The Israelites had just had a great victory at Jericho. Next on the battle plan was Ai, a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died because of one man’s sin. Could you or I be experiencing defeat because of sinful attitudes or actions? What did one pastor mean when he warned about where we park our carriages?
Joshua 7 & 8
Where Do You Park Your Carriage?
Joshua 7 & 8:
Little Town, Big Message
In chapter 7 the Nation of Israel had just had a great victory at Jericho. But something happened between there and the town of Ai. Ai was a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died, all because of one man’s greed.
¹ But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.
4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. 5 And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.
6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?
10 So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? 11 Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.
So often, we think our sins are no big deal. We minimize, justify, or explain them away. Perhaps Achan was no different. I wonder how he justified taking what God had forbidden. Because it was going to be destroyed anyway? Because he thought he deserved it? Because no one would know?
And, like Achan, we think our sins only affect us. But, just as then, they affect others, often those closest to us. His whole family died and the society as a whole suffered. Remember 36 men died in the battle.
Is there something you need to see, not just as a minor problem, but as sin in your own life? If so, take it to God, confess it as sin, humbly ask for His help and make a plan to change your thinking and behavior in the future. Make yourself accountable to someone.
Plan to Obey God
Start with a plan to change your thinking by renewing your mind. Make time to study and meditate on what God’s Word has to say about that area of your life. Take Him at His Word, believe He’s right and you’re wrong if your thinking is not in line with His Word (Is. 55.8-9; Rom. 12.1-2; Eph. 4.23).
Then make an action plan. How are you going to respond to that temptation in the future? When the thoughts come, what verse of Scripture will be your “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6.17)? What do you need to do to “make no provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13.14)? “Burn your bridges” where sin is concerned. Don’t hang on to things you shouldn’t. Don’t keep mementos and reminders.
If you are tempted by an inappropriate relationship, don’t deceive yourself by thinking you can “just be friends.” Stop having any contact with that person! Don’t keep that phone number—just in case! Again, make yourself accountable to someone.
If you said you’re going to stop running up your credit cards. Stop hanging out at the mall! If you find yourself struggling with drunkenness, don’t go places where people are expected to drink. If you struggle with internet issues, move the computer to a public place in the house.
One of the old Puritans said it this way, “Don’t park your carriage outside the occasion of your sin.”
Paul told Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart,” (2 Tim. 2.22).
Defeat Can Be a Springboard to Victory
Back to the Joshua passage, chapter 8 is a great illustration of the truth of Romans 8.28:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
God used what had happened before, their defeat as they turned and ran, as the springboard for their next victory!
Today’s Other Readings:
Trusting God When He Doesn’t Seem to Answer Our Prayers
We may not always understand why God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers for help and deliverance—at least not on our time table—but as the psalmist did here (vv. 1-2), we should keep our eyes on Him, trusting that His answers are the right ones and His timing is perfect.
Poor Judgment, Unfairness, and Bad Management
Verse 23, “Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste.”
In the Parable of the Minas (Lk. 19.11-27), we see that God rewards faithfulness. When even a poor man is faithful in what he has, God will provide the return. But even great wealth can be ruined by poor judgment, unfairness, and bad management.
As Jesus traveled and ministered there were others traveling with Him besides the twelve Apostles. He was apparently speaking to one of them in verse 59 when He said, “Follow me …” The man responded, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” This was not about making funeral arrangements, but about waiting for his father to die so he could get his inheritance.
Another man said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house” (v.61). Jesus answered, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (v. 62).
What about you?
How are your priorities? Is following Jesus number one? Do you know you need to be serving God, but it’s just not convenient right now? What excuses are keeping you from totally surrendering to God and following Him?
Is there an Ai in your life? Is there something you should be able to defeat easily that has you on the run? What have you called “a problem” rather than admitting it’s sin? Is your carriage parked where it shouldn’t be? Reread the first section of this commentary and get real with God about it.
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