Sin is never private (Joshua 7)

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Emotions must have been running high, God’s people had obeyed God even though His battle strategy was weird, and God had caused them to overcome at Jericho, the first victory won.  God had given clear instructions on what to destroy and what could be kept and for what purpose.  Israel’s armies obeyed, except for one man!

In chapter 7 we read how God’s people, buoyed with courage launch themselves at the next challenge as they begin to take possession of the land God gave them.  But surprisingly to them they get routed, sustain losses and are defeated.

Joshua and the elders are shocked!  This wasn’t in their script, they had been on the up, and now this shocking set-back.  What are you up to God?

In this moment of shock and defeat Joshua comes to some wrong conclusions.  We are so prone to this aren’t we!

We look at events before us, what has an hasn’t happened and we draw conclusions with our own limited thinking, conclusions which often are severely lacking in discernment and humility.  We who are finite, limited, who know so little call the omniscient into question.

This is what happened to Joshua.  Joshua lays the blame for the events at Ai at God’s feet, as he in prayer questions God (Joshua 7:7) about why He brought them into this land (a complaint so reminiscent of the complaint his ancestors had made against God in Exodus 16 – 40yrs earlier).

More than this Joshua in his shock tells God how to run the world!  Joshua tells God how what has happened at Ai with this defeat is not good for their public relations with the surrounding nations who will hear of this defeat and will come and defeat Israel (Joshua 7:8-9).

Have you fallen into this trap?

Questioning God, putting God on trial for things you don’t understand?

And yet, Proverbs 9:10 says that wisdom begins with an attitude not with knowledge.  A right reverent fear of God leads one to wisdom and keeps one from folly.

So why did Israel get defeated by such a relatively small army at Ai when they had just had such a great victory at Jericho?

Scripture is abundantly clear, the reason was that there was sin (disobedience) in the camp and this sin angered God (Joshua 7:1).

Oops, in 2017, we don’t like this language being used of God!

When Scripture rubs you up the wrong way, ask yourself why?

Is it not conforming to your little personal perspectives and preferences?

Are you placing yourself as an authority over Scripture judging Scripture?
God is not about to leave Joshua in the dark regarding the source of this defeat.  “Get up!”, God tells Joshua twice – there is sin in the camp, that is why you were defeated, not some malfunction in Me.

More than this, God warns Joshua that He will not tolerate this sin continuing but will remove His presence from them unless something is done quickly (Joshua 7:10-13).

The rest of the chapter deals with how Achan’s sin is revealed, confessed and punished and so the Lord ‘turned from His burning anger’ (Joshua 7:26).

What can we learn from this account?

Sin is never just private.

It is personal, never less than that but it is also more than private.  Our over individualised and ‘self-obsessed’ era of human history battles a little with this concept but Achan’s sin caused the death of 36 other men, husbands, sons, brothers, uncles…  Caused the whole nation to be in a precarious situation.

This is still true today, no sin is ever just private.  Sin has ramifications on others.

Unbelief in a husband or father impacts the whole house and marriage, pornography not only soils the mind of the user, but impacts their view of every female in their lives & perpetuates and pays for the bondage of those being used to create the content…  I could go on and on.

Achan’s sin affected God’s people, took away blessing even.  In our church there have been times remarkably similar to this account when God spoke to us as elders of sin in our church camp that we needed to deal with.

Friend, brother or sister.  We are called to be a Holy people (1 Peter 1:15)!  We are called to love Jesus by obeying His commands (John 14:21).  Let’s take this seriously, let’s see the corporate impact our sin has on others, on the wider church.

And let’s thank Jesus that when we have sinned we have a Saviour, our Mediator, the One who sacrificed Himself in our place for our sin, was punished by God so that we could be forgiven.

“He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus did all this so that we can be forgiven, so that the wrath of God against sin could be taken away from us and from His people.  Thank you Jesus!

So, if there is sin in your life – repent, ask Jesus to forgive you!

And if there is sin in the camp you know about, go to your brother/sister and urge them to repent.

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