06 Aug Histo-Ray Joshua Chapter 7 – Commentary by Ray Moore
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Sermon: Sometimes the Best Laid Plans
Date: August 9, 2015
JOSHUA CHAPTER 7 “TROUBLE IN THE VALLEY”
“Our sense of sin is in direct proportion to our nearness to God.” Thomas D. Bernard
After their great success at Jericho, the last thing Israel expected was defeat. But sin by one person always harms the corporate body. The story of Achan is a continuing reminder that sin’s consequences go far beyond the person who sins.
Joshua 7:1-9 Failure Brings Humility
Verses 1-2 It started when the walls of Jericho fell. What a victory! Israel was on a spiritual, emotional and military high. Taking the Promised Land was going to be a piece of cake. Next stop, Ai—a small fortress only 2 miles from Jericho but strategic to the conquest of the land. The importance of Israel’s defeat at Ai raises a huge red flag about God’s attitude towards sin. The first word of Chapter 7 gives us a warning, what is it? BUT.
Only one soldier gave in to temptation but even that didn’t escape God’s notice. God considered them collectively responsible and withheld His blessing until the matter was made right. This same principle appears in the New Testament where Paul warns that sin in the church can contaminate the whole assembly. “Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?” (1 Corinthians 5:6)
Verses 3-5 Why did the Israelites lose the battle at Ai? Overconfidence, no evidence of prayer before the battle and operating with unknown disobedience in the camp.
Ai was much smaller—only a few thousand warriors, but the text is clear, the Israelites were “routed by the men of Ai.” When the report came back, “the hearts of the people melted and became like water.” Note: We are most vulnerable to spiritual defeat right after a great spiritual victory.
Verses 6-9 Failure brought humiliation not only to Israel, but to Joshua himself. He “tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening.” God’s words to Joshua in Chapter 1 about being courageous and unafraid seemed to melt away with the hearts of the people. He forgot God’s promises and seemed more concerned about Israel’s reputation as a nation than he was with God’s reputation and name.
Joshua 7:10-18 Failure Requires Accountability
Verses 10-12 God wasted no time responding to Joshua and his language was less than gentle. How often we try to blame God for our own problems and then realize they have arisen from our own failures and sins.
The law of the “devoted things” had been violated. God’s threat was frightening, “I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” Didn’t God make a covenant with Israel? Yes he did and this portion of the covenant He made through Moses that referred to the annihilation of the Canaanites. (Deuteronomy 20:10-20)
Verses 13-15 Why didn’t God just tell Joshua who was guilty and not go through this whole process? All Israel needed to search their hearts and learn from this tragedy. No person was allowed to stand by without feeling the fear of God. Perhaps Joshua realized God was giving the guilty the opportunity to repent but no one came to him that night or the next day.
Verses 16-18 Finally the time for the tribe of Judea comes and Achan himself. The family came forward “man by man, and Achan son of Carmi” was caught.
Joshua 7:19-26 Failure Demands Punishment
Verses 19-21 Achan stands before Joshua who asks, “Tell me why you have done this.” Then Achan explains the progress of sin—He saw, he coveted and he took. Amazingly these same three verbs appear in the account of the fall in Genesis chapter 3. Achan’s loot consisted of three items, a robe, 200 shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing 50 shekels. With Achan’s confession, why didn’t he receive forgiveness? Because there was no evidence of repentance and his confession was forced.
Verses 22-23 The stolen items were brought to the center of the camp “and spread out before the Lord.”
verses 24-26 Although they had been warned not to take anything, Achan disobeyed God and ignored the warning. He didn’t trust God’s provision and didn’t believe God’s warning.
Was this judgment harsh? God had extended His grace by giving them a warning in advance and also giving Achan time to come forward.
Joshua takes everything to the Valley of Achor, Achan, the plunder, “his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had” and destroyed them.
The pile of rocks memorializing the horror of the even became the Valley of Disaster.
Small things can really add up. Achan’s sin infected his whole family and put the nation of Israel in direct peril. The hidden cost of sin is enormous.
Let’s consider something as small as the dollar bill. Our nation is several trillion dollars in debt. It had to start out with a few dollars and now it puts the whole nation is financial peril. We tend to underestimate the significance of a little start and how it needs to be stopped when initiated. Let’s look at one trillion seconds as an example.
1. No person alive has lived 1 trillion seconds
2. This country has not existed 1 trillion seconds
3. Western civilization has not existed 1 trillion seconds
4. 1 trillion seconds is approximately 31,688 years
Hidden costs. Imagine how many churches try to seek God’s blessing and move forward while hidden costs hamper their spiritual and numerical growth.
This chapter deals with sin, punishment, failure and how the omniscient God knows all about it. While we can’t fathom 1 billion of anything, God knows every dime and second and our every thought and holds us accountable for our violation of His Word and will.