ALL OF GOD, ALL THE TIME
Joshua Chapter 7
Imagine yourself leaving a grocery store, and on the way to your car, you find a $5 bill laying in the parking lot. What’s your reaction? What do you do? Would your reaction be any different if you found $500 or $5,000 instead? Would your response be different if the money you found had the name of the owner on it?
Joshua chapter 7 is primarily known for what it teaches about a man named Achan, and what he did when he stumbled across some very valuable possessions. In this chapter we’ll also learn about how Achan’s decision, affected Joshua and the Israelites as a whole. But, in my opinion, I think what we learn most from Joshua 7 involves the attributes of God.
God’s attributes are essential. He has to have all these characteristics all the time; otherwise, He would not be God. Truth be told, even in the Christian community there isn’t complete agreement on what this list entails because you won’t find them all named and bundled up in any specific scripture. While I don’t want to get bogged down in controversy as to what things are truly attributes vs works, some characteristics of God will be most evident in Joshua 7. The list of God’s attributes that seems to have the most scriptural merit in my eyes (also found on the Relational Concepts website) includes: Omnipresent (everywhere), Omnipotent (all-powerful), Omniscient (all-knowing), Just (He is always right in His treatment of good and evil), Eternal (no beginning/end), Sovereign (Supreme ruler – nothing can ever thwart His purposes), Unity (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have one mind, heart, and will), Infinity (free from containment and without limitation), Truth (speaks and acts in a manner consistent within the actual nature of His existence), Holiness (totally separate from all evil), Immutable (unchanging in character), Love (He acts according to what is in the best good of others). Each of these attributes are just as important as the next. All of them are in play all the time, they are congruent. However, it is hard for us to live according to that reality, and even comprehend how this can be.
The reasons for difficulty understanding and acknowledging all God’s attributes are three-fold. First, humans were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). This means we weren’t created exactly like Him, but instead, with some similarities. Just like an image in a mirror reveals some characteristics of the actual person, but not all of them. Some attributes of God we lack entirely, others we possess, but only in part. Second, within the context of His attributes He also granted us free will. Therefore, we make choices as to which of His attributes we want to submit to. Third, we are fallen, sinful beings. So, even though we have weak versions of some of his attributes, what we have doesn’t even qualify us to have a relationship with Him. As a result, our natural tendency (sometimes intended, sometimes out of weakness), is to form an image of God based upon our current circumstances, or one that meets the criteria for what we prefer, understand, or believe in.
The difficulty we have in keeping all God’s attributes in focus all the time can be illustrated with my twenty-five year, old camcorder. I can still remember the first time I tried using it to film whitetail deer while hunting up in a tree in a dense forest. It was practically impossible to find the deer in my lens finder and keep it in focus for more than a split second. I could see bits and pieces of various leaves, branches, and tree trunks much better than I could see the deer. Only later did I learn that the camcorder was using an auto-focus setting, so every time I moved the camera the slightest bit, it would attempt to focus on the first thing that came into its view.
Joshua chapter 7 is going to teach us that when we have an inaccurate perception of God, and focus on certain attributes over others, unwanted consequences will result. The chapter begins just after the conquest of Jericho. As we consider what we’ve learned thus far in Joshua, the key takeaway as we move into chapter 7, is that there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that God’s sovereignty and omnipotence were the overwhelming, obvious reasons for their victory over Jericho. Let’s see if their confidence in these attributes of God going to cancel out the need to submit to his other attributes.
Right on the heels of this miraculous victory over Jericho is a great failure. Verse 1 is a little out of norm in that it provides a brief overview or introduction to what is about to be described in more detail in the rest of the chapter. The phrase, ‘The Israelites’ looks like it is a plural usage here, but we immediately learn that the culprit is actually one man named Achan. Usage of the phrase, ‘the Israelites’ here is similar to speeches that Moses made before the younger generation of Israel, where, even though he was referring to the collective behavior of their parent’s generation, he used the word, “you”. God’s relationship with Israel had the characteristics of a relationship with an individual. So, on an individual basis, our beliefs and actions in one small area of our life, can greatly impact the whole of our life. However, within the context of a group, the behavior of one person, one family, or even a minority, can greatly impact a larger number of people around them.
*Side note - Notice that Achan’s grandfather was Zimri. Perhaps this name sounds familiar because you remember an Israelite man, named Zimri, who was killed, some years prior, along with a Midianite woman, due to sinful behavior (Numbers 25:14). So maybe you are assuming that it is no surprise his grandson would follow in his footsteps. However, Zimri in Numbers 25, was the son of Salu, the leader of a family from the tribe of Simeon. In this story in Joshua 7, Achan, is the son of Zimri from the tribe of Judah.
What were these “devoted things” that Achan was unfaithful about? Why was it such a big deal? (https://www.alittleperspective.com/joshua-7-and-8/
The word devoted can have a positive or a negative meaning (as can all Hebrew words). In the following scripture it has a positive meaning. (Leviticus 27:28) - Nevertheless no devoted offering that a man may devote to the LORD of all that he has, both man and beast, or the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted offering is most holy to the LORD. In this case the devoted thing is an offering (or anything) which a man dedicates (or “gives”) to the LORD. It is from that day devoted or holy (set apart) to the LORD. That thing belongs to the LORD God now and shall be treated as such.
In the following scripture, devoted, has a negative meaning. (Deuteronomy 13:17) - So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers. Idols or possessions of a town which has turned from the LORD and served idols, shall be gathered in the center of the city and burned entirely, because those things have become devoted to the LORD for destruction. These things are also set apart to the LORD just like the offering is, however since it is an accursed thing, it is set apart to the LORD for destruction. It also cannot be possessed by man because it is devoted.
Let’s go back and read about warnings to the Israelites under Joshua’s command in regards to “devoted things”. First, see Joshua 1:7-8, 16-18, where we read about the commitment that the Israelite people make when it comes to obeying God. Joshua said, 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”
Now, let’s look specifically at what Joshua had told the people, before the battle of Jericho, in Joshua 6:17-19, 24 - 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted[a] to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18 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. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”
So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.
This is a phrase that shows us that He is not unaffected by disobedience, justice is required because of it.
In Joshua 7:2, we begin to learn the details of what verse 1 introduced.
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.
Ai was a place in central Canaan located approximately two
miles east of Bethel (Joshua 7:2, 10:1). It is first mentioned in Genesis 12:8 as a
place where Abram camped during his journey toward the land God promised.
The Israelites probably had a “spy unit”. This reference to “spying” is the third time this tactic is mentioned as being used by the Israelites in their efforts to take the promised land. 1. Numbers 13, when Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan (10 came back with a bad report, only Joshua and Caleb wanted to obey God and go into promised land). 2. Joshua 2, where two (young) spies were sent from Shittim to spy out Jericho. Rahab had told these guys that people were in fear of them. 3. Joshua 7:2, spies are sent to Ai, but it doesn’t say how many were sent. However, based upon what we’ve learned about Jericho we can conclude that these spies were witnesses to what happened there with Lord on their side.
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;
In this verse, we observe that these spies are confident. Why might this be? We could make one guess the Ai didn’t have as good of a defense in place as what Jericho had. But the text doesn’t tell us that. Perhaps, their confidence was primarily due to the small number of people there. After all, the spies say that “only a few people live there”. But how many is that? Before we get to that answer, let’s do a little math and battle planning of our own.
According to Joshua 4:13, the number of fighting men of Israel who were involved in the battle of Jericho was 40,000 – the entire army. Some scholars make the argument that depending upon how word ELEPH is interpreted, they could have been referring to one military unit closer to 8,000 (https://www.israel-a-history-of.com/battle-of-jericho.html). But that fact that the spies in verse 3 respond, “not all the army will have to go” in to battle against Ai, seems to give further evidence that the number was indeed 40,000 in Jericho. So, based upon what the spies witnessed in these two cities, they are confident it would only take 3,000 of the 40,000 to win the battle in Ai.
Now, if you were a military leader, how much of a numerical advantage would you like to have in order to ensure victory and reduce causalities? Let’s assume a safe military advantage would be 5 to 1. If that were the case, and the spies are suggesting that 3,000 soldiers be sent to AI, then maybe we’d estimate there were about 600 enemy soldiers? However, if you jump head and read Joshua 8, you will see that the Israelites eventually kill 12,000 men and women”. So, this would argue that the “few” number of soldiers in Ai is more likely between 3,000 to 6,000. So, why then would the spies be so confident that they could win the battle of AI, even if they were potentially outnumbered 2 to 1 (3,000 men to battle against 6,000)? Their battle plan proves that this new generation of Israelites truly believed in God’s sovereignty and power. If God is for us, who can be against us?
4…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.
Wow, what a contrast to the battle of Jericho! Defeat instead of victory. Death and casualties instead of none. Confidence, melting into fear. The questions that immediately come to mind are likely the same ones the Israelites had…“What is happening? Why such fear? Why did they lose the battle?”
We know that the soldiers went into battle with strength and courage, trusting God. The fact that they ran away from a battle in which only 1% of their attacking force died makes no logical military sense. They weren’t chicken, or lacked a good strategy, something else is going on.
You might be thinking, “Maybe God was trying to teach them a lesson that they can’t only rely on Him. Maybe He wanted them to be a little more self-sufficient. You know, like, ‘God helps those who help themselves’.” Perhaps this theory is bolstered by the fact that we are only given 2 ½ verses of details about how they went about this battle (i.e. they sent spies, saw the size of the enemy, and then sent 3,000 men in to battle)? Maybe if the Israelites would have spent more time in prayer, consecration before battle, God would have rooted out the sin beforehand? Maybe if they would have prayed, “Search me and know me”, God would have warned Joshua about Achan’s sin before the battle? We shouldn’t assume any of these things to have been factors in the reason for the defeat, because God doesn’t include any of that in His explanation that we’ll read later.
Why did they melt in fear? It is interesting that this phrase is the same one that was used to describe how the enemy was feeling back in Joshua 2 because of what they were hearing about the God of the Israelites. Just like an ice cube melts when it no longer exists in an environment of 32 degrees or colder, a person melts in fear when that in which he trusted seems to have an apparent weakness.
Fear overtook the soldiers because soon after the battle began, they questioned one or more of God’s attributes, that up until that point, they had firmly believed in. “Is God really sovereign”, “Is God really as powerful as we thought, “How could a loving God allow this”? In fact, if those attributes of God can’t be trusted, then who wouldn’t have run away?! It makes perfect sense.
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?”
Something just happened that blew away the confidence that Joshua and the elders previously had. They were confused and shaken as to what was going on. However, in spite of their ignorance and doubt, their reaction was the appropriate one - get on their knees in desperation and pray. Prayer is a great way to help get things back in focus!
However, notice within Joshua’s prayer how similar his reasoning is to ours when things don’t go as we expected them. In his mind, he tried to read the tea leaves of circumstances, and determined the problem occurred because God told them to cross the Jordan river and go to battle with the Amorites. Joshua even says something similar to what the Israelites said when they had escaped Egypt – “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? ” Joshua is wondering how the Israelites could possibly lose a battle, if they were whole-heartedly following God and God was on their side? What could be wrong? What are you doing God? Are you trying to make us the laughingstock of the world?
Joshua wasn’t privy to all that was going on. He lacked omniscience, God did not.
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.
God revealed the answer to Joshua’s question. They didn’t lose because God didn’t love them, or because He wasn’t in control, or because He lacked power - they lost the battle because they disobeyed. They (Achan) had taken some of the devoted things from Jericho that God told them not to take. They broke a promise they had made earlier. What occurred in the battle of AI was exactly what God had warned the Israelites about in Leviticus 26:14-17 - 14If, however, you fail to obey Me and to carry out all these commandments, 15and if you reject My statutes, despise My ordinances, and neglect to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, 16then this is what I will do to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting disease, and fever that will destroy your sight and drain your life. You will sow your seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. 17And I will set My face against you, so that you will be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one pursues you.
While God’s sovereign, loving, and omnipotent attributes exist (always), so do His Holiness, Truth, and Justice – they cannot be ignored. The Israelites went into battle assuming victory, but were defeated instead. Spiritual warfare always involves some kind of destruction (verse 12). Spiritual soldiers either destroy evil, or evil will destroy them.
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.
The word consecration means “the separation of oneself from things that are unclean, especially anything that would contaminate one’s relationship with a perfect God.” Consecration also carries the connotation of sanctification, holiness, or purity. The importance of being consecrated or pure in our relationship with God was emphasized in Joshua 3:5 as they prepared to cross the Jordan River, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you’” (Joshua 3:5).
Now the Israelites are being told to consecrate themselves as they prepare for judgement. God tells Joshua to get the people ready…they are going to have a ‘come to Jesus’ moment during Old Testament times. Does this warning remind you of a time when a parent warned you to go to your room and get ready for a punishment that was about to come down? My wife Lisa has shared a story about a time when she recalled her father telling her and her sister to go out in the woods to find sticks and switches that he would then use on their behinds.
God is not going to allow this generation to get off track so quickly and lose out on the great blessings He has promised them. Due to the presence of sin (lack of holiness), He is forced to bring the hammer of justice down.
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!’”
First notice that God is the one to identify the guilty party. Determination of guilt won’t involve a human judge, lawyers, or jury. It won’t be a haphazard process left to chance. The process is going to identify the guilty party specifically. Lastly, the specific behavior will be identified as sinful, there is no sugar-coating it.
Regardless of who the guilty party is, whether they are sorry, whether anyone thinks the behavior wasn’t all that bad, whether some may lobby for forgiveness – God’s attributes require a different response. God’s holiness requires a specific kind of judgement for the sinful behavior. The judgement rendered for sin is death. That’s what was required of the covenant relationship that existed between God and the Israelites. More on this covenant relationship later.
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.
“Early the next morning…”, how well do you think Joshua slept the night before? How well do you think Achan slept? What about the entire nation of Israel, as they thought back to what they had committed to back in Joshua 1:16 – “Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”
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,[c] two hundred shekels[d] of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels,[e] I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
When I picture the way Achan responded when stumbled across these valuable possessions in Jericho, it reminds me of the bug named Harry at the beginning of the 1998 movie, “A Bug’s Life”. “No. Harry, no! Don’t look at the light!” “I can’t help it, it’s so beautiful!” ZAP! AGH! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTUQyEr-sg0). Just like the bug Harry, Achan was distracted by shiny things. Obviously, the material possessions literally had a shine. But he was also distracted in a figurative sense - he was so focused on the perceived benefits of the circumstances he encountered that it caused him to disregard certain attributes of God.
Achan lacked an appreciation of what holiness is, by disobeying God. He a hid the evidence, hoping to suppress the truth. He ignored God’s omniscience, assuming God wouldn’t know about his deeds. He discounted justice, thinking God would do nothing about it.
Now that he is being confronted with his sin, we cannot know what was going on in Achan’s mind. Perhaps he was hoping for forgiveness, that somehow God’s love would override all God’s other attributes. His response, wasn’t repentance (something done on one’s own accord), but it was an admission of guilt. He was being forced to admit and submit to all God’s attributes. That is how God is glorified, not merely through a worship song, but by action (John 17:4- Jesus glorified God the Father by accomplishing the work He had been given, 1 Corinthians 10:31-whatever we do, do for the glory of God).
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.
It is interesting to me that these men “ran to the tent” to find the things Achan had hidden. Perhaps there was a sense of urgency to get to the bottom of the matter before something else bad happened. Perhaps they wanted to make sure no one else had an opportunity to hide the evidence, or to steal the devoted things for themselves. Also notice that they “spread the things out before the Lord.” They were putting on display and admitting to the existence of the things that should have been reserved for God.
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.
Wow, it’s hard to imagine a judgment that is any more severe than that! This is one of the most ominous, gut-wrenching, graphic, and sad events in the Bible. What an awful sight that must have been! Non-Christians who read scripture like this can be quick to conclude that the God of the bible can’t really be God, because a loving God would never sanction such a thing. It should be of no surprise they have difficulty comprehending such a harsh response to sin, because in their world, the definition of love, truth, justice, good and evil, are always being adjusted to meet modern values. These things are all merely a means to an end.
However, even for believers, Joshua 7:24-25 is difficult to accept. Did God really have to destroy Achan’s entire family too? In order to make this more palatable, part of me wants to assume they were somehow complicit in the sin, and they got what they deserved as well. However, God called for the death of Achan’s cattle, donkeys and sheep who obviously weren’t involved in the scheme.
Several observations come to mind as I read these verses about the judgement that came down on these people.
· It was God doing the judging based upon His holiness and justice, the Israelites were not doing it out of vengeance.
· The justice being rendered here was within the context of the Old Testament covenant. This was a conditional or bilateral agreement between God and the Israelites. It involved physical blessing when they obeyed God and punishment when they did not. You won’t find this practice in the New Testament.
· There is no evidence that God took any pleasure in rendering the judgement. Nowhere in the Bible is there any indication God is ever happy about giving people what they deserve. In fact, 2 Peter 3:9 tells us the opposite.
· Sin (evil) does not exist in a vacuum. Even though an act may be done by one person, there are consequences that others will have to deal with because of it. Achan’s sin not only resulted in the death of family members who were likely innocent of the crime, but it also led to the deaths of the 36 soldiers when they attacked Ai. They didn’t steal the devoted things either, yet they lost their lives because of Achan’s sin. The book of Romans tells us that the sin of one man, Adam, affected the entire world.
· While we should be thankful for each day we have on this earth and seek to glorify Him every waking hour, the number of days a person is alive on this earth isn’t the be all, end all, most important thing of our existence (James 4:14). We were created by God for something more, and eternal. We should be more concerned with that, then merely whether we get to have one more breath on this earth.
· Sin always results in death. Can you think of another example in the Bible where it was necessary for someone totally innocent of the crime to die for sin (Jesus)?
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[f] ever since.
Achor means “trouble,” “affliction,” or “taboo” and implies a severe kind of trouble. The expression "valley of Achor" probably became proverbial for that which caused trouble.
After justice had been served, God was now able to turn from his fierce anger. Israel was again in position to walk in the power and guidance of God.
We need God’s attributes to exist (fully, perfectly) all the time to be able to move us toward that which we were created for. However, sometimes things happen that seem to contradict one or more of these attributes. Sometimes we are left with questions and feelings of unfairness.
Which of God’s attributes were most evident in Joshua 7 and how are we to live in light of them?
1. God is Sovereign – Trust it
God created us in a world with a lot of moving parts – circumstances will naturally occur – good, bad, and neutral. Even though He has granted us free will in how we live in this world, we need to acknowledge that God is in control.
(Isaiah 45:7-9) I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things. “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it.
We need to respond to circumstances in the appropriate way. This is a sinful world and God has given Satan a certain amount of authority/power in this world (John 16:11). Therefore, bad things will happen, possibly even getting caught in the wake of someone else’s sin. Thankfully, because God is sovereign, omnipotent, and loves us, He can still make something good out whatever you are going through. Endure, don’t lose faith.
(1 Peter 2:19-25) For if anyone endures the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God, this is to be commended. 21 - For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps. 22“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.”23When they heaped abuse on Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats, but entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. 24He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. “By His stripes you are healed.”i
Since we were created in the image of God, we naturally want to know the “reasons” things happen and what our “purpose” may be in them. No other living thing responds that way. Here are two don’ts and two do’s when it comes to responding to circumstances.
A. Don’t - complain. These things might be happening for your eternal benefit. (Isaiah 45:9)
B. Don’t - jump to conclusions. We are not omniscient or sovereign, and truth is hard to determine sometimes. So, don’t assign reasons to why things happen, especially shortly thereafter. Even when you’ve waited and think you know the reason, something could happen the very next hour, that can turn things on its head. We’d consider it foolish if someone were to assume if a black cat crossed in front of them, or if they break a mirror, they are going to have “bad luck”. Why do we follow a similar practice as Christians? The desire to walk with God more closely is admirable, but there are better ways to do it. (John 7:24, Proverbs 27:1, James 1:19)
C. Do - pray. It is okay to cry out to God in prayer of confusion when things happen that we don’t understand. (Philippians 4:6-7) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
D. Do - be content (Philippians 4:10-13). God is fully aware what is going on and cares for you (Matthew 10:29–31). Use all circumstances to drive you towards holiness and trusting God (Romans 8:28). Remember that the “good” that can occur from bad circumstances is God’s good not yours, and the good results might not be realized until you are in heaven.
2. God is Truth - Seek it
Instead of using circumstances, desires, thoughts, impressions, and callings to figure out what God is or isn’t doing, stick to the Truth found in the Bible. You will be held responsible for that.
(Hebrews 4:12-13) 12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
(2 Timothy 2:15) - Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
3. God is Holy - Prioritize it
Sin is the opposite of holiness. It drives a wedge between us and God. It also makes us look just like the world. Don’t take holiness for granted the way Achan did.
(2 Corinthians 6:17) - “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you”.
(Romans 12:1-2) “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”.
4. God is Just – Fear it
Sin, which compromises Holiness, requires God’s judgement. Thankfully, God has taken that justice out on Jesus.
(Romans 5:6-11) - You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Even though God has taken care of the ultimate form of justice for Christians (eternal death), don’t think you are off the hook. There are still negative ramifications for sin that we commit.
(2 Corinthians 5:10) - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Here are two consequences for sin in the life of a believer:
· God disciplines those He loves. (Hebrews 12:4-12) In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not take lightly the discipline of the Lord, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises every son He receives.”
· We will regret losing out on eternal rewards. (2 John 1:8) Watch yourselves, so that you do not lose what we have worked for,a but that you may be fully rewarded. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
5. God is Love – Cultivate it
As we’ve seen, a “loving God” cannot turn a blind eye to sin, pat us on the back, and say don’t worry about it. God is not “the man upstairs”, far-off, half-heartedly concerned with us, and oblivious to a strained relationship (Ephesians 4:30). When confronted with the fact we have violated God in some way, we need to repent, so that our relationship with God is restored.
(1 John 1:9) 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(James 4:7-10) 7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter to mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Interestingly, the Valley of Achor, the location where justice was rendered in such an awful and graphic way, is also called “a door of hope” to the future restored nation. (Hosea 2:15) “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt”. When communion with the Lord is restored, there is hope for the future. The troubles of the past are reversed and replaced with blessings. (Isaiah 65:10) “Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me”.
In Joshua chapter 8, we’ll see the restoration that occurs after repentance.
ALL OF GOD, ALL THE TIME
Joshua Chapter 7
God’s attributes are e___________. He has to have all these characteristics a_____ the time.
However, it is hard for us to live according to that reality, and even comprehend how this can be.
Joshua chapter 7 is going to teach us that when we have an inaccurate perception of God, and focus on certain attributes over others, unwanted c________________ will result.
· Was the problem because of Achan or the Israelites?
· What was the problem?
· Does God have a “ho hum” attitude about sin?
· What tactic did the Israelites use that preceded other battles?
· What did these men know, what had they witnessed beforehand?
· What outlook did the spies have after returning?
· What were they so confident in?
· What percentage of casualties was considered a “rout”?
· Why did they melt in fear (what attributes of God did they question)?
· What was the response to the defeat?
· What did Joshua mistakenly assume?
· What attributes of God did Joshua lack?
· What attributes of God had the Israelites ignored before and after the battle?
· Spiritual warfare always involves d_________________.
· C_____________ involves the separation of oneself from things that are unclean, especially anything that would contaminate one’s relationship with a perfect God.
· Due to the presence of sin (lack of holiness), God will be forced to bring the hammer of j_________ down.
· G______ is the one to identify the guilty party. Identification of sin will not be left to c__________.
· This process is going to identify the guilty party s______________. The specific b__________ will be identified and l__________.
· The judgement required for sin is d_______________.
· How must have the Israelites felt?
· Which of God’s attributes had Achan ignored? H___________, T___________, O___________, J____________
· Achan was now being forced to s___________ to all of God’s attributes.
· God is glorified through our a___________ (John 17:4, 1 Corinthians 10:31)
· The people were publicly a______________ to the things that should have been reserved for God.
· It was G_____ doing the judging based upon His holiness and justice, the Israelites were not doing it out of v__________.
· The justice being rendered here was within the context of the O___ T__________ c___________.
· There is no evidence that God took any p___________ in rendering the judgement (2 Peter 3:9).
· Sin (evil) does not exist in a v________. Others are a______________ by it.
· Life in h_________ is more important than life on e________.
· Sin always results in d______.
· After justice is s________, God is able to turn from his fierce anger. Only then can our relationship be r_________.
6. God is Sovereign – T________ (Isaiah 45:7-9), (1 Peter 2:19-25)
· Don’t c_________. (Isaiah 45:9)
· Don’t jump to c_____________ (John 7:24, Proverbs 27:1, James 1:19)
· Do p______. (Philippians 4:6-7)
· Do be c________ (Philippians 4:10-13), (Matthew 10:29–31), (Romans 8:28).
7. God is Truth – S________ (Hebrews 4:12-13), (2 Timothy 2:15)
8. God is Holy – P__________ (2 Corinthians 6:17), (Romans 12:1-2)
9. God is Just – F_______ (Romans 5:6-11) (Hebrews 10:26-31) (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Two consequences for sin in the life of a believer:
· God d_______________ those He loves. (Hebrews 12:4-12)
· We will regret losing out on eternal r_______. (2 John 1:8) (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)
10. God is Love – C______________ (1 John 1:9) (James 4:7-10)