Posted by: lepages | March 16, 2011

Dishonesty & Disaster….

I sometimes think that life is a bit like the tides of the sea on a beach – sometimes the tide is in, its glorious as the waves break on the shore at high tide, but there’s not much room to move! Then at low tide, there’s loads of space and you can run and explore as much as you like!

Anyway, the last few weeks have felt like high tide – a glorious time, but not much space to move!

So I finally get round to updating the blog. I’ll post the third of my preaches from Joshua today and aim to update on the athletic side of life tomorrow…. possibly!! My preach takes us to Joshua 7, leaping along from my preach from Joshua 2. If you’d like to hear what went inbetween, you can listen in at Rutland Road

Dishonesty & Disaster

Joshua 7

I want you to imagine the scene.
You’re a property developer.
You’ve just purchased a host of property ripe for development in an up and coming area that’s been through a troubled past, but you can see the potential to invest and convert these properties into some excellent executive apartments, serviced well with good nearby communications.
Plans are going through okay. You’ve got the property okay – some of it is still rental, but there’s ways and means of managing that.
Then the police’s new website goes online – and everyone can see the stats for crime in the area.
It’s horrendous! It’s evident there’s a high incidence of alcohol and drug related crime and disturbance. Vandalism and graffiti is common. There’s even some record of violent crime and of a paedophile in the area.

What do you do?

You want to create a nice new community where people will be happy to stay and live, but unless you are somehow able to remove the problems (the problem makers!) then the problems are just going to reoccur over time…….

This was the scenario that Joshua faced as he led God’s people to possess a new land – a land flowing with milk and honey, but filled with people with evil customs that brought damage to others and dishonour and displeasure to God.

God’s command as we saw last week was quite clear – they should destroy everything – and anything of any value should be devoted to the Lord, for his use, and not kept by the people, where it may tempt them into disobedience to God’s Law – with all the possibilities of breaking each of the 10 commandments – worshipping other gods, having idols, forsaking their day of rest and worship, failing to honour members of their families, falling into adultery, theft, lies, covetousness and ultimately murder.

God did not want any of these things to characterise his people as they entered their new land – he wanted a people who would characterise justice and righteousness – right ways of living – and so he warned them through Joshua in chapter 6:18
“But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go to his treasury.”

The account then goes on to reflect on the triumph and how the city was taken. The next chapter begins with a horrible word though…..

We’re going to read the account from Joshua 7 to see what happened.
I’m going to read it from the New Living Translation, which will appear on the screen, as the English flows better for reading the narrative out loud.

READ Joshua 7 NLT

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.

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.”

4 So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated.
The men of Ai 5 chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope.
The Israelites were paralysed 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. 7 Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! 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 honour of your great name?”

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. 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.

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.

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. 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.”

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.

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. 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.”

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.

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.” 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.

The chapter begins and ends with God’s anger.
V1 says
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.

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.

Do you ever get angry about anything? (Response????)
I do!

This is something that makes me angry.
Saw an ad on the TV the other night and struggled to believe what I was seeing.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer
APR 4214%!!!!

The reason we get angry is that we are made in God’s image, in his likeness.
All our emotions are a part of our being made in the image of God, though our emotions are no longer pure, unlike God’s. Ours have been distorted by the effects of sin.

Anger for God starts in the early pages of Genesis.

God makes a beautiful creation.
He looks at it all and sees that it is very good.

And then, that part of creation which he particularly loved, which he had created in his image, to enjoy him, to enjoy his creation, goes and does the one thing he has asked that they not do, bringing shame into a world which did not know shame – and God is angry – and puts a curse on the ground and sends Adam & Eve out from the Garden of Eden.
If you were to turn over the page from Adam & Eve’s fall in Genesis 3 you would come to chapter 6 and see there God’s pain and anger over the evil that now dominated the world.
Genesis 6:6-8 says:-
‘The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.’
So the LORD said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them.’ But Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD.

You see God may be angry against sin and the damage it does to his beautiful creation – the damage which sin does to the height of his creation, human beings – but the fact is that he loves his creation – he loves human beings. And so his heart is always to save, to preserve, to rescue people – even in the midst of his judging he loves, and in a very real sense it is because of his desire for his creation to be the best that it can be, that he judges.

So in our scenario with Joshua, God brings devastating judgement on the city of Jericho – it is all to be utterly destroyed – why? Because it’s people have been characterised by all the evil that you wouldn’t want to see as a property developer, trying to create a beautiful new homeland….. Sexual immorality was rife – with all the inherent pain that brings to broken and damaged relationships, and worse the physical and sexual abuse of others for personal gratification – read through the pages of Genesis showing the history of these people and you see something of the horror of their behaviour. Worship of other gods besides Yahweh was rife – and many of those gods demanded human sacrifice, and so children were not only abused, but sacrificed to appease their gods.

The LORD did not want this horror invading his people, he wanted them to live in a land of blessing, a land flowing with milk and honey, not tainted by the past. And so when they took the land everything was to be devoted to God – either by its being destroyed completely, or some specific things being given to the treasury, being redeemed for the worship of God.

But just as Noah found favour with God, so, a prostitute, the last person you might expect found favour too, and her family, and Rahab was preserved – because God’s love and his judgement go together.

Just as Adam & Eve did the one thing that they were asked not to, so Achan did the one thing the Israelites had been asked not to – he stole things that the Israelites had clearly been told not to, he pulled his family down, because no doubt they had to enter into the lie as the stolen goods were hidden in their tent.

And as they stepped outside of God’s commands, they stepped outside of God’s protection.
People died as they launched an attack on another city, Ai. They were soundly defeated.

Was this to be the way the Israelites should start their life in their new promised land?
No it was not.
And so God calls for Joshua to bring judgement on those responsible so that this new people are not polluted as they inhabit their new land.

When I was at Bible college in 1992 I was put on a placement on the Easterhouse estate in Glasgow with the Salvation Army. It was the most dark, depressing place I’ve ever been to in my life. Buildings burned out. Half the windows boarded up. Over 70% unemployment. The majority of children having taken illegal drugs by the time they’re 14 – aside from alcohol. But this estate was built in the 1950’s to give a new start to people who lived in poverty conditions in Glasgow.
In the mid-90’s much of the estate was demolished and rebuilt – and I remember seeing a documentary on the TV about its rebuilding – and I remember tears coming to my eyes, tears of joy, that these people were being given a fresh start…. but sadly 10-15 years on, things slip back again I understand….. 😦

Fast forward to the New Testament – things have changed….. in part….

The sacrifice of Jesus has made forgiveness possible. It’s made a new start possible.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, says to them:-
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

A new start is possible with our God, through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.
When he went to the cross all God’s anger, his wrath against sin was turned on Christ.
In the New Testament there is a word used several times which most modern translations try to explain.

It’s the word ‘propitiation’
In the NIV it commonly translates it as ‘an atoning sacrifice’, as in 1 John 4:10
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
If you look at the Bibles you’ll find there’s a footnote with an alternative translation:-
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away our sins.”

(Afraid the footnote does not seem to appear on the Bible Gateway copy of the UK NIV)

Jesus took the wrath of God on himself when he took our sin, our selfish, selfcentredness, all the wrong stuff in our lives on himself when he went to the cross. And because of that God’s anger against our sin is turned away as we confess it and put our faith in Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. As we repent, as we change the way we think and start to think God’s way rather than our own way.

For Achan and his family, as he confessed his sin he had to bear the judgement of God.
This new nation could not be polluted right from the start.

For us though, through Christ’s sacrifice there is the possibility of a new start, of forgiveness as we confess and turn our lives round to God, going his way rather than our own.


If we don’t confess and deal with our sin and appropriate, take on board, the forgiveness and cleansing which God in love offers to us in Christ, then our sin and disobedience to God can still have consequences in our lives, it can still take us out of the protection of God.

As the early church began after Pentecost, in Acts 5 we read of a couple by the name of Ananias and Sapphira, who lied about their giving. They tried to appear more righteous than they were, publicly selling property with the stated intention of giving the money to the Lord’s work, but keeping some back and pretending they’d given it all. They died for their unconfessed sin. As the new church came into being such behaviour could not be allowed to pollute the people of God.

Turn with me if you would to 1 Corinthians 11

In talking about the Lord’s Supper, what we call ‘communion’ Paul says this, v23
READ 1 Corinthians 11:23-32
This does not mean that everyone who is sick, weak or departed has unconfessed sin in their lives – but it may be a consequence of sin that we have not confessed and turned from.

I have read many testimonies of people who have been healed from arthritis following confession of bitterness that they have held against others, maybe for many years.

Confession is at the heart of the Christian faith, so Joshua’s command to Achan is relevant to us:-

“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.” Joshua 7:19 NLT

We need to examine ourselves and make our confession to God. Sometimes it’s helpful to not only confess to God but to confess before others. At times of revival it has often been a norm for people to publicly confess their sin before others and it brings great healing as hearts and minds are changed and transformed by the grace of God.

This morning as we continue in our worship, let us examine ourselves, let us make our confession before God and before one another and let us repent and have our minds renewed to God’s way of thinking instead of our own self centred, selfish ways of thinking. Lets thank God that his anger and wrath against our sin has been turned away by the blood of Jesus shed for us as he took our sin on himself and as we receive his gift of new life.

If you haven’t received that gift yet, then tell him you want to go his way instead of your own, you want his power and life in your life, thank him for his sacrifice to make it possible and ask him to come into your life by the Holy Spirit.

If you’re not ready to do that, but want to think about it some more then please speak to me afterwards and we’ll see if there’s anything we can do to help you with that, without any pressure.

Let’s pray and then I’ll hand back to Brian & Jean to lead us on in responding to God.


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