|Messages By Ovid Need|
Just One - Joshua 6:18,19
I told the SS class last week that I am trying to relearn to preach and teach. I am trying to wean away from notes and massive studying for my messages. I will still do in-depth study for my own use, but in my messages I want to keep in simple. The term for me to remember is, KISS.
The text that has kind of been going through my mind is found in Joshua 7. It is a familiar story of Achan's sin, but it would be well to be reminded of this.
The Church has been in existence since the promise given in the Garden to Adam. Up until the time of the nation of Israel, the Church was the family with the father as the high priest. With the founding of the nation Israel, we have a national Church. The Church was the state, the state was the Church. The priest has authority over the state. If one wanted to be in the Church, they had to become an Israelite, they had to become a proselyte and join this nation.
Then since Christ, the Church has been a separate organization, separate from the state. Both the state and the Church are ordained by God, but one is not given authority over the other.
In both testaments, O & N, a person could be a christian and not be a member of the church, and a person could be a member of the church and not be a christian. Niviah repented and was spared the judgment of God, yet they did not become Israelites.
All of that to say this. In the OT, we have God working through His OT Church, the nation of Israel. We see the NT principles of the gospel acted out in His dealings with, in and through this nation. OT Israel shows us how He deals with the Church today. This situation with Achan is typical of how He soes this dealing.
As we know, Israel had come into Palestine after the death of Moses under the leadership of Joshua. The Lord brought them over the Jordan in the vicinity of the fortified city of Jericho.
This is an important point. Jericho was the first city of the land which the army of Israel came into contact with. This was going to be the first battle in claiming this land.
The Lord had given them some strange instructions for the taking of this city.
1. They would not have to lay siege to this city, because God was going to deliver it to them in a miraculous way. All they would need to do was march around it for seven days, then the Lord would deliver it to them.
2. We see in 6:18, 19, that every thing in the city was to be dedicated to the Lord. All that had breath was to be killed, with the exception of Rahab. Her faith spared her and her family.
The reason for this total destruction of Jeracho was that this was the first fruits of the land. This was the first of many victories which the Lord was going to provide. Therefore, all of any value was His. This was the tithe off the top of the whole.
The army of Israel followed the Lord's instruction in the marching around the city. The Lord delivered the city in a great way, and every thing in it that had breath was killed, and all of any value was dedicated to the Lord.
6:26, Joshua places a curse upon anyone who would attempt to rebuild this city. This curse was fulfilled. V. 27, it was a great victory which made Joshua famous.
Which brings us to chapter 7. We will only pick out some high points of this chapter and apply them. To introduce this chapter, let me point out that the Lord had given this people a choice, which was the same choice that we have today.
In Deuteronomy Moses had told them that if they would follow the Lord with all their being, the Lord would cause their enemies to flee from them. If not, they would flee from their enemies. This same choice is given to the Church in Gal 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
The nation of Israel was not some wondering tribe by now. It had come out of Egypt with a 600,000 man army, making the nation probably 3 million strong. They had now been in the wilderness for 40 years, making them a disciplined nation.
God's word had placed His curse against what Achan did back in 6:18, 19.
For us: God alone can define good and evil. When His curse is against something, nothing will remove that curse.
The anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel.
This was over one man's sin. One person sparked the anger of the Lord against millions of people.
Joshua sent men up from where they had gained their great victory, Jericho, to Ai. They were to check out the strength of the city, the best way to attack it and so on.
They brought back their report, v.3.
They had just come from a great victory at Jericho. They forgot that that victory was the result of explicit obedience to the Lord's instructions. This victory caused them to assume that the Lord would be with them this time also. They were self-confident and saw no need to check with the Lord this time.
Something was a little different this time that should have warned Joshua, but he missed it. Before they moved against Jericho, the Lord had appeared and told Joshua just what to do. The Lord didn't this time, so they acted upon the assumption that He was still with them in a mighty way.
I think that we stand in constant danger of assuming too much out of the Lord.
1. We are in danger of assuming that because we are the people of the Lord, He is continually with us to give us power and victory.
2. We are in danger of mistaking a great victory in an area of our lives for the Lord's continued presence.
This record of what happened to Israel here at Ai, shows us that the Lord's presence is a daily thing. His presence and help is something that must be humbly sought daily. If Joshua had sought the Lord's face here first, 36 men would have still been alive.
Vs. 4, 5
The army confidently went up against Ai, 3,000 against this small town. To the natural mind this would be plenty to do the job. But we see that a few men came out of the city and perused them, they chased them like bees. The Lord had warned them about this, Deut. 32:30 How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?
1. God's people's power and strength in the face of the enemy comes from their faithfulness to the Lord, IN PRIVATE AND IN PUBLIC.
2. No person affects only himself. Our actions, even in private which no one can see, affect our families, our Church, our community. This one man's one sin was charged to the whole nation; a nation of about 3 million people.
Out of this nation, we see here that one person did not believe God. He thought that he, being only one person, could get lost in the crowd and no one would notice, no one would know what he was doing or care if they did know. He believed that he could follow the desires of the flesh and go on as though nothing was wrong. He believed that his personal, private life would not harm anyone or anything, nor was it anyone's business.
(I can just hear Achan now. "That Joshua, he is sticking his nose into my buisness.)
But we see that he was mistaken. This one man who thought that no harm would come from just this one thing, caused the whole congregation of the Lord to be in sin before the Lord.
We hear the discussion regularly, Does the private life of leaders affect their public performance? Here we see that it most cerainly does.
We are tempted to say, "Boy, the Lord sure is intolerant to hold the whole church accountable for one man's sin." And I will have to agree, BUT HE MADE THE RULES and made provision to follow them. It is our duty to follow them.
Also here, one man's private life cost the lives of 36 others. I am totally in favor of a drunk being put to death, life for a life, who takes the life or lives of others in his drunken condition.
But, how many have been destroyed by the secret sin in the lives of just one individual? Here we see behind the scenes how one person's secret sin affected those around him.
Remember Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira his wife? They conspired together in secret to lie about a matter. They lost their lives for this. Then in 1 Cor 5 we see that Paul instructed the Church to keep sin out of it, and he told them how to do it. The sinner was to be cut off from the church as a dead person. The result of this kind of purity in the new church gave it unbelievable power with God and influence for Him in the society around them.
A person may think that what they do in private does not effect any one but themselves. Here we see that this idea is a lie of the enemy of God. This one man's sin cost 36 good men their lives.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Our warfare in this world is not a physical warfare, but spiritual. This means that everything we do effects others, either for good and God, or for the enemy of God and of their souls.
As we have said so many times, nothing is neutral. Might we see the necessity of daily searching of our hearts, of daily claiming the grace and power of the Lord for living according to His plan for our lives. We just do not realize how much effect we have on others. Either for their good or for their destruction.
2. A second point here. The hearts of the people melted, and became as water. They lost their boldness to face the enemies of God. This sin by one person brought defeat, then discouragement and hopelessness to others. And not only to the other people, but to Joshua himself, v. 7. This would make one wonder if the discouraged feeling in the Church in general today, is a result of sin which has become so accepted?
3. Another point which is indicated here and confirmed in the NT. This secret sin in this one person caused blindness and deception to set in over the whole of the congregation. They were unable to see the need to check with the Lord daily. They were confident when they should not have been.
Obviously, this one man's sin had a great damaging affect upon the whole congregation of the Lord here. No person affects only himself with his hidden sins.
They are defeated here at Ai.
They take the problem to the Lord.
Joshua and the elders..
1. The people did not leave it up to their leader to find the problem. All the people were concerned over the matter.
It is tempting to say, "The pastor needs to do something," instead of saying, "What can I do?" We are tempted to leave the responsibility for prayer and seeking God's face and mercy, up to the preacher or up to some one else.
I have seen over the years that the spiritual leadership of the family, as a rule, is left up to the wife and mother. The responsibility for raising our children is left up to some one out side of the family. This is not right.
The responsibility rested here on all the people. We cannot pay some one to take our responsibility before God.
2. Joshua looked at this setback as God departing from the people, instead of as the people departing from God.
3. Joshua reminded the Lord of His great name. The Lord's name was at stake, not Israel's.
The Lord answers Joshua's prayer, but not in the manner which he expected.
1. The Lord places the blame where it belongs. This was in response to prayer, because the sin was a secret sin, known only to God.
2. Israel hath sinned... This is the second time this is mentioned (v.1), and here in v. 11, the Lord uses the words 5 times which make this private sin a community sin. The word of God wants us to be sure we do not miss this point. One man's secret sin cost the whole congregation of the Lord their power with God and their ability to overcome the enemies of God. V.12, Therefore....
3. V. 11, the Lord pins this sin down, then tells Joshua how to track it down.
4. V. 13. It could not be put off. It was either deal with this secret sin or remain in this place for the rest of their days.
And we must say this about that. We may be able to cover that secret sin which we are protecting in our lives, but the Lord knows. The result will be that our Christian life will be placed on hold from then on. We will be placed upon the shelf. And there is no worse place for a Christian.
5. It was to be taken care of immediately, the next morning. We are extremely tempted to say, "Yes, I realize that is a sin that I need to deal with. And I am going to - tomorrow or the next day. As soon as I get around to it."
6. V. 15, folly.. It is folly to think that we can hid that sin from God, or that we can keep it around without it destroying us and others, or that it is a private sin which doesn't affect others.
Vs. 16-18, the choosing.
The sin was found in the house of Judah. This was the chosen tribe, the tribe that had the promise of an everlasting king. I can just hear the people now! Who would have ever thought it would be there??
Then it is narrowed down to the one man, Achan.
Vs. 20, 21. When confronted, he confesses. Notice the basic sin which he confessed to, covetousness. This basic sin is at the root of all sin. The love of money and the things it will buy.
How many Christians have sold out their selves, their families, their communities and their Church, as well as their Lord, for money? This one man's covetousness cost this congregation of over 3 million people their power over the enemies of God.
His sin had been well covered, but now it is known to all. Secret sin in not secret.
This is one of the basic principles of Christianity. Our Lord warned about this very thing, Lk. 8:17. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.
Also, I have heard people speak because of their pride, "If I make this right, what will people think?" Here we see that it will be out in the public sooner or later. It is best that those secret sins be confessed now, laid aside and the conscience cleared so the congregation of the Lord can have God's power over His enemies.
Those sins will all be known sooner or latter. It may never be known this side of the judgment day, but it will be open for all to see.
Joshua checks it out.
Achan pays the price. Even though he confessed, not only Achan, but his family pay the price. The primary purpose of confession is not to avoid the consequences of sin. It is to clear the conscience and renew fellowship with the Lord.
His secret sin cost the lives of 36 fighting men who loved God. It cost the lives of his wife and family of at least 5 more, and his animals. He lost everything to his covetousness.
The sin had to be dealt with.
Then we read of the result in chapter 8. They had the blessings of God and the power of God.
Do we desire the blessings and power of God? I am sure we do. Therefore, let us not assume anything, but daily check our relationship for any hidden, secret sin.
Are we knowingly protecting a secret sin? Every one is affected by it.
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