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Clarity of Vision

Every venture in life requires leadership. It isn’t that leaders are necessarily more talented or intelligent than the people they lead. They are simply entrusted with the vision that enables the whole group to function well. In Judges 1, the people of Israel were in need of leadership. Joshua died after successfully leading them in the dividing up of the land. When he was alive, there was no doubt that God had chosen him to communicate the plan of victory. He understood the objectives and the plan to carry them out. He had a clear picture of what God was leading them to do and people recognized his authority because of the clarity. He is a great example of how God raises people to positions of leadership by giving them a clear vision. But now he was gone and the work was not finished.
The process of settling the land was still in progress and people who would undermine all that God had planned were still dwelling in many regions. The objective was intense. God had promised the land of Canaan to the nation of Israel but it was inhabited by others who wanted to stay. The possibility of coexistence was not likely because their differences were incompatible. God Himself had told them, “they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.” (Judges 2:3) They were, therefore, left with two options. They could drive out the Canaanites or they could turn them into forced labor. Both of these options were going to be strenuous to implement and challenging to enforce.
That is where someone with vision comes in. In Judges 1, God communicates the vision to the people. The nation had grown accustomed to following the lead of Joshua, so after his death they asked the LORD, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?”
Without hesitation, He answered them, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.”
Notice how clear this is. We know exactly who should go – Judah. We know exactly what they should do – fight against the Canaanites. We know exactly what to expect – I have given the land into their hands.
The beginning of this new venture went well. In short order, they began to experience success. It was a difficult mission, however, and somewhere along the way, the mindset of the people began to change. “The Benjamites, however, did not drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem.” (v. 21) “Manasseh did not drive out the people . . . for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land.” (v. 27) “Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer.” (v. 29) Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites.” (v. 30)
Those decisions led to the adoption of a different vision. “When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely.” (v. 28) They probably didn’t realize it but in doing so, they decided that God was no longer their leader. They adopted the conventional wisdom of the day and insured a history of complications and conflict for themselves. God had given a clear vision but they concluded their wisdom was better because it made sense to keep bodies around to fill out the work force. And, intellectually it would have made sense to most of us as well.
It is no less of a challenge for us today. We are debating issues today that many of us never dreamed would be topics of debate. They seemed very clear not too many years ago. Conventional wisdom, however, has taken hold and the arguments have become very personal. Disagreeing has now been interpreted as rejection. Having convictions has been deemed judgmental. Seeking truth has been declared narrow-minded.
My prayer for all of us is that God gives us the wisdom to think clearly, the courage to hold solid convictions and the determination to seek out what is true in all our decisions.

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4 Responses

  1. Welcome back Bill!! Thanks for your words of wisdom exactly when I need them. It is possible that we haven’t been asking the Lord for His direction lately. Have a great week.

  2. Great blog Bill! Especially like your conclusions, and particularly how relevant your thoughts – and the Scripture you share – have in our lives and our world today. I agree with Glenn; further, it is also possible that we’ve been getting direction, but are we listening, and obeying?

  3. Exactly what I needed today, Bill. I was tempted to take a group I’m leading to what I thought might be a helpful detour, but God used your post to remind me of the original vision, and I’m back on course. (I know this is a blog for men, but your posts on leadership are timely, and I appreciate your thoughts.)

  4. Thank you Bill. As usual I get the sense that your insight was meant for me! There are times when I let the events or the issues of the day blur the vision I believe God has for us all.
    I have heard several times lately the common theme that if we want to make friends and keep friends we need to avoid two topics: religion and politics. How easy it might be to just focus on our common interest in sports, music, the arts, or whatever…yet…if my desire is to fulfill Gods purpose for my life…isn’t my faith in my God to be at the very core of who I am and if that’s true how can I not speak of it? Do I truly want Gods best for everyone within my circle of influence? Do I truly believe that God can use even me? Oh how I need to be reminded….Joshua 1:8-9

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