By Randy Harmon
Pastor, Rock Springs Baptist Church, Greenbrier
Focal Passage: Joshua 7:13-15, 19-21, 25-26; 8:1
I remember those days playing high school football when occasionally the whole team was required to run extra laps because of the infraction of one player. At the time this didn’t always seem “fair.” However, at this stage of life I understand the team mentality our coaches were trying to instill in us. Our actions as individuals do affect others. Especially when it comes to Kingdom living. This event in the life of God’s people is a stark reminder of our corporate responsibility. It also teaches us that failure needn’t stall us toward our purpose. Through God’s grace and mercy we can deal with failure and keep moving forward.
Personal purity and its far reaching effects, vv. 13-15. Joshua 7 tells the story of the conflict with Ai and the defeat of Israel in battle. The sin of one man, Achan, had led to defeat. God had given specific instructions about the spoils of war, and Achan had disobeyed. His lack of obedience led to suffering for all the people of Israel and threatened their future success against their enemies. We sometimes forget that as the people of God, connected through His church for service and ministry, our personal sin can impact many others around us.
Confession, v. 19-21. Can you imagine how Achan must have felt as this process of implication took place? As the lots were drawn, and the mantle of guilt drew closer to him he may have felt increasing pressure and stress. It is always interesting to me when I read this story to wonder if things might have been different if Achan had confessed without all this lot casting.
Might Achan’s punishment have been less severe? He may have felt no remorse, but merely was sorry he got caught. At any rate, this story reminds us that God is serious about sin because it separates us from proper relationship with Him. Thankfully, we have the promise that if we confess our sins as Christians, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)
This is going to hurt, vv. 25-26. In our culture of tolerance and nonjudgmentalism, this reaction to Achan seems harsh. Still, God used this event to help His people understand His expectation. He also displays His grace and mercy. He could have destroyed the whole nation because of this sin. Instead, He leads them to deal with the sin in their midst so that He can move them forward in His plan of conquering the Land of Promise. This is a painful, but a sometimes necessary lesson.
Next (moving forward), 8:1. After dealing with this failure, God is willing and ready to lead His people to victory in the next battle. He is not finished with His people. We do not earn another chance by our own merit, nor should we take for granted that God usually gives His servants second chances. (How many chances did Achan have?) God is patient with us as we are learning to be faithful and obedient to Him.
Have you failed the Lord? Do you feel as if He may be unable to use you or even save you because of your sin and failure?
Do you feel God does not hear your prayers?
Don’t give up so easily. He has not given up on you. The road to restoration may not be easy. It will require submission to Him as He changes your nature and desires. If you will draw near to God, He will draw near to you and lead you to a place of renewal with Him.
— Harmon is pastor of Rock Springs Baptist Church, Greenbrier.