Thursday, August 18, 2016

Do Not Break Faith.

There's a story in Joshua that bugged me every time I read it. Each time I read it I knew I was missing the point, but it wasn't until this week that I understood why God did what He did.

The Story

It's in chapter 7 of Joshua, where Achan took a cloak, silver, and a bar of gold for himself after God specifically told the Israelites to destroy Jericho and put all of its spoil into the treasury of the Lord, or face the consequences promised in 6:18, "But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it." Because of Achan's sin his entire family - sons, daughters, wives, oxen, donkeys, and sheep were stoned and put to death by fire. It bothered me that Achan was the one who transgressed God's word, but it was his entire family that was punished. In fact his sin went so far as bringing disaster on the nation of Israel, "... the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel." (7:1) Achan's sin brought disaster upon multiple people, not just himself!

The story bothered me and I "comforted" myself with thoughts such as, You are God. There is none like You. Your wisdom is unfathomable. You created all things and You hold the life of all things in Your hand. You are God, and that's just the way it is. Although those thoughts are true, they offered little in understanding why women, children, and animals were destroyed because of one man's sin.

I started thinking about that more and more, praying that God open my eyes and give me clarity. What He revealed has

First, think about the statement I wrote in the third paragraph: women, children, and animals were destroyed because of one man's sin. All I kept thinking about was Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned..." Sin and death came to this world because of one man: Adam. He did not obey the word of the Lord when He ate of the fruit in the garden of Eden that God told him not to eat. Because of one man's sin, all human beings and all of creation are cursed! None of us are innocent. Achan's story reminded me of this truth, but it offered so much more than that...

With that understanding, I read through the book of Joshua once again and began underlining repetitive phrases in red. (I've realized that if God states something over and over again, I'd better pay attention!) In the book of Joshua variations of this phrase come up multiple times: "You shall do according to the word of the Lord."

But it was the statement in Joshua 6:27-7:1 that got be thinking, "So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land. But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel." There will be more on the amazing bolded statement in a minute, let's get a bit of background from the story first...

After this transgression Joshua led a small group of warriors to war and lost. Upon retreating to camp Joshua and the elders of Israel tore his clothes and fell to his face before the ark of the Lord, desperately praying, asking why God had left them. God told him to, "Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you." (7:10-13)

Breaking Faith

Joshua was faithful to God's Word, doing what He said. In this case, Achan admitted his sin and was put to death because he "broke faith."

What does that mean exactly? I want you to think about two things:

1. Remember those repetitive phrases, "You shall do according to the word of the Lord."
2. What is faith? Faith is believing that what God states is true.

Achan broke faith because he did not believe that God would do what He said He would do! He did not follow the word of the Lord, because He did not believe God!

Achan did not have faith in God.

A bit of A.D. application for Christians:

Jesus died on the cross. There is not a historian on the face of the planet that will argue that Jesus lived and that He was crucified. It is fact. Here is were our faith comes in: Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." (John 14: 6) If you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sin, was buried, and rose again God's Word states that you will be saved (Romans 10:9). If you do not believe what God's Word states about salvation, you are breaking faith because you are not doing according to the word of the Lord and you are not believing that what God states is true!

That is a hefty thought isn't it?

If we do not believe in the gospel, we do not have faith in God, because that is our commandment: believe in Jesus or not. There is no middle ground. If we don't we go to hell, if we do, we spend eternity with Him. No middle ground.

Believe it or not, Achan's story has more to it than that!

The Spiritual Leader

Achan, as the man of his household, was given the duty of being the spiritual leader. God gave men the responsibility to teach the way of the Lord to his family. If he broke faith in this matter he obviously did not teach his women and his children the truth about God's Word because he did not believe it himself. Therefore, his family did not believe either!

Men, you have a huge responsibility! Your job is to lead your family according to the Word of God! If you don't, you set your family up for destruction.

Women, with that understanding we can submit so much easier. It is our husbands that will be held accountable for what happens in the household. God has given him the responsibility of spiritual leadership in his home. Let him lead according to God's Word, because it is him that will stand before God, held responsible for all decisions made. Isn't that sobering?

So men, take God's Word seriously and live by it, so your wife and your children respect and honor you as the spiritual leader of the home! Do not break faith! For your life depends on it and so does the life of your family.
I am beyond thankful for this man God gave me who protects, provides, cherishes and nourishes his family just as God has called him. He isn't perfect, but he works hard at keeping faith and I respect and adore him for it.

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