Joshua Message #16 by Ed Miller
As we look in the word there is that Bible principle that is indispensable and that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit. I hope that you are as thankful as I am to have the Holy Spirit living in your heart because He is the One who opens the scriptures and turns our eyes to Christ and explains to us the things of God. Let me share this verse and then we’ll pray together. Psalm 143:10-11, “Let Thy good Spirit lead me on level ground for the sake of Thy name, oh Lord, revive me.” Part of my being stable and walking on solid ground is that it gives a reputation to the Lord and it’s for His name. Let’s thank the Lord that He will lead us in a plain path. The word plain is “level”. He’ll lead us on level ground.
Our heavenly Father, we thank You for everyone that You have drawn together here and we pray that our hearts would be open to receive what is from You. We pray also for insight and discernment for what is not from You and that it might be rejected. We thank You Lord that we can trust You to be our teacher. We wait on You and ask You to turn again the eyes of our hearts to the Lord Jesus. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
I thank you for all of the prayers you have been given as I’ve been here and there and everywhere. We’ll not meet next week because I have a Bible conference in North Carolina. If you would pray for that I would appreciate it. We welcome you to the study of the Book of Joshua. We’re in the book of Joshua but we are always looking for the Lord Jesus. We study the Bible to know the Lord. Life in Christ is beautifully illustrated in this marvelous book of Joshua. Israel is entering into the land, that beautiful land, the land flowing with milk and honey and is a graphic illustration of our inheritance in Jesus, our life in the Lord, abiding in the Lord. The way Israel entered in and the way they dispossessed the enemy and the way they found out their particular parcel and portion as they learned to abide in the land and live off the land, all of that is a mighty parable of what is to live in union with our Lord Jesus Christ.
In our study together we’ve come to Joshua 7 & 8, the loss and then the subsequent victory at Ai. In our last session I suggested that there were two preliminary facts, that if you knew those two facts, it would be helpful when you came to study this battle at Ai. We only began to look at the first last time, so let me review that and then we’ll pick up our new material.
The first preliminary observation is understanding the ban, understanding that the ban is a picture of the spoils which belong to the victor. Listen please to Joshua 6:17, “The city shall be under the ban. It and all that’s in it belongs to the Lord. Only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But as for you, only keep yourself from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban and make the camp of Israel a curse and bring trouble on it. But all the silver and the gold, the articles of bronze and iron are holy to the Lord and they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”
The principle of the ban, as we stated it, is that the spoils belong to the victor; the one who is victorious gets the spoils. He gets those to keep them or to destroy them or to share them but all the spoils belong to Him. You remember in this first battle at Jericho God said that all the spoils, not 90% of it, but all of it goes to the Lord. Whatever was not burned or under the curse was to be brought into the treasury of the Lord. Isaiah 42:8, “I am the Lord. That is My name. I will not give my glory to another.” Achan tried to take God’s glory. Israel tried to take God’s glory. He will not let anybody tread on His glory. God won the victory and it was a gift to Israel. You see that in chapter 6:2, “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I’ve given Jericho into your hand.” It’s a gift. Joshua 6:16, “At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, ‘Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.” It’s a gift from the Lord. God won the victory.
The chief sin of Achan is spelled out in chapter 7:1, “The sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel.” Achan took some of the things under the ban. By doing that he robbed the Lord of His glory. The spoils belong to God and he took the spoils, as if the victory belonged to him.
But as we pointed out, it wasn’t only Achan that sinned. Verse 11, “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. They have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. Clearly Israel is accused of violating the ban but it’s not 100% clear how they did that. Some take chapter 7:11 very literally and say that what Achan did, so did Israel. They also stole stuff and hid it among their own things. We’re not dead sure that’s true. Some people think that it’s not literal but some people were aware of what Achan did and they tried to cover it up, a conspiracy of silence. They didn’t say anything. Some think that’s why they were guilty. Some think they were blameworthy because they didn’t even try to find out if someone did something wrong. Clearly, according to chapter 7:11, Israel is guilty in terms of stealing God’s glory.
When we left off last time I suggested this as a possibility of why Israel was guilty. It could have been something else, but at least it was this. Achan sinned after the battle of Jericho and took credit that belonged to God, that wasn’t his. Israel sinned, not at the end, but at the beginning, not at the battle of Jericho, but at the battle of Ai. One sinned at the end of the battle and one sinned at the beginning of a battle.
Joshua 7:3-4, “They returned to Joshua and said to him, ‘Do not let all the people go up; only about two or three thousand men need to go up to Ai; do not make all the people toil up there, for they are few.’ So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai.” The possibility clearly is that there is a sin here. That is the sin of self-confidence and self-reliance; a little pride and presumption here. Their attitude was, “Jericho is a big problem. We can’t handle Jericho. The walls are too high and too strong and the warriors are too skilled and mighty. We need the Lord for Jericho. But Ai, they are only a few and we can handle this. We don’t need you in this battle, Lord, so, if you don’t mind, you sit on the bench and we’re going play this game by ourselves. We need you for the big things but we can care of the little things. After all, Lord, we don’t want to bother You about little things. If we have a big problem we’re coming right to You. But if we have a little problem, you want us to handle that by ourselves.
Achan tried to take God’s glory after the battle was over. Israel tried to take God’s glory before the battle began, by saying, “We can handle the little things.” I suppose we could handle Ai if it were us that handled Jericho but we didn’t handle Jericho. The Lord won at Jericho and the Lord must win at Ai. Many, many Christians who have experienced victory at Jericho are defeated at Ai. I know from experience that is true. The fact is, we have no more ability to take Ai than we had to take Jericho.
When I studied psychology at school I was taught that certain personalities and certain temperaments were divided up into strong points and weak points. Well, maybe on the level of earth there are strong points and weak points but not in the life with the Lord; not in spiritual life. The reality is, and I hope you aren’t shocked by this, you have no strong points and you have no weak points. You have nothing and I have nothing. If you think you have a strong point, it’s in that very area that you are going to go down. If I think I have a strong point, I’m doomed to failure in that thing. I can’t handle anything.
I’ve experienced that Ai syndrome. In 2000 I had a very serious heart attack and I thought for sure I was going to heaven. I had perfect peace during that heart attack; the whole time. That was a big thing; I couldn’t handle that, so I gave that over to the Lord and I was at rest in that. We’ve had the experience where we have lost loved ones. I’m sure you have, too. That’s a hard thing. You give it to the Lord; “Give me grace that I can endure the losing of this life partner or family member or dear friend or something like that.” We’ve had financial difficulties where there was nothing in the cupboard. No problem; give it to Jesus. What are we going to do? We have nothing to do except pour it on the Lord. Whether it’s a storm that comes in or some random violence or an accident or something like that, any emergency, turn it over to the Lord.
Let me give you a few examples of the little things that we can handle. We praise the Lord; say that God gives you word to amputate your hand or your foot and you just give it to the Lord, “I don’t know what to do but here it is, Lord.” You have peace. That’s your hand and your foot. But bang your thumb with a hammer. That’s not the whole hand. You praise Him if He takes the whole hand but if you bang your thumb, that’s a little thing. How we fail when we bang our thumb. Same thing with the foot. He can have my whole foot but I hope there’s no stone in my shoe because the stone in my shoe makes me frustrated and I lose it. By grace I can lose a loved one but I can’t lose my keys or my glasses or my pens or my coffee cup (and they’re all over the place). If I don’t have any food I’m trusting the Lord but if I have food, I want to know who burned the toast and why are the corn flakes stale, and so on. Those little things we think we can handle, it’s amazing how we can’t. We could be laid up in the hospital for six months and trust the Lord but laid up for six seconds at a red light and what happens? We think we can handle the little things. We need the life of Christ every moment of every day for big things and for little things. If fire would burn my whole house down including my beloved library, I think I’d praise the Lord. But if misplace a book, watch out Lillian. Do you know what I’m saying; that the little things that we think we can handle, we can’t. Romans 7:18 KJV, “I know that in my flesh dwells no good thing.”
That was our preliminary observation; understanding that the truth the spoils, that the spoils belong to the victor. Philippians 3:3, “We are the true circumcision who worship in the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh.” None whatsoever. We don’t want to say, like Israel, “The battle is mine. I can handle it, Lord; step aside.” And we don’t want to say, like Achan, “You did it but then I’ll take credit for it.” We don’t want either one of those.
Let me give you the second preliminary observation that will help us to enter more fully into the loss and subsequent victory at Ai. First I want to illustrate it before I state it. The illustration is in chapter 7:24-26. This is the judgment on Achan. “Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan, the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughter, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.’ And all Israel stoned them with stones, and they burned them with fire after they had stoned then with stones. They raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day, and the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day.” (Valley of Trouble). Those verses describe a terrible judgment because the ban was violated. It’s quite severe. He’s stoned to death and burned with fire while all Israel either participated or just watched. It’s a terrible judgment.
Before I get to the principle, let me address the question that is often asked. Was Achan stoned by himself or did his whole family have to die because of that sin? Joshua 7:25, “And Joshua said, ‘Why do you trouble us? The Lord will trouble you this day and all Israel stoned them with stones and burned them with fire after they stoned them with stones.” In the NAS in the margin it says literally “him”. The Hebrew doesn’t say “them” the first time. It’s says “him”, stoned “him”. Then in verses 25 & 26, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day. And Israel stoned them with stones.” Once again, “them”, and they burned “them” with fire and after they stoned “them” with stones, they raise over “him” a great heap of stones.” They raised the heap of stones over him. The question is, “Was it only Achan that was stoned or was it his entire family?” Some say that it says that it says that it stoned them and burned them. They say the “them” is his herds, his flocks, all his stuff and they just put stones over everything. Even the KJV says, “them”.
Some believe that the family was not included in the stoning and the burning and that the “them” refers to the stuff; Achan and his stuff. They stoned him and put a heap of stones over him. Some people think the family was guilty and they knew about it. You just can’t go into a tent and then move the floor or dig a hole and that they were part of the cover-up. But it’s something that I think we can’t decide for certain. Maybe it was like the sons of Korah when Korah, Dathan and Abiram who resisted the authority of the Lord, were dropped in a sink hole and his family had to stand around and watch. The Bible says that some of the sons of Korah became worshippers in the temple. They wrote nine Psalms. So, you don’t have to go down with your parents, with the family.
Whether you believe or not that the whole family suffered, verse 12 of chapter 7, “The sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban.” If you believe that the sin in the camp not only affected the family but affected all Israel; one man affected the whole nation, whatever we conclude, remember that there are no contradictions in the Bible. Whatever we decide, it cannot contradict Ezekiel 18:4, “Behold all souls are mine. The soul of the father, as well as the soul of the son is mine. The soul who sins will die.” Look at verse 20, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity. The righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” Whatever Joshua 7 means, it can’t contradict Ezekiel 18, where God has promised, also given in Jeremiah, that He would never punish a child because of the sins of his parents and He would never punish a parent because of the sins of the child.
Let me take a Segway here because some people have gone beyond, I think, what the scriptures teach. They use a passage like Achan and also Exodus 20:5-6, “You shall not worship them or serve them. I, the Lord your God am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generation of those who hate me but showing lovingkindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandment.” Because of that verse they have the idea that God visits third or fourth generation in judgment. I’m suggesting that God does visit third or fourth generation, like he did for me but he visits in mercy and he breaks the cycle of that terrible generation.
Because of that there is a doctrine out there and perhaps you have heard of it, called “generational sin”. That generational sin is different than the sin nature passed down through Adam. They don’t mean that. They believe that sins and addictions and habits and curses can pass from generation to generation, from grandfather, great grandfather all the way to the children. If great grandfather was a sexual pervert, maybe that went through the bloodline and now this poor child is born and he is going to have tendencies toward sexual perversion. Or if great great grandma worried a lot, maybe that is passed down and that’s why I’m such a worrier and I fret over things. Or if someone was abused, then that’s why they abuse. Or given over to mental illness and all kinds of things.
There are actual ministries built around this idea. It’s called “the healing of the family tree” and it’s based on that generational sin and judgment curse is passed down. When a person is in ancestral bondage (these are their words and not mine), they don’t need the blood of Jesus to wash them from their sin. What they need instead is a deliverance; not a cleansing. They call it “possession”, “spirit possession”. They have a spirit that has been passed down. Great, great, great grandpa opened his heart to some spirit and now where is the spirit going to go when that body dies? Well, it’s just passed down to some other body, to future generations. Because it’s a spirit needing deliverance, it’s not a sin needing forgiveness. All of a sudden sin is not sin and they say, “I don’t have the sin of pride. I have the spirit of pride. I have the spirit of jealousy. I have the spirit of unbelief. I have the spirit of incest and perversion and so on. So, I have to go to a special meeting and have that spirit cast out. It’s a devil. It’s not a sin. It doesn’t need cleansing. It needs to be cast out.
The thing that makes that heresy so subtle is that it touches close on a truth of God which is that there are consequences for daddy’s sin that pass on to the kids. But a consequence is not a punishment from God. Children are greatly affected if they grow up with drunken parents. You can’t say that they are not. If a family has no respect for human life, sometimes kids follow that example. Or if they are given to addictions, it’s easy to get drugs, the kids are going to follow that. You and I know, and this is science, there is such a thing as FAS, “fetal alcohol syndrome”. A baby is born addicted because it’s in the blood stream. Our sin can affect others. I can tell a lie about you and that can affect you and your family and your children. I can bring disgrace on my family by my sin. I can defraud somebody or embezzle. You can’t say that’s not going to affect their lives. It’s going to affect them.
I read an illustration that was given as a true story. It was by a Lutheran pastor and I assume it’s true. A woman once spread untruth about that pastor, not only in the church but throughout the town and it was gossip everywhere. Then she got convicted by the Lord and she came to the pastor and she said, “I have sinned. I gossiped about you and told untruths and I want you to forgive me, please.” And he said, “I forgive you but do me a favor. Do you have any time? Come with me.” They got in a car and he went to a high place and it was a windy day. He took a feather pillow and he ripped it apart and let the feathers fly all over everywhere. He said, “I forgive you but I cannot gather again the feathers that you’ve spread all over town.” So you understand that sin can affect people.
Children can be born with addiction to alcohol or drugs or something like that but that’s a medical condition. That is not an evil spirit that needs to be cast out. God will never punish children for the sins of their forefathers. Proverbs 15:27 will always be true, “He that is greedy of gain, troubleth[W1] his own house.” Achan is an illustration of that. Our family tree was healed when we were born again and we have a new family tree, when we entered into Christ.
Just note for our study that the point I’m trying to make is not all of that ancestral stuff but that Achan was severely judged. Let me step back and give you a general observation that I’ve made through the years as I’ve given myself to the study of God’s word. As you go through the Bible, you are going to notice two things that often appear together. One is a cluster of miracles and the other is an unusually severe judgment of the Lord. You can’t just open your Bible and drop your finger down and expect to hit a miracle because they aren’t everywhere. They are in clusters. As you go through the Bible you are going to see clusters of miracles.
Let me give you some examples. When God was beginning to form a nation, a redeemed nation, Israel, every plague in Egypt was both a judgment and a miracle. When the people sinned with the golden calf, do you remember how severe that was? Exodus 33:27, “He said, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Every man of you, put his sword on his thigh. Go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp and kill every man his brother, every man his friend, every man his neighbor.” And so the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed and about three thousand men of the people fell that day.” That’s almost too much to take in, that God’s people were commanded, the priests, “Take a sword a kill your family and go kill your friends and go kill your neighbors.” Three thousand people died.
Another example was when God instituted the prophetic office. That was a time of miracles with Elijah and Elisha, a time when fire was prayed down from heaven and life from the dead. People were risen from the dead. Lepers were cleansed and there were supernatural healing of poison soup and supernatural provision for the hungry. But it was also a time for terrible judgment. 1 Kings 18, “Elijah said to them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal and do not let one of them escape.’ So, they seized them and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slew them there.” Actually, they were thrown off the cliff into the brook. The fact is that there were four hundred prophets of Baal and four hundred and fifty prophets of Asheroth and they were all slain that way.
Same thing with Elisha. 2 Kings 2:23, “Young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, ‘Go up, you bald head.’ And when he looked behind him he saw them and he cursed them in the name of the Lord and two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty two lads of their number.” That wasn’t for calling him “baldy”, by the way. They were rejecting the message. When they said, “Go up,” they meant, “Elijah was caught up. We don’t want you. Go up with Elijah. Go up, you bald head.” And the bear came out and killed forty two of them.
Once again, now God is establishing the church in the New Testament; a time of miracles and prison doors are going swing open and chains are going to fall from wrists and ankles and blind people are going to have their sight and crippled people are going to walk and the deaf are going to hear and the dead are going to be raised and demons are going to be cast out. In Acts 5, remember Ananias and Saphira and how severe that was? And what did they lie about? Full surrender. “All to Jesus I surrender.” Sometimes we sing the lie and we haven’t really given it to Him. Look what happened to them when they lied about full surrender. Chapter 5:4, “’While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? After it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.’ As he heard these words Ananias fell down and breathed his last and great fear came over all who heard it.” I guess so! If God would strike down in our church anybody who lied about full surrender I think we’d have a hard time walking down the aisle. Then what happened to his wife? I won’t read the verses 8-10 but the same thing happened to her because she had agreed with him. The result was chapter 5:11, “Great fear came over the whole church and all who heard these things.”
One more illustration. Coming soon, not to a theatre near you but coming soon. And that is the end times. God is going to set up a kingdom, isn’t He? What comes before that kingdom? Matthew 24:21, “Great tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.” When He sets up that kingdom for a thousand years in the millennium, it’s a time of great judgment and tribulation but it’s going to be a time of miracles. Long life; if a child dies at age 100, he has died just a very young person, according to the Bible. There is going to be no more war and no more deafness and no more blindness. Animals are going to get along together. Lions and bears and lambs and so on. Great miracles and great judgment.
Do you see what all those have in common? God was building a nation. God was instituting the prophetic office. God was building a church. God is setting up a kingdom. I call attention to that because in our study God is doing a new thing. He is showcasing life in Christ. He is building something new. They’ve never had this picture before and it’s going to be, and you’ll see it, and already begun to see it in Joshua, a time of miracles and a time when the Jordan River is going to open up during the floody season. It’s a time when walls are going to come crashing down. It’s a time when God is going to selectively throw hail out and hit only the enemy. It’s a time when the sun and the moon are going to stand still in the universe and everything is going to be altered. It’s a time of miracles and so, we read that it’s a time of great judgment. Joshua 7:24-26 is the cursing, the stoning of Achan.
Recently I had a dear brother visit my home and we were discussing this idea that when God does something new, there are many miracles and they are unusually severe. This brother had some experience in construction. I can’t build anything. I built a table that collapsed under Thanksgiving dinner. I built a ladder that the step fell off and my grandmother broke her ankle. I’m not that great at this. This man was telling me that great attention is given when someone is going to build something, to the foundation. The structure depends on the foundation. Everything depends on the foundation and he told this, “A foundation must be square, level and plumb.” Some of you who know more about it would enter into that more. But the foundation has to be square, level and plumb, otherwise whatever you build on that is going to be awkward and crooked and you won’t be able to put the windows in right and the roof is going to be crooked and on and on it goes. If the foundation is cockeyed, the entire structure is going to be unstable.
If that’s true on earth, how much more in the things of God? I’m just suggesting the severity that is here is because God is building something new and He is laying a foundation. When He lays a foundation He is unusually severe. We know 1 Corinthians 3:11, “No man can lay a foundation other than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ.” We have a perfect foundation. But I’m suggesting that God was so intense because He wants us to understand the picture of abiding in Christ. They learned it. They lost thirty six men in this battle. They fought thirty more kings with their armies over a period of over seven years and they never lost another man. Isn’t that amazing to have a seven year war and thousands die and you only lose in the whole war thirty six men? It wasn’t because they were strong. It’s because of the sin. That’s why they lost those men.
Isaiah 28:21, “The Lord will rise up as at Mt. Perazim. He’ll be stirred up, as in the Valley of Gibeon, to do His task, His unusual task, to work His work, His extraordinary work.” The NAS calls it “unusual task”. KJV calls it “to do His strange work”. What is God’s strange work? The answer is judgment. It’s unusual. He doesn’t like it and He doesn’t want to do it. It’s a stern necessity of His holy character. He has to do it but it’s His strange work, His unusual work, His extraordinary work but He’s laying a foundation and He’s going to be stern and He’ll lay down the judgment because He is serious that He is the victor and the spoils belong to Him.
Psalm 11:3 said, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Satan always attacks the foundations. He wouldn’t be much of a devil if he didn’t attack the foundation. He always goes after the foundations. When you read 11:3, remember that question is by the mockers. If you read the chapter you are going to see it’s the mockers that are basically saying, “We got your foundation. Now what are you going to do? What are the righteous going to do? We got your foundation.” Of course, the answer is, in Psalm 11, “We’re going to trust the Lord, even if the foundations are destroyed.” Don’t be surprised if God is doing something new in the church or doing something new in your family or doing something new in life or doing something new in history, that He is going to give a lot of attention to those first days, first weeks, the beginning, the foundation and He’s going to make sure that everything is square and level and plumb.
I can’t prove this but I think one reason Satan is having such a hard time dismantling the USA is because it started off with such a foundation. He’s getting to the foundation but it has taken Him a long time and it’s a big struggle because it was a good foundation.
From the record, the real reason for the defeat of Ai is given in chapter 7:12, “I will not be with you anymore.” That’s why they lost. They didn’t lose because they only sent three thousand. They didn’t lose because Ai was wiser or stronger or had a greater strategy. They lost because the Lord of Hosts Who appeared with the sword drawn in His hand, put that sword back in His sheath and said, “If you want to do it yourself, go for it!” That’s why they lost, because He let them do their own thing. The only reason you’ll ever be defeated, by the way, is when God lets you fight for yourself.
What was the occasion for God putting the sword back in the sheath? The answer is that Achan had a low view of the Lord. I want to say a few things about that. Are you familiar with A.W. Tozer? He made some comments on the importance of a proper vision of the Lord and I’ve jotted them down. “Worship is pure or base as the worshipper entertains high or low thoughts of God.” “A right conception of God is basic. Where it is inadequate or out of plumb, the whole structure will sooner or later collapse.” “Every error is traced finally to an imperfect thought about God.” “The heaviest obligation lying on the church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it’s once more worthy of Him.”
If you have a low view of God, everything is going to collapse and God won’t fight for you. Let me give you a few illustrations and they are obvious. Achan had a low view of God’s authority. Chapter 6:18&19, “God gave a command, ‘Don’t touch the ban.’” Clearly Achan did not regard God’s authority. He had no concept of God’s glory or what God hated. Chapter 7:20, “Truly I’ve sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did. When I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantel from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”
It’s a dreadful thing, brothers and sisters in Christ, to see something beautiful in something that God has cursed. If God has cursed it, then there is not beauty in it whatsoever. For example, I have a lot of communication with young Christians. If God tells a single Christian that He does not want them to be unequally yoked, there is no beauty in that; to be unequally yoked. If God says that it’s not beautiful, it’s not beautiful. I know some Christians think that I am really weird and over the top on many things and that I go too far and perhaps it’s true but I have a hard time with the light I have now, seeing beauty in something that goes against the Lord. When I was over in France, for example, and other places, people want me to go through these wonderful cathedrals. I know there is architecture and all that but I don’t live there anymore. I cannot see beauty in that which denies the Lord. I would not go into a Hindu Temple. There is not beauty in that. I don’t care what it’s made of. I’m not going into a mosque and I don’t want to go into any liberal cathedral with all its beauty because I don’t see beauty in it at all. More and more I want the value of the Apostle Paul when he looked over everything, “I just count it as dung.” “I just count it as garbage and refuse.”
There’s a second indication that Achan had a low view of God. Not only was he against His authority, I think he was weak on his omniscience. Would you agree with that? Why did he think in verse 21, “When I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantel from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold and fifty shekels in weight, I coveted them and took them. Behold, they are concealed.” Yeah, right! Concealed? Can you hide anything from God? I can see him rationalizing, “They just came out from wandering. They are just poor pilgrims,” and then right in front of him is gold and silver and beautiful things. Probably he said, “Nobody is going to miss them. They are all going die, so they aren’t going to miss them. It’s just a small piece. Who is going to miss it? Nobody even knows I did it. It’s all hidden.”
Psalm 139:11&12, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me and the light around me will be night, even the darkness is not dark to you and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” We can’t hide anything from the Lord. Hebrews 4:13, “There is no creature hidden from His sight. All things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Achan had a low view of His authority and certainly of His omniscience and of His Lordship. Joshua 6:17, “The city shall be under the ban and all that is in it belongs to the Lord.” Clearly Achan says, “Well, some things belong to me. All things don’t belong to the Lord.” Verse 21 he said, “I saw that and thought that would be mine and I’d take it.”
Achan never got to enjoy the things that he stole. Not only that, he lost everything that he ever had. He lost his flocks, his family, his herds, his tent and he lost everything. We think, “This belongs to me.” Mark 8:36, What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” He had a very low view. I love in that connection the Palm Sunday verse, Luke 19:31, “If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying that donkey,’ just say that the Lord has need of it.”
I say this for myself and for everybody that hears me, we do not own anything. In fact, you are not your own. We don’t own anything. We’re stewards and if you hold it this way and it says that the Lord has need of it, then you have to pry your hand open and there is going to be some pain connected with that. But if you hold it this way, tie up your donkey and you are a steward, when the word comes, “The Lord has need it,” it’s His. I don’t have house. The Lord has a house. I have stewardship of a house. I don’t have a bank account. I have to stop there, that’s for sure. The point is, the Lord owns everything and we are stewards. He saw, he looked and he coveted and he took and he buried and he lost everything.
Let me make two fast points and we’ll close this up. He thought that the enemy is out there, but there’s an enemy in here and we need to understand that the enemy was in Achan’s heart and that’s why they lost the battle. The enemy is in here. The first point is illustrated by the prayer of Joshua, chapter 7:6&7, “Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord, until the evening both he and the elders of Israel put dust on their head. Joshua said, “Alas, oh Lord, why did You ever bring this people over Jordan, only to deliver us to the hand of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond Jordan.” Later we’ll look at the prayer in a little more depth but doesn’t that sound a lot like the Israelites going through the wilderness?
Joshua is looking for the cause of the defeat and he’s looking for it in God. Why did You bring us over here, only to destroy us? Sometimes it is spiritual. It not only sounds spiritual but it is spiritual to assign something to the Lord. Something goes wrong and we have a defeat. Then we say, “Well, God works in mysterious ways. God is sovereign. God is redemptive. We’ve got to trust Him. I don’t know why we were defeated but God must have a reason. He must have something in mind.” There’s a right way to do that but sometimes God responds like verses 10&11, “The Lord said, ‘Rise up. Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned. They have transgressed my covenant.’” Sometimes we say, “Oh, the Lord allowed it.” Maybe we shouldn’t look to Him. Maybe we should look in here and the sin is in our own heart. The cause of the defeat is not in God. Joshua was looking in the wrong place.
One more final observation. Chapter 7:1, “The sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah took some of things under the ban. Therefore the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel.” In Joshua 7:18, “He brought his household near man by man; and Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah was taken.” I want to point out that this is an extreme illustration but it’s not an accident that he’s from the tribe of Judah. The tribe of Judah is the Messianic tribe. Christ will come from that tribe. It’s important to understand.
Some people think there is safety in the tribe of Judah. I’m just trying to warn you that we’re all on level ground here. Do you realize that Judas was the only one of the twelve disciples that was not a Galilean? What tribe is he from? He was from the tribe of Judah. He was from the Messianic tribe. Keriath, where his father is from, was in Judah.
I remember a woman that expressed great joy and she came to me and said, “I’m so thankful my daughter has decided to go to Bible School rather than to go to some secular college because I fear for her and I’m so glad. Well, that gladness was turned to sadness when her daughter turned up pregnant at Bible School. I’m just saying that there is no safety in Judah and there is no safety in a Christian home and there is no safety in seminary and there is no safety in church. There is safety in Christ and we need to trust the Lord. Christians are as liable to sin as anybody else. You take your eyes off Christ and you can do anything that the most unsaved person can do. It’s in us and that’s why in us dwells no good thing. We need to trust the Lord.
There’s more and we haven’t even finished the loss at Ai, let alone the subsequent victory but we’ll close there.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your precious word, not what we think it is but You’ve inspired it and You inspire to mean something and whatever that something is, work it in our hearts and lives. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen