"And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou upon thy face? Israel hath sinned…So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes…And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? The Lord shall trouble thee this day" (Jos. 7:10-11, 16, 25).
There is at the present time an awareness of breakdown, ruin, and failure - in particular the failure of each individual and their corresponding participation in the ruin and breakdown - and the need for repentance. It is necessary, however, to own that repentance is not only sorrow for sin, or an owning of sin, but putting it away and abandoning it. Exodus 12 describes the individual rejecting leaven: "ye shall eat unleavened bread" (v.15); families rejecting leaven: "put away leaven out of your houses" (v.15); and a company of God’s people rejecting leaven: "in all your dwellings shall ye eat unleavened bread" (v.20). We should all be familiar with leaven as a type of evil, but are we prepared to do without it - to reject it in every sphere and to "cut off whoever eateth leavened bread" (v.15)?
Brethren, although the Lord has allowed the problems, resulting in breakdown and ruin, He did not introduce them; and until known difficulties are dealt with there cannot be true repentance. There may be much godly sorrow, but action is required if a true turning away is to be effected. There can be earnest humiliation, confession, and repentance as individuals and in homes, but is there a willingness to stand for the truth and to walk in the truth in the local assemblies?
Herein is the kernel of most difficulties: an unwillingness to offend friends, an unwillingness to offend relatives, an unwillingness to offend our brethren, but quite ready to offend the Lord. The holiness of God’s house is to be maintained - by each believer - and if they do not then the candle will be removed (Rev. 2:5), and, to use an illustration from Solomon’s words, "this house which is high, shall be an astonishment to everyone that passes by it; so that he shall say, Why has Jehovah done thus to this land and to this house? And they shall say, Because they forsook Jehovah the God of their fathers… Therefore he has brought upon them all this evil" (2 Ch. 7:21-22).
A good illustration of repentance is found in Luke 15: the son recognized his failure and condition, and confessed it in his heart; then he abandoned the swine, filth and far country, and came to his father and confessed - he came to submit to the authority of his father and be subject to rule in his fathers house. He was already clean when he got to his father’s presence - because his father called for the best robe, the ring and the sandals to put on him - then came the rejoicing.