Summary: Joshua, Pt. 5
ONE BAD APPLE (JOSH 7)
Three churches – Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian – worked together to sponsor a community-wide revival. (The revival meetings were a success. New faces appeared, old friends returned, and neighbors were more aware of the church’s presence and programs in the community) After the revival concluded, the three pastors were eagerly discussed the results with one another (over lunch).
The Methodist minister (smiled with utmost satisfaction and) said, “The revival worked out great for us! We gained four new families.” The Baptist preacher (responded with unrestrained excitement and) said, “We did better than that! We gained six new families.”
The Presbyterian pastor (surprised his two friends and) said, “Well, we did even better than that! We got rid of our ten biggest troublemakers (and the church has never been better)!”
The most troublesome, bothersome and wearisome enemies of Israel in their conquest of the Promised Land were not Gentile kings, foreign armies, powerful weapons, or the local weather and the rugged terrain, but invisible but stubborn enemies: sin, disobedience, and unfaithfulness in the camp. Nothing had created so much havoc, caused so much loss, or brought so many tears. The most potent enemy the new generation had ever faced was secret, unconfessed sin, which cost them so much turmoil. The battles before and after Ai were plain sailing compared to the battle of the heart. Crossing the Jordan River (Josh 3), entering Jericho (Josh 6), and battling the coalition of five Amorite kings (Josh 10) or any other joint kings, tribes, and armies (Josh 11) were a breeze compared to dueling with sin. Waging war against sin was bruising, but the reward was worthwhile. In fact, Joshua’s army would be unstoppable in their march to the Promised Land after sin was dealt with and the episode settled.
Why is unconfessed sin so odious in God’s eyes?
Sin’s Presence Cancels Prime Performance
7:1 But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel. 2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there.” 4 So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water.
An old Arabic story tells about a thief who botched a burglary, broke his leg, but argued with the judge when he was caught: “I demand justice. I was minding my business when I saw an open window, but when I was climbing in, but the sill gave away. I fell to the ground, and broke my leg.”
The judge summoned to his court the house owner who explained to the judge: “Your Honor, it’s not my fault. I paid the carpenter good money to build my window. He should have built it so it wouldn’t fall apart.” The judge next sent for the carpenter, who said: “The truth is, I was feeling ill the day I nailed it together. I had eaten a pie from a baker’s shop, and it upset my stomach.” Next, the baker arrived at the court, and told his story: “Your Honor when I was making the pie, a beautiful woman in a beautiful dress came into my shop to buy pastries. That’s why I did not pay enough attention to my pies.” The woman who was brought told her side of the story: “Your Honor, as the baker himself said, “The dress caught his eye, not me. The dressmaker is the one to blame.”
Finally, the tongue-tied dressmaker appeared before the judge. He stammered, stuttered, and could think of anything to say. The judge ordered him hanged. But the dressmaker was too tall for the gallows, and so they found a shorter dressmaker in his place. (Adapted from The Moral Compass 606-608, William J. Bennett, NY: Simon & Schuster)
The trouble with caving into sin is that it reverses all the good that has been done, undermines all the progress that one has made, and imprisons those guilty or innocent in its path. Somebody paid the price for, suffered the consequences of, and took the brunt for Achan’s sin. Israel’s past success counted for nothing, her celebration was muted and her victory turned to defeat. Others were casualty when God withdrew His protection from Israel for the violation of God’s covenant.