Talking about sin is hard. But we need to because the Scripture does. If we claim to love Jesus Christ then we are told directly by HIM that we must obey HIS words, all of Scripture and all principals that agree with the scriptures.
Let us clearly define sin based on the Bible / Scripture. Sin is doing, thinking or believing the opposite of what God wants. Many things are spelled out explicitly, others things less clear but still important.
To avoid sin…
1st we have to know what God would have us do, who He would have us be…And THEN we have to honestly, intentionally and transparently pursue such a life. Disobedience to God’s desires is sin. Ignoring God’s commands, precepts and principals is sin. Taking away a part of what God says, interpreting His Word out of context, is sin. Adding to what God prescribes for HIS people is sin.
God’s Word is meant to convey multiple meanings and have multiple uses. Everything from the big picture to personal application. The centuries long story of how God takes a group of people and HE walks with them to reveal himself and HIS desires for all people. Through these people, HIS people HE demonstrates how no human being can live in a way acceptable to HIS Perfect Triune Holiness. From that nation HE comes in person to make a way for our lives to be acceptable to HIM. By HIS perfect sacrifice for us we can embrace our dependency for a ‘Father’ we need.
There is also a massive amount of human relational information given to guide us in how we live. The characters are all there for a reason: to teach us how we are and are not to relate to our Creator. Every interaction can be mined for application to our lives as Christ followers. This information is only revealed by God’s Spirit in us and our yielding to to HIS tutelage.
As we join the story today, Jericho has been dedicated to the Lord, His desire was for everything thing to be destroyed except Rahab’s family and the metal objects.
1 But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.
- It doesn’t say ‘Achan’ violated God’s instructions, it say ‘Israel’ violated
- The object of God’s righteous anger is the entire nation (His Body)
- God knows every little thing, it’s declared throughout Scripture…and life!
2 Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. 3 When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”
- Map shows the proximity, spies were sent the next day
- They are confident that it will only take a portion of their fighting men
4 So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, 5 and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope.
- God is the One who decides who wins or loses every battle
- Soundly defeated, aka ‘routed’; it implies being turned back, retreating
- Outside the town they had quarries to hold water, the Israelites were trapped
- 36 soldiers did not return from the battle
The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away. 6 Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening.
- The loss of 36 soldiers totally unnerves the whole nation
- The removal of God’s favor is noticeable to the spiritually sensitive
- They know something is wrong
- Communal mourning & humbling themselves before God
- Joshua is dramatic, but he is feeling the weigh of leadership
- He is talking to God without knowing the whole situation (Every Human Prayer)
8 Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? 9 For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?”
- Joshua can’t explain his army losing, he thought God was doing his bidding…
- He is jumping ahead to what he thinks is going to happen
- Joshua, like us, is only able to see from his perspective in the situation
- He is concerned about God’s reputation (learned that from Moses)
10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings.”
- Why does God tell Joshua and the Elders to get up?
- God charges the leadership with lack of supervision and ultimately being lax
- God addresses them as a singular thing: Israel
- God says: you did it, you lied about doing it and then you made it your own
- This is a pattern of how sin is multiplied instead of repented of
- Without repentance sin only multiplies
The word ‘repent’ has two aspects: one is to admit the wrong, and the second is a intentional move away from that particular behavior / attitude / words / lifestyle. ‘Come Clean and then Change’
12 “That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.”
- The spiritual impact is a lack of connection / separation from God
- The sin that is not repented of has multiplied and is defeating an entire nation
- In current state of un-repentance, the nation of Israel is under God’s judgement
- God will withdraw HIS presence unless the situation is rectified
13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.”
- Get to work…tell everyone to prepare spiritually
- HE instructs Joshua to tell all the people:
- God says there is someone who has hidden things meant to be devoted to God
- God says this sin will hold back the nation from their promised destiny
- It must be dealt with, as a community
14 “In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the Lord will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the Lord will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the Lord will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one.”
- Everyone will be examined, all 12 tribes worth. Millions down to one person
- God will point out exactly who the guilty party is
15 “The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”
- When the guilty party is identified all that is his will be devoted to the Lord
- The price is high because of what it cost (God’s disdain & 36 men)
16 Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Judah was singled out. 17 Then the clans of Judah came forward, and the clan of Zerah was singled out. Then the families of Zerah came forward, and the family of Zimri was singled out. 18 Every member of Zimri’s family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out.
- At each point of the process Achan could have come forward
- He is given multiple chances but not an infinite number of chances…
19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.” 20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel.
- Only now when Achan has no other choice does he repent (Too Late)
One day every knee will bow to Jesus Christ! We, HIS followers, joyfully do it now!When Christ returns and MAKES every knee bow, it will be too late for that supplication to save anyone.
21 Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.”
- His confession: Beauty from Babylon, Heavy Gold & Spendable Silver
- He took three things that express pride (the root of all sin)
- He wanted to feel special / have security / gratify any urge
22 So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achan had said, with the silver buried beneath the rest. 23 They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the Lord.
- Twice it says the silver is buried beneath the other stuff, deeper in the ground
- Why is the silver buried deeper? $100,000
24 Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. 25 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.”
- God gave specific instruction, Joshua made sure he followed them
- Notice: ALL the Israelites did it together, demonstrating the pattern God wants
- Together we establish & maintain ‘Biblical Culture’ regarding dealing with sin
- It is THE LORD who brings the trouble (Your sin will find you out)
And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. 26 They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.
- Judgement was enacted. The Justice of God
- Valley of Trouble
- The desires of pride always lead to trouble
The explicit instruction of God regarding the devotion of the entire city of Jericho are disobeyed by only one man amongst the whole army of Israel. This act of disobedience is not seen by God as an individual act but instead HE charges the whole nation with the guilt of it.
In the corporate sharing of the cost of one man’s disobedience, thirty six men die without need: husbands, fathers, brothers, friends…because of a robe, a gold bar and 20 pieces of silver! When we live in God given community we share a communal responsibility to deal with the sin of our community.
The whole nation participates in the exposure, denouncement and punishment of the sin. The cost is great, and everyone has to deal with the up-close reality of God’s judgement. In the end there is grace extended by Yahweh to the people, but it is costly grace! God’s people are to live based on these principals.
What would have happened if Achen had admitted his sin prior to the failed attack on Ai?
What if Ananias and Sapphira would have admitted their sin when Peter asked them?
Why does God make the whole nation pay for the sin of one man?
How might you live differently if you were to acknowledge the effects of your sin on others you share life with?
How well do you repent? (based on the scriptural definition: confession & change) What does that look like?
Why do the Israelite lose their courage a few days after watching God act so miraculously on their behalf, in the destruction of Jericho?
What are some regular practices we can embrace as a community in order to promote transparency regarding sin here at Midtown?
VISION & PRACTICE:
In the Body of Christ we acknowledge our interdependence and communal responsibility to deal with sin as a group, culture that reflects scriptural principals. We intentionally work to establish relationships among The Body that are strong enough to carry the weight of transparency and confession of sin, entrusting our forgiveness and peace to our Lord Jesus Christ.