care but for themselves, and whose care for themselves reaches little further than impatience of immediate pain, and eagerness for the nearest good"
Samuel Johnson English Poet, Critic and Writer. 1709-1784

q Can you see a time in your life where these principles and laws of freedom and bondage were at work in your life?

q Is there an issue that you’ve been struggling with for a while, unable to overcome?

If so, could it be that you’re holding on to something that is inhibiting your freedom?

q Are there certain areas in your life where you are you more susceptible to sticking your hand in the gourd? (Sometimes these areas may not be physical sin. They could be ways of thinking and feeling.

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