Once upon a time a rat looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a rat trap. Retreating to the farmyard the rat proclaimed the warning; "There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!"
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Excuse me, Mr. Rat, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."
The rat turned to the pig and told him, "There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!"
"I am so very sorry Mr. Rat," sympathized the pig, "but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you are in my prayers."
The rat turned to the cow. She said, "Like wow, Mr. Rat. A rat trap. I am in grave danger. Duh?"
So the rat returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s rat trap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a rat trap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital.
She returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows that you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.
His wife’s sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer’s wife did not get well. She died, and so many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.
So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when there is a rat trap in the house, the whole farmyard is at risk.
This truth could not be more relevant than in our scripture for today. One household in Israel caused an entire battle to be lost - the Battle of Ai.
We could argue that just because some families are in trouble in our world today, it does not mean we should be alarmed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The disintegration of even one household affects us all!
The battle of Ai was supposed to be a pushover in comparison to the great battle that had just been won at Jericho. But now General Joshua is perplexed to determine what went wrong in a battle that should have gone into the history book as an overwhelming victory.
God revealed the problem to be a "household" problem.
In fact, many of the problems facing our world and the church today are "household" problems.
The word "household" appears 61 times in the authorized version of the Bible. Its a great biblical word because it covers everyone living in a particular house, not just the nuclear family.
This word covers not only two-parent families, but also single-parent families, blended families, multi-generational families, etc.
Consequently, what the Bible teaches us about "households" applies to every one of us.
Today we consider the household of Aachan and discover "How to Be Your Own Worst Enemy At Home".
The insights the scriptures give us are truly amazing.
First of all, you will become your own worst enemy at home if you neglect your spiritual responsibilities.
The issue with Aachan’s sin centers around "the accursed things".
Joshua 7:1 - "But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan...took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel."
What made the things that Aachan took "accursed"?
The answer lies in the previous chapter of scripture.
When Joshua informed his military staff about the impending victory at Jericho he gave these instructions in Joshua 6:17-19:
"Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are in her house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And you, by all means keep yourselves from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD."
Some things belong to the LORD.
Not only should we honor God with a certain portion of our material things. Certainly the things that Aachan took were material things. But think about it...
We should also honor God with our time. Sadly we spend more time with the remote control and the telephone in our hands at home than we do the Bible or good Christian reading material.
Like the wife who was coming down the stairs and asked her husband lying on the sofa what he has been doing.
He replied, "Killing flies".
She said, "How many have you killed so far?"
He said, "Five, three males and two females."
She said, "How did you figure that out?"
He replied, "Three were sitting on the remote and two were sitting on the phone."
Seriously, stop and consider how much time you spend at home giving attention to spiritual things.
I’m not suggesting you walk around like a Pharisee with a verse of scripture taped to your head, or that you throw your tv set out the window.
But do we really see what Aachan’s problem was? He wasn’t willing to give to God what belonged to God.
And whenever we take the accursed thing it curses us and our household!
We cannot live spiritually successful family lives withtout God! That’s the foundation.
[By the way, do you see that Rahab, who had previously lived an immoral life, saved her family by her dedication to spiritual things?!"]
Next, Aachan was his own worst enemy at home because he had sinful secrets in his home.
He knew what he did was wrong and he had to hide the evidence under the floor of his tent.
Joshua 7:21 - "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."
Discovery time came. It always does.
We try to hide things from God and others and sooner or later they come to the surface. The Bible puts it this way:
"Be sure your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23c)
God doesn’t have to come with a search warrant. Sin has its natural consequences and they just start cropping up.
Oh the blessings of obedience! And oh the curse of disobedience!
Let the Holy Spirit talk to you today. What do you think you are hiding from God in your home? Think its securely hidden in your computer? Think again. Think its safely under lock and key in some cabinet? Do you believe that your thoughts of jealousy, bitterness, hatred, etc. are not known to God? Many times they are also realized by others because our thoughts are often betrayed by our actions.
God’s warnings here in the story of Aachan are for our advantage. Destroy the accursed things today. Ask God to help you. He will.
Jesus said, "And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell." (Matthew 5:29,30)
Now Jesus was using hyperbole. He wasn’t literally telling us to mutilate our bodies. Rather, He was telling us to deal immediately and drastically with those things that harm our spiritual life.
Aachan’s hidden sin affected his entire household. Do yourself and your family a favor today. Get rid of the accursed thing. It will drastically improve things at your household!
Thirdly, we become our own worst enemy at home when we fail to give glory to God.
Joshua 7:19 - "So Joshua said to Aachan, ’My son, I beg you, give glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me."
What do you do to honor God in your household?
I remember when I was a kid a friend and I were playing down the street from my house and he invited me in to his house for a drink of water. Much to my surprise his mother was in a side room kneeling before this huge shrine to her god. She had candles and incense burning, a big picture of her deity on the wall, and the music of her religion playing.
When we went back outside I asked my friend about what I had just seen. He said his mom had the largest bedroom in their house dedicated to worshipping her god.
I was dismayed as a young Christ-follower because I had just witnessed something very foreign to me, but I was also impressed with the woman’s devotion to her god.
Those of us who worship the only true God might consider being ashamed of ourselves. No, I’m honestly not trying to play the Holy Spirit.
But come on! We have our big screen tv’s (no I’m not suggesting they’re sinful), our mega-powerful stereo systems, our state of the art computers, our cell phones, and all the other gadgets of twenty-first century opulence - but what do we have that honors God in our home?
Some suggestions of things that honor God. I know I’ve said things like this before but I want to remind you again.
1. A Bible for every person in our household. Children’s Bibles in picture form for the very young; youth study Bibles for the teens; Bible study helps for the adults. (By the way, read the Bible, don’t just use it for decoration!)
2. Good Christian magazines. You don’t even have to subscribe - learn to trade with other Christ-followers or shop for good deals at thrift stores or yard sales.
3. Good Christian books, fiction and non-fiction.
4. Good Christian music.
5. Good Christian art.
6. A place to entertain other Christ-followers or others who we pray will become followers of Christ.
7. Verses of scripture and missionary prayer cards on the refrigerator, the mirrors in our bathrooms, etc.
Did you know that last year Americans gave:
$2.9 billion dollars to overseas missions?
But they also gave $7.7 billion to see movies, $13 billion to buy chocolate, $23 billion to buy toys, $23 billion to buy stuff for their pets, $24 billion for jewelry, $58 billion for soft drinks, $85 billion for lawn and garden care, and $354 billion to eat out at restaurants! (source: www.emptytomb.org)
Perhaps if Aachan had thought about putting things that honored God in his tent he wouldn’t have been tempted to covet the accursed things.
If you honor God in your home you will not need glittering substitutes and you will not become your own worst enemy.
When Aachan’s sin was dealt with the people of God won the battle at the city of Ai. (Joshua chapter 8)
Deal with the enemy in your household, even if its yourself, and you will begin to see great victories!