Upset with God?

Joshua 7 accounts the trouble Israel fell into because of Achan’s sin and what they ended up doing about it.

Do you remember Achan’s sin? He stole some silver, a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and a bar of gold from the city of Jericho. God had absolutely and clearly forbidden them to take anything from the city because it was all devoted to HIM, as all firstfruits should be. Achan directly disobeyed the word of God and stole those things, hiding them under his tent.

Thirty-six Israelites died in a small battle they should have easily won against Ai, all because of Achan’s sin.

Joshua was mad because God had let them lose such a small battle–what would the people of the land think when they found out about it? They would be emboldened to fight against Israel, and God’s name would not be glorified.

But God told Joshua someone had sinned, and until Joshua removed the sin from the camp, God would not be with them; they would continue to lose.

So Joshua and the Israelites discovered Achan, heard his confession, dug up the contraband, and then stoned him AND his wife AND his kids AND his animals. Then they burned them with fire and heaped a huge pile of stones over their bodies.

Yes, that’s exactly what God wanted them to do.

Here is where we hear indictments against God. Shocked individuals cry, “How could God allow such a thing?!” Perhaps they could imagine how God could hold Achan accountable for his own sin, but how could God hold it against the whole family? There is no indication that the family knew what Achan had done, and surely we wouldn’t hold little children responsible.

Before we continue thinking about God, what else might we learn from this account?

1. Sin is serious. We are apt to label our own sins as “mistakes” or “issues,” downplaying and trivializing them. How often do we honestly look at what we have done and use God’s language? I have sinned and “transgressed [God’s] covenant that [He] commanded” me (Joshua 7.11). Call it a lie. Call it stealing. Call it fornication. Call it adultery. Call it unfaithfulness. Call it pride and arrogance. Call it what it is, and recognize how serious it is.

2. Sin never hurts only me. One of Satan’s great lies is this: “It’s okay because it doesn’t really hurt anyone else.” This is total nonsense. The teenage junky uses this logic, while her parents pray and mourn and worry at home. The watcher of pornography uses this logic, while the ladies in his life suffer because of his warped way of viewing women. The drunkard uses this logic, right up until he is charged for vehicular homicide. Achan probably thought, “It won’t hurt anyone…” Thirty-six men and his whole family died as a direct result.

But back to God’s actions. Instead of sitting in judgment over God and questioning His decisions and actions, the healthy way of reading Scripture is to attempt to understand God and how we should relate to Him.

1. God knows all the details. He knew Achan’s heart. He knew what his kids would turn out to be, had they grown up. He knew the wife’s heart.

2. God has all authority, and He makes rules for us to follow. We don’t get to question His authority; neither can we disobey without consequences. Every day men and women flaunt His authority because they don’t like God’s rules, but just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not fully true!

3. God doesn’t act like you or me. Sometimes God acts much more severely than I would. But most of the time He acts much less severely! When we truly understand sin and how it attacks and spurns our Creator, we realize that He has a right to kill each and every one of us because we have all disobeyed His rules. Why does He put up with us? Why does He let us live? Once we come to grips with that, then we see His harsh judgments upon some sinners is totally justified.

Why are folks continually upset with God? Either they don’t understand His complete authority over them or they don’t agree with His assessment of their sins. People reject God because they don’t like Him.

What about you?

Rahab and Jesus

Scarlet CordA prominent figure during the Conquest of Canaan was Rahab the harlot. Even though the Holy Spirit recorded this unsavory fact about her for all time, everything else recorded about her points to a rare faith.

Before Israel stormed into the land, Joshua sent two spies to secretly test the people to check out the lay of the land. The spies went into Jericho but ended up running from the authorities, eventually hiding out in Rahab’s house. She hid them on her rooftop under some flax she was drying, and she sent the Jericho police on a wild-goose chase outside the city.

Rahab’s expression of faith impresses and resonates with us today:

“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” (2.9-13)

Flowers at JerichoRahab stands as a monument of active faith, and the New Testament writer, James, characterizes her in James 2.25 as having been “justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way.” He continues in 2.26, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Not only did she believe; her faith motivated her to movement. God does not seek people who merely mentally assent to Him as God. On the contrary, “he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11.6). The Hebrew writer also mentions Rahab in this way: “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace” (11.31). What was the difference between Rahab and all the others of Jericho? Rahab believed in the one true and living God.

But Rahab is also connected with Jesus! How so? If you check out Jesus’ family tree in Matthew 1, you will find in verse 5, “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab.” Oh yes, this is the very same Rahab from Joshua 2. Among the firstfruits of the Promised Land, it seems God gathered this woman to Himself and placed her in an auspicious position as one of the mothers of Jesus! What grace God demonstrates in this, that He can take a heathen harlot and bless her on such a grand scale!

What might God do with you?