Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 166

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just reread the passage in Joshua that describes what happened to Achan over this. It had been a long time since I read this story and I didn't remember how it ended. I was hoping that Achan would be profoundly repentent, give up the stuff and be forgiven... but I had an uneasy feeling that it was a whole lot uglier than that. It was. I don't suppose anyone on this earth can explain it, but someday I sure hope to understand it. If you have insight into this I'd love to hear it. Not only was Achan stoned to death and burned, but so were his sons and daughters (it does not mention his wife, she must have been deceased already or surely they would have dragged her out and killed her too) and apparently his oxen, donkeys and sheep! Now his sons and daughters may have been responsible for not saying anything about hiding the spoils, but how could the animals have been held accountable? It doesn't mention how old the kids were. My guess is it wouldn't have mattered - if there were a one- or two-year-old, they probably would have been stoned to death along with everyone else. I love animals and the single biggest question I have for God, when I finally get to ask Him stuff, is why they suffer so much in this world when they are so innocent and so helpless against what humans do to them. Proverbs 12:10 says the righteous man careth for the life of his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. That sounds good, and I am so glad God saw fit to include it in His word - but it makes this even more incomprehensible to me. If kindness is good, and cruelty is bad, why would God command countless millions of animals over the centuries to be slaughtered by the Israelites as sacrifices, or because they happened to touch Mt. Sinai at a bad time, when He knew from before the foundation of the world that it wasn't even going to work - the blood of animals would never cure the problem of sin, and the ritual would never result in the Israelites recognizing their Messiah? I looked up Joshua 7:15 in 4 different translations, including 2 Jewish ones, hoping that God had meant only Achan to be punished and that the rest was due to mob behavior. It just said that Achan and all that belonged to him was to be destroyed. I did not find a word study on "all" - but the sad thing is, living creatures that suffer as horribly as we do are still considered "possessions" just like inanimate objects. But they are not. I did take note that in Eden, before the fall, animals were there as our companions and friends, we did not eat them, and even tigers did not kill other animals. Everyone ate green plants. This continued until after the flood. I can easily understand why satan would want to cause suffering to innocent creatures. I cannot for the life of me understand why God would. He probably doesn't. But He allows it, and that confounds me. Any insights?