One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Saturday, April 13, 2013: Joshua 7:16-9:2
"When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.” Joshua 7:21 (NKJV)
Sometimes our greatest victories are followed closely by our greatest defeats. Life can be a succession of up's and down's like a roller coaster. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are too often close cousins. One minute we feel invincible -- destined to dominate. The next minute we are embarrassed, defeated, and depressed.
That's the story of Israel as they won at Jericho and lost at Ai. In two chapters (Joshua 6 and 7), they run the gamut of the right way and the wrong way to take the land. At Jericho, they are precise, organized, and efficient (Josh. 6:3-5). At Ai, they are overconfident, disorganized, and defeated (Josh. 6:2-4).
But, really there is another story that overshadows this roller coaster ride. It is the story of a man named Achan. The sin of this one man Achan was spawned in the conquest of Jericho. His sin was the unseen cause of the defeat at Ai. It is sobering to realize how the secret sin of one person can affect the outward success of an entire people.
Israel had been commanded to bring all the booty of Jericho into the treasury of the Lord (Josh. 6:18-19). Achan sinned by taking a small portion for himself (Josh. 7:1). This small amount brought the judgment of God. Joshua, by insight of the Holy Spirit, declared to Israel, "There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand against your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you" (Josh. 7:13). UNREPENTED SIN CAUSES OUR DEFEAT.
Why do people such as Achan do such stupid, self-destructive things? Why do WE become our own worst enemies? In the final moment, when Achan finally came clean, Joshua asked him what he had done and why he had done it. Achan's answer is simple but profound. It is summed up in four words that said "I ....."
1. I SAW
2. I DESIRED
3. I TOOK
4. I HID
That's what happens to us all. That's why we self-destruct. James 1:14-15 restates this, "But, each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." We SEE that which excites our DESIRE. We refuse to wait for God's right time, so we TAKE that which is not ours. Then we HIDE. We can spend a lifetime hiding! It is a life of defeat. It is a life full of death.
But, God in His mercy brings us to the light. He never turns on the lights to HURT but to HEAL!
Once, Israel had gotten right with God, the victory returned. The progress resumed. They went on to conquer the land. But, in their wake was a memorial -- a mound of stones raised up over the grave of Achan. It was not the memorial of a hero. It was a memorial that served as a warning. God is not just interested in outward victories. He is always intersted in the WAY the victory is won.