Joshua 7 Dec. 14, 1997
Scripture: Joshua 6:15-21, 24; 7:1, page 338-339, pew Bible
The message that John the Baptist came preaching was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near (Mt. 3:2).” The message that Jesus continued on from John was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near (Mt. 4:17).” The kingdom of heaven is the rule of God both as a present reality and a future hope. The land of Canaan is the earthly parallel to the heavenly kingdom. The story about Achan in Joshua chapter 7, as the Israelites begin to enter the Promised Land, is a good illustration of this message from God that has been in effect from ages past until even now.
1. The reality of God’s heavenly rule on earth was near for the Israelites.
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."
2. God must have first place in any kingdom called by his Name.
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.
3. Anyone who withholds God’s first place for himself compromises the realization of God’s absolute kingdom on earth and thereby discredits God.
6 ¶ Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads.
7 And Joshua said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!
8 O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies?
9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?"
4. Anyone who withholds God’s first place for himself compromises the realization of that kingdom for others and brings grief.
10 ¶ The LORD said to Joshua, "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?
11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.
12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
5. Sin in the camp calls for repentance because the camp where God is must be holy. Without repentance, the weakness of sin shall prevail.
13 "Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.
6. God gives ample opportunity for repentance.
14 "'In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe that the LORD takes shall come forward clan by clan; the clan that the LORD takes shall come forward family by family; and the family that the LORD takes shall come forward man by man.
7. God’s call for repentance puts us to the test.
15 He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel!'"
8. Our lack of repentance puts God to the test.
16 ¶ Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken.
17 The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken.
18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.
9. Testing God brings disastrous results because God will not be tested. His holiness must be satisfied.
19 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me."
20 Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done:
21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath."
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath.
23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD.
24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor.
25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today." Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them.
26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.
10. Obeying God brings nearer the kingdom of God.
1 ¶ Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.
11. Once God’s holiness and rightful place have been satisfied, we may take our fill. (Lk. 17:7-10)
2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city."
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:12)
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11-12)