Scripture for Week of February 2-8

Joshua 7: 1-26 (NIV)

1 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.

2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.

3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.

6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.

14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. 15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’”

16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen.

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”
20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord.

24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”

Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

 

7 replies
  1. Joey Rodgers
    Joey Rodgers says:

    But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury. Joshua 6:18-19

    I have to wonder if Achan was asleep when God issued this order. Surely he didn’t just defy a direct command from God? Could it be he was outside the camp feeding the camels or that he arrived to the battle late because he over slept? Even still, did no one tell him what Joshua declared as a command of God or did he simply defy a direct declaration from God?

    There is something inside of me that wants to give Achan the benefit of the doubt, but clearly his decision to take those items devoted to God didn’t happen by accident or because he missed the memo – he deliberately defied the command of God. And the result of his actions had a terrific ripple effect throughout a nation.

    Now before we jump on Achan and smear his name for his actions, might we take a gander at our own actions and attitudes first? Truth is there is a little Achan in all of us. There is a small part of us that thinks the rules don’t apply to us. There is a tiny belief that we’re special and God will let us slip by because of His grace. There is that small part in us that just doesn’t quite believe that our disobedience to God’s Word is really that significant. There is a small part of us that thinks no one will notice the sin we are harboring and that it is not really that big a deal. We think what we are doing isn’t hurting anyone and that it is no big deal in our own lives. BUT IT IS A BIG DEAL. All sin is a big deal to a holy God who desires holiness for His people and intimacy with His people. Consider the words of the apostle Peter:

    Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy. 1 Peter 1:13-15

    I wonder what kinds of things each of us might be harboring in our lives today that are hurting ourselves and others. I wonder what things we have tapped as insignificant that are significantly impacting our relationship with God and others. As we discover in the story of Achan, God doesn’t miss anything. And in His jealousy for intimacy and holiness, He will not tolerate our rebellion but will work to uphold righteousness for our sake and for His glory.

    Take record today and consider your thoughts and actions. And should you have stumbled, then follow the prescription set forth in 1 John:

    If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9

    It matters.

  2. Rob Laliberte
    Rob Laliberte says:

    Achan’s end began long before he had ever laid eyes on the treasures he ultimately took for himself; the sin began in his unattended heart. Evidently, Achan had long-harbored materialism and greed in his heart so that when the opportunity revealed itself, Achan acted impulsively from the sinful desires he failed to acknowledge and confess.

    This is why David wrote, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” In essence, he prayed, “Lord, show me my ‘blind spots.'”

    We can’t wait until the moment of temptation comes. We must feed our hearts and on our minds on His Word so that we can see with the eyes of faith rather than the eyes of lust and desire that lie to us, leaving us empty with promises that only God can righteously fulfill in His own perfect timing. Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

  3. Kim Hamilton
    Kim Hamilton says:

    It is easy to look at Achan and think “how dumb must he be” but we are all only a justification and a compromise or two away from him. We see it all around us and at times in our own lives. We’re not intentional in our time with God and his word. We make a series of choices that bring us to a place where we have tuned out what God has said to us and move right along with something that seems right in our own minds at the moment. This happens because we’ve either moved so far from where God wants us to be or we’ve let our ears be clogged with the gunk of this world. Either way we can no longer really hear him. We justify and excuse one thing then another and suddenly we’re making a decision that we’d have never made if we would have only kept our mind and heart focused on God. We must be intentional in keeping our hearts aligned with God because it’s not the natural way things go.

    Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭15-17‬ NASB)

  4. Doug Barclay
    Doug Barclay says:

    We often think that our sins only affect us, but as in the case of Achan, our sins impact others as well. In this scenario, Achan’s sin affected the entire nation of Israel. A battle was lost, men died, and Achan and his family eventually paid the ultimate price with their lives. And all of this for a fancy robe, silver and gold – that was buried in the ground in his tent. It’s easy to point the finger at Achan and ask, “why”? But deep in the recesses of our own hearts we all have a tendency to want more. When we are not content with the Lord, our desires will overtake us. Our enemy, Satan, is constantly on the lookout to try and take us down and he knows where we are vulnerable. (1 Pet. 5:8 Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.)

    This passage reminds us that the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things (Mark 4:19) will choke out our relationship with God. Because sin is serious, we need to take sin seriously. The power of sin is stronger than we think. I’ve heard John Maxwell say “Sin takes us farther than we are willing to go, keeps us longer than we are willing to stay and costs us more than we are willing to pay.” How true. Sin looks so attractive and inviting up front, but we must consider the consequences. Here are two additional quotes pertaining to sin that remind me of its destructive nature.

    Sinning wouldn’t be so popular if its wages were paid immediately. Daily Walk devotional
    One reason sin flourishes is that it is treated like a cream puff instead of a rattlesnake. Billy Sunday

    The Israelites had to remove the sin and consecrate themselves before God would return and lead them forward. Lord, help me to see how I allow sin to creep into my life and interfere with my relationship with You. Thank you for the power of the Holy Spirit to deal with sin through confession and repentance to restore my relationship with You.

  5. Kiim
    Kiim says:

    This story also represents that God knows even if you can hide your sin from others and he is the ultimate judge. It doesn’t matter what others think – it only matters what God thinks. Romans 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
    It makes me wonder, did Achman’s family and friends know? Aren’t we suppose to help a brother entangled in sin? We usually just look the other way because it is easy.

  6. David Bearden
    David Bearden says:

    In my opinion, it’s interesting to contrast Joshua’s obedience in this chapter to King Saul in 1 Samuel 15—when God commands him to destroy the Amalekites—and the consequences that result from each of their decisions.

    When God confronts Joshua with the theft of the devoted things, he immediately reacts in obedience by seeking out and destroying that which causes all of Israel to fall under judgment. Ultimately, Joshua’s obedience reunites Israel under God thus leading to the destruction of Ai and the conquest and settlement of the Promised Land.

    In contrast, Saul not only breaks the Lord’s commandment by keeping some of the Amalekites’ plunder for himself—“What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” (1 Samuel 15:14)—he also tries to deceive Samuel, first, by blaming his men, and then by proclaiming his innocence:—“But I did obey the Lord” (1 Samuel 15:20). Ultimately, in contrast to Joshua, Saul’s disobedience separates him from God, thus usurping him and his family’s bloodline from the throne of Israel: “Because you have rejected the Lord, He has rejected you as king” (1 Samuel 15:23).

    To me, Joshua’s ability to hear God comes as a consequence of him seeking God and having the right relationship with Him; thus Joshua’s relationship leads to discernment, which leads to surrender and the Spirit living in him and guiding him. This, in contrast to Saul, who is utterly corrupted by the desires of the flesh, where the consequence of his decisions leads to destruction. Like Joshua, as Christians, we cannot expect to hear God’s voice unless we are seeking Him through His Word and through prayer daily—communing with Him—disconnecting with the flesh and connecting with the Spirit:

    “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8).

  7. Art Fulks
    Art Fulks says:

    I wonder how Veggie Tales would have portrayed this story? It sounds rather harsh…but actually consistent with God’s holiness and justice. We take truth and obedience so lightly…and brush off sin so easily without regard for the cost to us or others. And we so easily disregard the price already paid by Jesus on the Cross for our forgiveness.

    I find it interesting that Joshua does not immediately blame others, but searches within first. It is at that point that Joshua hears God speak. The other piece of this text that I found very interesting was that dealing with the sin of Achan was treated as an act of worship. He told Achan to honor God…and it was almost as if an offering was made with an altar of remembrance erected to signify the recognition of God’s consistent holiness.

    God is serious! And there is no ‘Island of Perpetual Tickling’.

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