(If reading via email, click here to listen to the audio version of this blog post.)
I chose to discipline my daughter the other day for misbehaving. She later came to me and said, “Mommy, I think you accidently spanked me too hard.” In my defense, my soft light hand merely made slight physical contact with the upper part of her thigh. If you ask me, she was just disturbed at what she perceived to be an inappropriately harsh response to her actions.
And you know what? Having read Joshua chapter 7, I am now able to empathize with her on a deeper level!
Here we read about Achan’s sin. Achan was an Israelite who fought with Joshua in the battle of Jericho. In this battle, God commanded that the Israelites not keep any of the plunder that was left behind. Unfortunately, Achan disobeyed this command. As a result, the Lord’s anger burned against Israel and thirty-six Israelites died in a subsequent battle against Ai for which they could have been victorious. Eventually, Achan was brought forth and he confessed to hiding this plunder in his tent.
He, all his possessions, and his family were stoned to death and burned.
“Wait, what?!” “Stoned!” “Burned!” “…His family too?!” “Come on God, I think you may have accidentally ‘spanked’ Achan too hard.”
When I read the second half of verse 25, I was in shock! I was not ready for that! I thought “MAN, thank goodness God does not punish sin like that today! Woo hoo!!”
Then I thought about it more. Soon the theme of my celebration changed. It’s not true to say that God punishes sin “differently” today than He did in the days of Joshua and Achan. The wage of sin is STILL death. God is STILL holy and can’t allow ungodliness to go unpunished. God’s wrath must STILL be satisfied. Sin is STILL serious.
God has not toned down His response to sin. He has not given us a pass on punishment. What He has done is offered us the cross.
This story reminded me that through the greatest act of grace, God came to us in the form of Christ, bore all of my sins then died for me. Jesus took my place on the cross. Jesus was killed so that I can live. Wow!
You may ask yourself, “why death?”
Well, notice how Achan’s sin started this domino effect of crisis on all of Israel? Our sin has the same effect. Its consequence not only impacts our own lives, but also the lives of those around us. Then notice what happened once the sin was punished— not just lectured on, placed in a ‘time-out’ of sorts, but completely killed and destroyed: The Lord then blessed Israel in the battle against Ai and permitted them to, this time, take the plunder!
Joshua chapter 7 offers us a warning against willfully sinning against God as well as a sense of hope in the fact that God will bless us once we rid ourselves of whatever sin we are facing. We are encouraged to “stone” it and “burn” it rather than try to hide it because it will sure catch up with us eventually.
“Stoning and burning” the grip of gossip, materialism, pride, addiction, lust, or whatever sin has a hold on you are possible once we possess and confess a belief in Christ as we accept His Lordship in our lives. Otherwise, we may just keep sinning and think, “yes, I sinned, but, hey, He died… so why not continue to sin?” Here’s why not: one of my husband’s professors calls it a “mechanical impossibility.” If we “live in Him” we can’t continue to willfully sin against Him.
We do have options, though: If we want no part of His authority in our lives, we also want no part of His forgiveness.
I don’t know about you, but after reading about Achan’s sin and further understanding how the truths of these passages apply to my life today, I certainly see my need for forgiveness because just as surely as God is still good, sin is still serious!
Here is a free image for you to download and share: