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Seven things we can learn from Achan, the Rebel.
Joshua 7 is a solemn chapter of Scripture. The people of God are unable to conquer the 12,000-strong town of Ai due to the sin of one sole Israelite.
Today, I want to share seven words of application with you all. But before doing so, please take a couple of minutes to read through the whole chapter (it only has 26 verses).
7 APPLICATIONS FROM JOSHUA 7
1.- Pray for the Big Things and the Small Things
It is shocking that Joshua only starts praying in verse 6. Why did he not pray before sending his men to Ai in verse 2? Maybe he reasoned that there was no need to consult the Lord as they had just conquered the powerful city of Jericho. After all, what is Ai compared to Jericho?
We should remember that if God is for us, Jericho is teeny. But if God is against us, Ai is huge. It is not the size of the city that counts, but the presence of the Lord alongside us.
2.- Do Not Hide Your Sin
God wants His soldiers to walk in holiness and purity. If there is a Babylonian cloak in your life, the Lord calls upon you to get rid of it. Do not take sin lightly.
As John Owen mused, kill sin before it kills you. Have no mercy whatsoever upon disobedience in your own heart. Identify it and boot it out.
3.- Do Not Bypass the Sins of Others
As a family in the Lord and as members of Christ’s church, we have a solemn duty to look out for each other’s spiritual wellbeing. God expects us to defend the sanctification of His beloved flock.
Biblical love is sober and vigilant (1 Peter 4:7-8). It does not laugh sin off. It abhors unrighteousness.
Achan’s family members should have confronted him about the cloak. No doubt such a altercation would have caused much tension within the household, but God’s Word is more important than sinful peace.
If there is a conflict between the will of God and the will of one of our loved ones, God’s decree must prevail. The person who loves father or mother or son or daughter more than Christ is not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37).
4.- Do Not Settle Down
Joshua and his army had just taken Jericho. They could have reasoned within themselves, “Well, it does not really matter if we cannot conquer Ai. At least we got Jericho. We can set up a mega-church here and forget about the rest of the Promised Land”.
But Joshua, God’s general, was passionate about the extension of the kingdom of God and the fulfilment of the promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
If God has promised to give us the whole Promised Land, we must not become lackadaisical and lukewarm. Both Jericho and Ai are to be taken; not just Jericho.
Our local church may be vibrant and thriving; but there are still plenty of places that need to be reached for the Gospel.
5.- Your Individual Actions Affect the Whole Church
Joshua 7 is a tough passage for Westerners because we are so individualistic in our mode of thinking. But when we are born again by the power of the Spirit, we immediately begin to form part of Christ’s precious church.
We start to think in a congregational manner and no longer in an individualistic way.
When we spurt out phrases like, “Who are you to tell me how I should live?” or “What’s it to you?”, we are denying the communitarian philosophy of the New Testament. We are all interdependent in the great web of Gospel love.
If you are flirting about with sin in your personal life, your actions are not only affecting your own spiritual welfare but the sanctification of your local congregation.
Your individual sins can be putting a halt to a great blessing that God has prepared for His people.
Remember that you are not an island; you belong to something much bigger than yourself.
6.- Judgment Always Comes in the End
Who knows how long Achan had the cloak hidden under his tent before the Lord pointed him out? Maybe he kept up appearances, worshipping the God of Israel in the public assemblies, greeting his fellow Jews with a great smile upon his face and supposedly fulfilling all of the external demands of the Law.
All the while, however, he had the cloak hidden under his tent.
It is so easy to deceive our brothers and sisters in the Lord. At the end of the day, they are not omniscient. But we cannot deceive God. Achan’s sin, in the ultimate analysis, was a strict denial of the omnipresence of God.
He forgot that although no one saw anything that God had observed it all. God’s eyes were on the cloak 24/7!
God, however, did not punish Achan immediately. In His patience, He gave Achan time to repent of his wicked deed. But Achan, rather than turning from his sin, kept the cloak under cover thus revealing that he loved his iniquity more than the holy demands of God.
The Lord is gracious and patient, but His day of judgment draws near.
7.- Thank God for Jesus Christ
Praise be to God for sending His Son in the power of the Spirit. Thanks to Jesus Christ we can confess our sins and be mercifully forgiven by God the Father.
The blessed Son of God was “stoned” and “burnt” in our place upon the cross, taking all the punishment our sins deserved upon His precious self.
The righteous one gave His life for the unjust. In Jesus, we are saved from the wrath to come. In Christ, God’s anger is past tense. Glory and praise to God for the Gospel of the Lord Christ.