Joshua 7:6-15

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. And Joshua said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?"

The LORD said to Joshua, "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

"Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.

" 'In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe that the LORD takes shall come forward clan by clan; the clan that the LORD takes shall come forward family by family; and the family that the LORD takes shall come forward man by man. He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel!' "

Achan sinned. And Joshua was distressed. Joshua's reaction is one of a typical one. It's typical of human to start questioning God on His motives when things seem on the down. Yet, from God's reaction to Joshua, He asked one very important question which revealed a lot. What possibilities do we consider when things go on the down? God offered Joshua the perspective: that Israel had sinned against Him by disobeying Him.

This reminded me of a point that Wenjiang preached two services ago. He mentioned that temptation is one of the hindrances to victory. I think about it and look at what Joshua experienced. Achan was tempted and sinned and therefore victory was taken away from their hands. It seems the logical path but we need to understand why. As I ponder, it is understandable that sins can result in us not being in the presence of God, and can distance us away from God. We may also be trapped in the everlasting cycle of recurring sins. This I can empathise fully. And sometimes, the knowledge of it may really hinder us from gaining the victory that God plans for us.

Of course, in Israel's case, it's more drastic. Achan's sin affected the whole community. In any case, this is what God stood for, that one person is accountable to the whole community and the whole community is accountable for that one person. By simplying disobeying God, we distance ourselves away from the blessings He planned for us. Israel did so. Achan's sin was understandable but not exactly tolerable to God, as we understand, obedience to God is quite an absolute and non-negotiable thing though God gives us to free will to obey Him.

Today, are we distancing ourselves from God in our sins and disobedience? Perhaps I hope to reflect more on this myself. Because only by walking in holiness and obedience can we experience God's presence and victory as we strive to advance His kingdom.


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