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Can failure be God’s will?

Today’s reading: Judges 20:1-Ruth 1:22

My selection: Judges 20:18

18 The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, “Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up first.”

My reflections: The people of Israel were properly outraged by the evil that had occurred in Gibeah. They sought to punish those responsible, but the tribal leaders of Benjamin defended the guilty and blocked any execution of justice. Israel prepared to fight them. Again Israel properly sought God’s direction for how to begin the battle. Twice the LORD told them to go into battle and twice they were brutally defeated. Finally in the third battle, Israel was victorious.

Does God ever decree failure for His people who do His will? This incident would indicate that God may, at times, decree apparent failure for His people, even in a good and noble endeavor. We may not assume that it is never God’s will for us to “fail” at something He has told us to do. Success, as we understand it, may not be His will. Failure may be. Israel did eventually succeed, but it would have been wrong to conclude after one or two failures that they were on the wrong track, that they had misunderstood His directions.

I believe that the LORD was using the two early defeats in battle for another secret purpose. What secret purpose? We are not told. However, there is another notable incident in biblical history where we are told how apparent defeat really led to victory. Jesus’ death on the cross seemed like complete defeat at the time. Now we can see that it led to the ultimate defeat of Satan, the crushing of the serpent’s head after the bruising of Jesus’ heel. (Acts 2:22-24; Genesis 3:15).

My challenge: Has God called you to serve Him in some way that does not seem to be successful? If It is His call, remain steadfast in spite of apparent failure. Our calling is to be faithful. Success is not always what it seems. Success is to obey and keep on obeying.

Tomorrow’s reading: Ruth 2:1- I Samuel 1:20

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