A lesson from the ashes

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This was a homework assignment based on Joshua 7:16-26.

When you first look at this passage in Joshua, it certainly stops you in your tracks. Really? God killed a household over a few stolen items? I know that stealing is wrong, but to kill an entire
family…?
You have to look back a few verses to start to see the behind-the-scenes-perspective here. In Joshua 6:17-19, Joshua tells Israel that all the plunder of Jericho is banned, they are not allowed to keep any of it, and any gold, silver, iron or bronze articles are to be collected for the Lord. So we see that Achan didn’t steal in the literal sense (the whole city of Jericho was technically theirs after the walls fell), but he disobeyed a direct command of God. Not a good idea.

But Achan’s choice reveals that there was more going on inside him than simple obedience. By taking those forbidden items, Achan revealed the pride in his heart. He believed that he deserved more than his fellow Israelites, so he took for himself. And what did he take? “A beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound” (Josh 7:21, NLT). He took a robe to make him look better, to esteem himself among his friends and family, and he took precious metals, which God had already claimed as his. Achan believed that he deserved what was rightfully God’s, and that he could get away with it. And he was sadly mistaken.

Besides pride, mistrust or lack of faith was also evident in Achan’s actions. He didn’t believe that God would provide for him and his family in the Promised Land they were invading, so he took matters into his own hands (quite literally). He needed to steal. And we all know that sin committed for the right reasons is excused, right? Obviously not. God never calls us to something that requires us to sin; that just wouldn’t make any sense. God wanted Israel to occupy the land he had for them, and, so long as they obeyed Him, He was going to provide for them as they did. Achan believed that what he saw right in front of him was better than what God had promised. The Biblical definition of faith is “Seeing things the way God says they are, not how I see them”, and his act was the direct opposite of faith.

Achan didn’t believe that God was who He says He is. By taking those forbidden items, Achan echoes the same thoughts as Adam and Eve in Genesis “God won’t see it. Besides, it’s just a few things (just one bite). What can it hurt? It’s not like God is here. What He doesn’t know won’t hurt Him, right?” Wrong.

And finally, Achan’s sin showed his inward discontentment. He didn’t believe that what God had already provided for him was enough. He refused to rest in the knowledge that what God was going to give him in the Promised Land was best. He wanted, coveted, what he saw. So he took it.

The root of all these wrong heart-positions is a faulty worldview, one based on worldly ideas instead of the Bible. Achan fell for the appealing philosophy that currently reigns in America: Instant gratification is always better than delayed gratification. The robe, silver and gold I can get my hands on now is better than anything God would give me for obeying Him later. So much better, in fact, that I’m willing to risk everything for it. And don’t we do the same things, in our own ways? Entertaining lustful thoughts is much more satisfying than waiting in purity for the one spouse God has for me, and reveling with him/her it he pure gift God has given.

Or what about the idea, “I’m just one person. God doesn’t care.” Every heard, or thought, that? It’s an easy trap to fall into. Just look at the facts, there are 6.97 Billion people in this world. Why would God care about what I do? Nevertheless, He does. He has a specific call for each person in relationship with Him, and He calls us each individually to live holy lives. That’s why the Holy Spirit convicts us of certain things that He doesn’t for others. Why would watching a certain movie, or saying certain things, be sin to one person and not another? Because God cares about what we do, individually. The fact of the matter is, we are so important to God that He died for us. “Do you not know… that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Ok, so we get that Achan had more going against him than just a few items hidden in the tent, but why did “his songs, hid daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him” have to be utterly destroyed? The passage says that he and all with him were stoned, and then burned up. Picture absolutely nothing left. Achan was the one who sinned, so he alone should be punished, right? The trouble with this claim is the idea that each person is solely responsible for
themselves, when God says throughout Scripture that a man is responsible not only for himself, but for his entire household. And we’ve seen this in our own lives, haven’t we? A father’s sin affects his own family, and sometimes the entire neighborhood or church. “With great power, comes great responsibility”. God gives the man of the house, the husband/father, the power to lead his family, but He also bestows on him the responsibility of that calling.

Yet there is hope in this sad tale of utter destruction. Look at Joshua 22:20. Battles, victories, moving vans, and many house-warming parties later, Israel still remembered the sin of Achan and
clan. God used one man’s sin to impact an entire nation, and to remind them (however briefly) that He indeed is God and demands worship and obedience.

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About Jessi Journeyer

I'm a young woman who's been blessed with enough experiences to know that if you don't record what God is teaching and doing in you while it's happening, you're likely to forget His work and therefore miss some of the possible benefits. Initially started as my attempt to sort out the lessons God gave me in Bible School, this online-journal has grown into an ongoing chronicle of God's work and voice in my life, an attempt to sort-out the great soup of thoughts, questions and ponderings that are stirring in my heart and mind. For my benefit and, maybe, for yours.

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