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March 2, 2019

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
Christian Standard Bible for 2019

Text: Deuteronomy 8-10
Audio: Deuteronomy 8-10

You can use the audio Bible as a guide to help “set the pace” as you read along.

Joshua 7 (ESV)

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.

Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water.

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?”

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 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. 12 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. 13 Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” 14 In the morning therefore you shall be brought near by your tribes. And the tribe that the Lord takes by lot shall come near by clans. And the clan that the Lord takes shall come near by households. And the household that the Lord takes shall come near man by man. 15 And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel.’”

16 So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17 And he brought near the clans of Judah, and the clan of the Zerahites was taken. And he brought near the clan of the Zerahites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. 18 And he brought near his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LordGod of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23 And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the Lord. 24 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.

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This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things . . . Joshua 7:1a

    Breaking Faith

    I find outlines helpful. I don't usually see them when I read a chapter but many of the commentaries I use highlight the structure of a chapter. In his commentary on the Book of Joshua, Dale Ralph Davis offers the following literary structure for chapter 7:

    Yahweh’s wrath – burning (Joshua 7:1)
      Disaster for Israel – defeat (Joshua 2–5)
         Leaders before Yahweh – perplexity (Joshua 7: 6–9)
           Divine revelation of problem (Joshua 7:10–12a)
             Mid-point (Joshua 7:12b)
           Divine instruction for solution (Joshua 7:13–15)
         Israel before Yahweh – clarity/exposure (Joshua 7: 6–23)
      Disaster for Achan – execution (Joshua 7:24–26a)
    Yahweh’s wrath – turned away (Joshua 7:26b)

    Davis, D. R. (2000). Joshua: No Falling Words (p. 58). Scotland: Christian Focus Publications.

    What a tragic (but familiar) theme of people rebelling against God. But what specifically was the transgression?

    Joshua 7:11 says, "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."

    Admission of Guilt

    After Joshua followed the command of the Lord to find out who did this, Achan answered Joshua saying, "Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath" (Joshua 7:20-21).

    Even with this admission of guilt and wrongdoing, he and his household are sentenced to death. It's clear there is a difference between acknowledging/confessing sin out of a guilty conscience and only "fessing up" after you're busted. 

    We should note that it's not as if all the people of Israel were sinless except for Achan. But Achan's sin is similar to Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11:

    "But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

    7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things."

    Achan, like Ananias and Sapphira, were not guilty of what we might consider "serious sin," but what we consider serious and what God considers serious are not always (usually) the same thing. 

    But why was Achan's family also killed?

    The Faithlife Study Bible offers valuable insight that his family being killed "points to the principle of corporate responsibility. The unfortunate death of Achan’s family ensured that his name was blotted out of Israel. In effect, Achan and his family were given to God in place of the stolen objects that violated the "cherem." The contrast between this event and the story of Rahab (Joshua 2), whose family was included in her righteous acts, is evident."

    Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jos 7:24). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

    Many people believe in capital punishment for "grievous crimes" – and the Bible says "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" (which is to say the punishment must fit the crime). It would be unlawful to kill someone who knocked your tooth out but if they are guilty of murder, then their life was on the line. 

    So is there a double standard with God? Never!

    The Hebrew word for "breaking faith" is ma'al which is described elsewhere as adultery (Numbers 5:12–13). The sin of adultery in the Levitical law was punishable by death and what Achan did is akin to spiritual adultery. 

    If Christians are no longer our own but are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), how can God turn a blind eye to people who claim to be followers of Christ while they live for themselves? 

    If we are consecrated to the Lord, is not not spiritual adultery when we rebel against Him?

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