There is a folly in the hearts of men: that they never satisfied. They want more! Actually, a hymnal encourages believers to be faithful in order to receive more blessings. We love it; certainly, I love it, too. However, this has had negative results in what the Lord expects of us as His children. So far, we have seen from our study that material things are not God’s concern but He desires that the Israelites would have faith in Him. He is to be the object of worship and not things. As we look at the seventh chapter of the book of Joshua, I would remind us of the promise that the Israelites gave Joshua in chapter 1:18.
The charge that God had against the unfaithfulness of Achan was not leveled to him but to the whole of Israel. God was angry at Israel for not keeping the faith to observe the Lord’s command as far as the devoted things were concerned. His sin was not individualized but communal. How strange! We would have thought that this was unfair but when we consider the covenant that God had in regards to the Promised Land, it wasn’t for an individual but for Israel nation as a whole. The Lord looked at them as one entity not as individuals who formed a whole.
This makes us consider how our individual actions affect the entire body of Christ. The loss that they endured in Ai was because of the sin that committed by one who represented the whole! Many died and the disgrace that followed was unfathomed. How can a small group called Amalakites beat the children of Yahweh? A people of God who sent shivers among the inhabitants of the lands that they traversed. The loss was great and it put doubt in the ability of God to keep his children safe. Joshua exclaims in verse 9 that, “The Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of this, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the land. What will you do, for your great name?” The act of keeping the devoted things for himself qualified Achan to be “a thing devoted for destruction”! The stakes were high.
Being members of the Christian faith does not negate the fact that we are responsible to each other and for the actions that we take/make as believers. It is easier to blame Achan and forget that we are all in this together. They needed Achan to be with them in their conquest. Actually, we are not told but the fact that he was able to keep some things for himself meant that he was strategically placed in the invasion so much so that he was able to lay his hands on the things devoted to God. He was of the tribe of Judah! Our positions in the church of Christ should not make us think that we are above some certain entities laid by God, not the denomination. We are part of the whole and this should remind us of the expectation that God has of us. It is easy to keep things for ourselves or to create systems that favor our affiliation to sin and think that as long as there are people praying, were ok. NO!
There is so much at stake. There are those who are watching form within to learn from us on how to be faithful to God in our service in the body of Christ. Secondly, there those who are not of the faith who have an idea that we serve a great God but they don’t understand why we are not faithful to Him in our daily chores. The latter was the concern of Joshua as a leader. What are we doing to the character of God as believers when we self-indulge with the things of God? Do our actions witness to the greatness of God or do they show contempt to what we believe? This has far-reaching consequences. The scriptures describe the Israelites as a thing devoted for destruction. Moreover, it didn’t take long to appreciate this.
Joshua sought the Lord before he attempted to solve the situation. He cried before the Lord and the Lord gave him instructions on what to do. Oh how I pray we would do the same and not just mumble some words before attempting to look at an issue and convince ourselves that we prayed. God help me. He kept his focus on the Lord and looked at the issue from God’s point of view. Moreover, Joshua said to Achan, “My son, please, give glory to Yahweh the God of Israel, and give him a doxology in court. Tell me, please, what you have done; do not hide it from me.” (Vs 19) He required of Achan to confess but his aim was not to glory in it but for the fear of God. God was at the center of this whole process and not Joshua. Many times as men of the cloth, we would want to be looked at as very powerful or dangerous just because we are “men of God”. We forget that it has nothing to do with us but everything to do with God. This explains why we would even scare people into obedience so that our wrath doesn’t befall them. God forbid! What a shame. Our proclivity of vain glory makes us a thing devoted for destruction. Oh, Lord have mercy.
The children of Israel spoke plainly, when it came to obeying the commands of Joshua from the Lord. Just as they promised in the first chapter so did they keep their promise by annexation of Achan. Whether it was of fear or true devotion, we may not tell but we know they kept their word. Achan’s name “was cut off” completely. This included his cattle and entire family. They bore the name of Achan. His memory was wiped off completely just in case the seed would be found among them and the sin is remembered. Now this may be hard today, but the principle still remains.
How far can we go to deal with our inclination to sin? Can we really take time and deal with our sinful nature instead of reflecting it on others? It would have been easy for the children of Israel to point a figure towards Achan but the sin would have reoccurred again unless they dealt with it categorically. When we chose to turn from our evil ways, the Lord choses to walk with us.
May God help me to look within lest I become a thing devoted for destruction.