“I will not be with you…”, Jos.7:12 

Once God is not with us (especially when He has been with us before), our self-righteous mind will cause us to go on thinking He is still with us when He is not, since the devil will not oppose such a kind of faith and there will be no resistance opposing it all. And God will not manifest Himself against it inside of us either. By the time God said "I will not be with you", disaster had already happened - He just explained what had already happened and would carry on happening unless something was done about it all. And God did manifest Himself only because Joshua enquired of Him, since he was made to enquire through defeat and, to him, disaster. To believe when God is not with us is easy and the devil will help it out even. This is the strangest thing that happens to the human mind, lying to self or at least misconceiving truth for what should be real alone. Truth which is not a reality in the spiritual realm of God, is a huge lie. Hope that does not lead to a wonderful end of hope is a lie and it is taking many people to hell. Let’s have in mind that hope which is blessed does not come to make us ashamed and it ends somewhere, some specific day, and it does not keep hoping as if there is no end to hoping, for it gives way to a wonderful reality and outcome. “And hope does not make us ashamed”, Rom 5:5. Truth which is not to become reality and real at last, has the devil’s hand in it. It destroys faith from its roots, just like it almost did destroy Joshua’s faith after a remarkable victory over Jericho. He had no reason to believe God was not with him by going to Ai (Jos.7), unless he went to make sure before sending only three thousand people out because it had been too easy and too presumptuous to believe. He would sense God’s quietness towards him at least and could become aware of God’s absence beforehand and do something about it in time. The truth was that God would not be with them and they counted on it, and even so ran and died before God’s own enemies because everyone, including Joshua, took it for granted God would be with them as He has been before. He could easily believe three thousand men would do it this time, even knowing God gave all the details of all instructions till then. But this time Joshua and the wise people decided for God thinking to be honouring God by that. We see God sent all the army to Ai eventually. We know the whole army was God's intention, not merely due to the enemy, but simply because the whole of the army of Israel had to be put to the test for willingness and obedience. The whole of the people needed to get involved into doing God's will for them. And it doesn't matter to God to send a million people somewhere. By few or through many, God grants victory. And the devil made Joshua believe numbers mattered to God and unopposed faith sent only three thousand men there. And his faith wasn't backed up by God and that's where the three thousand men came in so easily. I am sure he would never think about the numbers were God with him in that battle. He sent the whole army to Jericho, or so it seems. So, why not again? Was there any problem with his faith then, sending the whole army?

The devil is not so much concerned about truth being preached unless people are with God – he is more concerned about people being unholy, whatever they preach. Only if they are holy he will care to make them tell lies. It suits the devil very well when truth is accurate and accurately lined out and exposed to the hearts of men and it does not work out as it should be doing. There might be no better way to tell people truth does not work out. I don’t believe the devil is that concerned about truth as much as he is concerned about us being truthful and clean before God, fully exposed to the real light of God and as long as that is real.

Samson carried on believing God was with him when He was not and he was taken by the Philistines. And because he was taken, people easily doubt the truth of God when they are left at a right standing with God but not the prophet they looked up to before and hoped something good from. Many backsliders are responsible for many believers’ doubts and hesitations. But we all should know that there are more reasons for God to deny us besides the idea of the non-existence of God. Just because God is not there with us, we should not believe that proves that He does not exist, or that He does not care. Maybe we are the ones who do not exist, especially before Him. Maybe because He cares, He leaves us alone when we pray. Maybe because He cares, He leaves us to the devil and to destruction, so He may keep untouched by evil and hold on to whatever is still undefiled and truthful to bless it to a fuller measure.

When we do not have and breed such a communion with God as Jesus Himself had with the Father above, or like Adam had with Him in the beginning, we might not know or take notice that God has left us alone when He has. We see Cain offering to God wholeheartedly believing he would be accepted and praised for it. His disappointment was great, so great that he killed whom God did accept out of jealousy and spent and worn out by a despiteful desire for revenge to make up for the way he felt. His disappointment proves just how much he expected God to praise and reward him for what he thought he did.

We should take care, because we need to know if God is with us for real, even when He has been with us for real before. David did pray before each battle and He made sure God went out with him every time. He did not bargain with truth even when it was truth and a most reliable issue to take care of. He did not dare to doubt it either since it was truth and therefore went to his knees before daring to go out in the name of God. Because he did not dare to doubt any of it also, he went to pray over those issues all over again – he wished to make sure, did not doubt and did not feign faith to tell he believed. "But the end of the commandment is ... faith unfeigned", 1Tim. 1:5. He did not force his own faith upon himself. He needed to believe in truth, whatever it would be and whatever shape it came and as long as it was truth. There are many reasons why Jesus dared to state that “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light”, Luke 16:8. The world will easily pray because God is not with them and find God because they acknowledge and accept truth as it is, just as easily as Christians will not pray by thinking God is to be with them in a special way when He is not. God does not please people, even when such people are Christians. God delights in truth and in being truthful about anything whatsoever. And unless we have truth for a banner, reality for an aim and that according to the amount of truth we uphold and preach about, we might be disappointed eventually or all the time simply because God’s honour does not mean to some of us what it means to Him.

We dare not mistake presumption for faith or faith for presumption. Faith does not presume since it knows. Presumption presumes because it does not know; and it wishes strongly enough to be with God. We read that it was God who left Adam and Eve. We do not read that they were the ones who thought they had been left by God or that they left the Lord. Because they still believed God was with them, they did hide. Adam and Eve did hide, yes, but we don’t read that they ever wished to be away from God. Every sinner, every terrorist instigates his mind to have it believe his cause is acceptable to God. He can’t live without that, or at least without the doubt of that thought or idea instigating his mind for him. It is terrorists who convince themselves and there are many Christians who are like faith-terrorists with greater guilt upon their heads, since Jesus is real and terrorist's gods can't be.

God tells us things beforehand as if they have happened or are happening. He told Joshua “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, I have given that to you”, Jos.1:3. Because He does that, we should be careful never to be slack and believe faith is not what it is. We all know that the land had still to be conquered for God and it had not been given to them yet. Because we need to walk on promises as if they are realities already, since they are as good as realities for real, there is a slight resemblance between it being done that way and presumption. Because it is so, also, it is so easy to become slack concerning God's great issues. We know Israel never conquered the whole territory God intended for them to have. Nevertheless, presumption is fatal and faith makes alive and blesses where it puts its foot on and doesn't move its eye away from the fact that it is still to be carried out and done. By looking directly at any undone or not-achieved work, does not lessen faith that is real and reality-based. Real faith stands firm on any ground, even on water to walk on it. It stands on God and not on possibilities at all. It does not bargain - it has to know and to take a sure stand. It cannot stay wavering or a holy man will cry out deeply. If he does not, stones will.

The alert goes out, nevertheless, that every backslider believes more easily that God is with him because He is not, and he does so easier than such people with whom God might find Himself with for real. Christian, make sure God is with you for real and step out and dare to believe then. To believe God is not with you when He is not, is real faith at work because faith’s standpoint and strength is to be able to dare to believe at truth and reality as it is, as truthful, when it is true. We see just how much and how many times God worked for people not to have any hope. When people hoped upon Egypt and Ethiopia, gaining some hope to avoid believing the prophets as truthful alone, God would make sure they would not stand on false hope ever, Is.20:5.  Do not allow the devil or your mind to dwell around and to tell you it is unbelief to believe God just because He has cursed you, for it is not. Nineveh believed Jonah and got saved from wrath. Dare to face it yourself to deal with God in a truthful way and you might be helped out and saved for real - whatever truth is, either benign on malign. Dare to believe God is not with you when He is not, even if you are a successful preacher, and you will obviously be able to believe He is with you when He is. What counts is the eternal, constant fruit of all your work that shows God was in it and not any of the amount of it, nor the amount of people listening to you or giving you money. The fruit it brings to eternity (not whatever people say the fruit will be), is what will count eventually.

The greatest struggle I find in my work is to try to convince Christians God is not with them when He is not. I find it necessary to have them believe that easily since it is the first step towards holiness and a real walk with and through God - it just can't be any other way. Some of them become as upset about it all as Cain did after being convinced of some of its truthfulness, truthfulness which he could not duck away from anymore and therefore upset him to the point of murder. Some, however, go back to old beliefs after a while believing truth as it is, because they take sin for granted and pretend to take it along with them, and intend to carry on believing it is something acceptable to God too because it is lovely to them, by not becoming willing to deny all sins forever. They might deny some and exceed in denying so they may keep some other pet sin with them in the face of God. They hold on to sin because they just love it and pretend to believe God accepts it because they simply love it. Because they love it, they believe it is good and acceptable. After all,  they start to believe a loving God would not hurt them. But the greatest hurt is  to not experience that Love, ever.

At the same time, I try real hard to convince and tell people that whatever they believe about God might become real and a working issue as long as they play the game of Life by the rules of the Living, real God. There is no greater struggle in this world than to make and turn truth to become real and a reality. Before it is reality, it cannot be denied as truth at all and as it is, it cannot be taken and assimilated as truthful either. There is a walk with God that will settle promises to become real in God’s own good time, and timing, and way. It is not only the timing that is at stake, but the way too. Maybe the time is gone past because the way to it is not reached at all. Sometimes it is the time for God to do things, but not the way it is done in heaven. Let’s become real then, since truth in Biblical terms means reality which is truthful, even if there is reality which is never truthful and heavenly too. Dare to become real and to be made real for God’s sake alone. Be honest and honestly devoted to God according to His way, if you ever find it. That will do. Amen.

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José Mateus