I'm reading through Joshua at the moment and honestly I find that difficult - so much destruction, so much killing - men, women, children and all under the command of God - I have come before the Lord so many times to ask 'why Lord' and though I have heard answers it has been a difficult time. One of the answers the Lord gave me was the pictures that He paints, through these historical accounts, for us as believers living this side of the Cross of Christ.
You know the account of Achan in Joshua 7 - of Israel's failed attempt to conquer the city of Ai because he had taken things from their first victory in the Promised Land. God had specifically instructed that no-one was to touch the treasures that they found - that they were 'under the ban' which means 'devoted to God'. They were the first fruits if you like of their possession of the Land and as such belonged to the Lord. Achan, we read, saw a 'beautiful mantle from Shinar, two hundred shekels of silver and a gold bar, fifty shekels in weight' and he wanted them for himself and so he took them and then hid them in the ground under the floor of his tent.
Achan had seen and he had coveted and he had justified his coveting by changing the designation of the things he wanted - God had called them 'things under the ban' but Achan, when exposed, called them the 'spoils'. In this change we see his self justification - 'to the victor go the spoils' - I went in, I fought and I won - I deserve them, I want them and why shouldn't I have them?
Just as we saw in Genesis when the serpent comes to Eve with his insinuations and lies - Eve reclassifies - and in her heart comes the question - why not - why would God withhold this from me? Down through the ages we see it - in Cain when he wanted to bring what he thought was 'good enough' to God; in Lot as he chose the 'best' land and 'moved his tents as far as Sodom'; in David as he took Bathsheba - so many examples of people who decided that their own desires were more important than God's revealed will and down through the ages we see the terrible cost for this disobedience.
Because it wasn't just Achan who suffered - 36,000 Israelites were killed by the men of Ai and all because of one man's sin. Sin devastates, its corruption, its pollution is broader and deeper than we could ever imagine. God looked as Israel as one people - His people. They were one nation, a nation with which He had made covenant - a nation that would represent Him and when one sinned that sin defiled the whole nation.
You see where we are taken with this - we who have believed in the Lord Jesus - we who have been born again are one body, and each member of this one body has responsibility to and for the others. We are one family, with one Lord, one faith, one baptism - one for all and all for one - what you do affects me and vice versa - sin in one will corrupt and pollute the whole body...........Never underestimate the damage one believer can do when they deliberately choose to reject or deny God's revealed will.
We are living in days of great trial - days where evil is called good and good, evil. We are living in days when people hold to a form of religion but deny its power - when those who profess to know Christ are living for themselves, turning His grace into licentiousness and even denying the Lord who saved them.
We are living in days where the name of Christ is being trampled even in the buildings we call 'church' and all because people 'see and they want and they take..........' You see it's not just things that we want - it's approval and reputation and being known for our tolerance and love. We want to go with the flow and make things palatable for everyone - we don't want to rock the boat or make a stand for fear of sounding fundamental and intolerant. We definitely do not want to be on God's side because that puts us against the culture and the philosophies of our day.
So what do we do? We reclassify - just as Achan did - we change the meaning of our vocabulary so that we can justify who we want to be but still keep the name 'Christian'.
I need you to live holy. I need you to love the Lord our God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind - and you need me to do the same. Together we represent the glorious Christ - the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind - the One who died and rose again and who offers eternal LIFE to all who will put their trust in Him.
We speak His gospel, we bear His name, we are called to live for His glory and to love as He loved. We are called to show who He is to a world who desperately needs to see His Light and we are called to do that together as one.
Until He comes.