Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Joshua continued...
In God’s estimation Israel sinned, even though only Achan committed a trespass regarding the accursed things. God saw His people as a whole, and the trespass of one, as the trespass of all.
Ecclesiastes 9:18, “Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.”
One man sinned, but through Achan’s disobedience the whole of God’s people was seen as impure. There are consequences to sin beyond the individual, especially when that individual belongs to a body, and is counted among its members.
Although some are quick to point to the Old Testament and say ‘different times, different rules,’ the notion that sin within the body compromises the entire body, is found in the New Testament as well.
1 Corinthians 5:11-13, “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves that wicked person.’”
Within the framework of this passage we understand that spiritually speaking, God sees those who are on the inside, and those who are on the outside. God judges those who are on the outside; God judges those who are of the world.
What the Bible tells us we are not to keep company with, is anyone named a brother who continues in their sin, be they a fornicator, covetous, an idolater, a drunkard or a reviler. It is not speaking of those of the world whom it is our duty to preach Christ to, it is speaking of individuals calling themselves brothers in Christ, living like the world they are supposed to have been unshackled from.
Our duty as children of God is to make certain that those who are on the inside walk the straight and narrow path of faith, being obedient to God, and bringing glory and honor to His name. We are accountable to each other as members of the Body of Christ, and as such ought to not only rebuke in love when necessary, but be a shoulder to lean on when the road gets hard.
With what the church has become, or what it has been redefined as, it is difficult to understand the beauty of the interconnectedness Jesus intended His church to be in.
Both in the spiritual, as well as in the physical our duty is to be there for each other, feel with each other, and carry each other if need be.
Having grown up in a communist country where at any given moment half the men in our congregation were being tortured, imprisoned, or sent off to labor camps, it was easy to see the interconnectedness I speak of in action. If a brother was in jail, the rest of the church pitched in and helped his family however they could, from bringing groceries, to doing farm chores, to giving counsel to their children if the need arose.
In their hearts and minds, in word and in deed, they were one body, and they understood that if one member of the body suffers, the rest of the body will suffer as well.
One man had brought dishonor to the entire nation, just as by their actions, certain individuals bring shame to the household of faith today.
The essence of Achan’s guilt was that he had taken an accursed thing into his house. Is there something inherently wrong with silver, gold, or garments, since these are the things Achan took and hid in his tent? No, there is nothing inherently wrong with these things, but they became accursed the moment God commanded that such things not be taken by any of the Israelites.
We know what God calls sin. We know what God calls accursed. His word is explicit in regards to what He deems as sinful, what He deems as a trespass or transgression. There is no getting around the word of God, there is no denying the veracity thereof, and we will suffer the selfsame defeats as Israel did, until these things are removed from our midst.
Joshua 7:13, “Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you.’”
Until the people were sanctified, and until the accursed thing was removed from among them, God would not hear the prayer of Joshua. Not only would God not hear the prayer of Joshua until these things were done, Israel would not be able to stand before its enemies either.
It goes without saying God loved Joshua. It was God after all, who handpicked Joshua to take the place of Moses as leader of God’s people, but God cannot overlook sin even among those He loves, or better still, especially among those He loves.
He is a holy God, He is a righteous God, and His love in no way nullifies or abolishes His holiness and righteousness.
Because He loves He chastens, for He chastens those He loves, and because we love Him in kind we are obedient toward His voice, and do as commanded sanctifying ourselves and putting away the accursed thing from among us.
God can be both holy and loving, both righteous and merciful, because His nature is not isolated to one attribute. He isn’t just love, He isn’t just mercy, He isn’t just holiness or righteousness…He is all these things, not just one of these things.
It was only when the sin was dealt with that God gave victory to Israel once more. It was only when the accursed thing was removed from the camp that God heard the prayers of Joshua, and continued to give him victory, even against enemies much more imposing than the citizenry of Ai.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.