Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
Here in this brief passage of scripture is outlined the key for success or failure, depending on the principles embraced and practiced by individuals and nations. When the principles of God's law are espoused and implemented, there can be one and only result, success in whatsoever is undertaken. This sacred truth was re-iterated to Joshua as he was embarking upon his role as leader of the tribes of Israel, and it is a truth that should be considered carefully, both individually and collectively when decisions and choices are to be made. Let's read:
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
On the contrary however, sin and satanic principles always bring negative results, including death, for it is a law of the spiritual realm that reaping follows sowing with unerring accuracy. When a farmer sows a seed of corn, he does not expect to reap apples, but rather looks forward to a harvest that is commensurate with that which was sown. This sacred truth of the law of cause and effect is repeated again and again in the scriptures. Let's read:
Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Ecclesiastes 8:12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: 13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.
What is more disturbing however is the fact that a sinful course of action often adversely individuals who had absolutely nothing to do with the evil deed. The victims of the Columbine school massacre had nothing to do with the evil intentions and consequent actions of the perpetrators, yet they came to an untimely end because of the sinful course of action taken by others. Incidents such as this then lays upon us the duty and responsibility of making wise, godly choices, not merely for our own good, but also for the well-being of others.
A prominent example of how sin affects success is brought to view in one of the sad experiences of the children of Israel. Before taking the city of Jericho, they were warned not to steal any of the valuables they would come across while rummaging through the spoils of war. Achan however chose to do otherwise, and his sinful course of action resulted in the deaths of several men who were not complicit in his crime. Let's read:
Joshua 7:2 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. 4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 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.
Here we see first-hand the fact that Achan, through a single, private act of stealing, prevented success from resting upon the entire venture, and what seemed to be an apparent defeat was just the natural result of his own sinful course of action. In utter disappointment, Joshua and the elders entreated God for answers to what seemed to be an unexplainable tragedy. What follows next is a sacred truth which should be pondered soberly by nations and individuals when contemplating a wrong course of action. Let's read:
Joshua 7:6 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. 10 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.
When individuals, communities or nations are assailed with unexplainable tragedy, the natural thing to do is to cast blame or to search for scientific reasons why such dire circumstances prevailed. Sometimes tragic events can truly be linked to natural causes, but oftentimes they are the result of a sinful course of action, indulged or encouraged by one ore more persons. In times like these, we should be humble enough to make thorough investigation as to whether or not an evil course of action was the catalyst, and if so, we should then earnestly seek God for forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness. When this course of action is pursued in sincerity, it often results in a complete or partial reversal of our misfortunes, for the Lord is ever quick to forgive and to heal our wounded hearts.
The following verses of scripture should therefore be an encouragement to all who have inadvertently or deliberately placed themselves on Satan's enchanted ground by a violation of one or more of the principles and laws found in God's word. Let's read:
2nd Chronicles 7:13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
Let us always keep in mind that God delights in mercy, and is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. We also encourage everyone to choose good over evil, righteousness over sin, and light instead of darkness, for the principles and statutes found in God's word were ordained for our benefit and success. "Good night" and God bless!