Joshua Part 4: Troublemakers

Scripture: Joshua 6:17-19, Joshua 7:1-26
Date: 03/03/2007 
This is the fourth in a series of six sermons on the life of Joshua. This sermon focuses on the disobedience of Achan which impacted the entire community of Israel. We are a family of God and we impact each other.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning, friends. I’d like to welcome our visitors that may be here with us today and I should probably explain if you are joining us midstream we are engaged in a study in the book of Joshua and today will be the forth installment. I should probably say that I need to apologize. I told you I think we had one more study on this subject, but I find so much I doubt we’re going to finish Joshua today. We probably will have one or two or more studies. I didn’t plan on doing every chapter, but it’s just such a great book. Joshua, part four dealing with “Trouble Makers” and that will make more sense as we delve into this study a little deeper. A little background again. We’re exploring the many ways that Joshua is a type of Christ. In the same way that the Old Testament Joshua was the general who led the children of Israel from the wilderness into the Promised Land, Jesus our Joshua is going to be leading us into the Promised Land. So it’s a story of victory and conquest and rest. These are all parallels of the Christian experience, and in case you’ve missed it remember Jesus and Joshua actually have the same name. It was a very common name.

Matter of fact, I should probably say, I think I heard Richard Anger mention this during the offering appeal, there is a little stir that there’s going to be another TV special that ostensibly is going to be exploding the Christian religion with some new discovery. What it amounts to is they’ve found some tombs (they found them years ago) that have the name of Joseph and Jesus the son of Joseph and they said, “That proves that Jesus actually died and that He was buried and He wasn’t resurrected,” and that is so ridiculous, it’s so absurd, friends. I have been to Jerusalem twice. It is totally honeycombed with tombs and graves. They can’t build anything over there without running into tombs. It’s one of the oldest cities in the world, and the name Jesus or Joshua was as common in Israel as the name Joe or John in our culture. I’m serious. It is one of the most common names.

In the New Testament there are many Jesus, there are many Josephs and so the chances of this tomb they found, for them to say that this must have been the Jesus of the Christian religion is totally absurd because it was a very common name. But in the Bible there’re only two prominent Joshuas that you find. One was the general who led the children of Israel from Egypt and it’s the first time the word appears. Joshua the son of Nun, the word nun meaning the eternal one leads them from the wilderness into the Promised Land. The other Joshua was the high priest who led them from Babylon into the Promised Land. Isn’t that interesting? Those are the only two Old Testament types, but by the time of Christ Joshua was such a hero everybody got the name. So people did not turn their heads very much when Jesus walked down the street and they said, “This is Jesus.” They’d say, “Which one?” “It’s Jesus the Son of Joseph from Nazareth.” They had to specify because it was like the name John or Frank or what are other common names? Bill, Steve. Yeah, we’ve got a couple of those. You’ll be hearing more and more about this. I hope it won’t shake your faith. It will affect some people because some people are gullible and that’s what concerns me, but back to our story.

When we left off in our last study the city of Jericho had just fallen. Now some of you have read… I’ll ask for a show of hands. How many have read or even listened to the tapes of the classic Pilgrim’s Progress? Did some of you read it? It’s one of the great classics. You owe it to yourself. Do you know, next to the Bible, it is the most translated and read book of history, Pilgrim’s Progress, for three hundred years a bestseller? John Bunyan wrote it in prison. He begins the book, it’s an allegory of salvation and there’s this character whose name is Christian and he is fleeing from the city of destruction. It’s talking about this world that is doomed. Our world is doomed to destruction. Well, there is something similar that we’ve found as we’ve studied the book of Joshua. Jericho was a cursed city. It was a city of destruction. You remember God saved Rahab and everyone in her house from this city of destruction because they had made a covenant with Joshua. You and I are saved from the city of destruction because we make a covenant with our Joshua, Jesus. Now the other interesting thing about this is the bounty of the city, the booty of war, when the city was destroyed that all was to be consecrated to God. This city was accursed. Now let me read just some of the verses. Go back to Joshua please. We’re going to back up into chapter six and I’ll be reading to you from verse seventeen. After they blow the trumpet the seventh time and the people shout, Joshua declares, “Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction…”

This is representing the condition of this world when Jesus comes. “…it and all who are in it” are doomed. “Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers…” Only those who are in Christ and in the body of Christ will be saved when this city of destruction is destroyed. Notice verse 18, “And you, by all means keep yourselves from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things…” Notice, “accursed… accursed… accursed.” Some things are blessed and some things are not blessed. Jesus begins His ministry by saying, “Blessed… blessed… blessed… blessed…” But as they were coming to this world that was about to be destroyed and Jericho they called it the accursed. This world is on death row. It is irrevocable, it is appointed to be accursed. The things in the city were either to be burnt, but the real money, the silver, the gold, the treasure was to be given to the house of the Lord. The only thing coming out of Jericho that they could retrieve was the precious metals that were to be given to the Lord. This is because it was understood that the first city they conquered, the first fruits went to God. The Jews had a law in harvesting. The first harvesting, the first gleaning of the crops, the first picking of the orchards was given to the Lord.

Your first child in your family, back then they had big families, was consecrated in a special way to God. So the first fruits Jericho was to be dedicated to God. Anyone who took anything from the city for themselves, if it wasn’t to be burnt it was to be consecrated to God, there was a curse pronounced on it. It would be declared as stealing because the first fruits went to the maintenance and the upkeep of the temple of God. Matter of fact, if that’s not enough for you, read verse 26 again of chapter 6. “Joshua charged them at that time, saying, ‘Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.’ So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout all the country.” Verse 18 one more time, everything was to be cursed and it says if they “take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.” Now our sermon is called “Trouble Makers”. If anyone in the camp, anyone in the army took any of the booty from the war, the bounty of the war, there was to be a curse to be upon the whole camp. It is true that we’re in this thing together and what one person does can affect the other.

Now go to chapter seven and we’re going to find out what happened with more detail here. “But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things…” Is children a singular person or is it a people, a group, the word children? It’s many, but you’ll find out that it was one and because of this deed of the one the many suffered. This is called corporate guilt. Notice what happens here. “…for Achan…” Do you know what the word Achan means? Troubler. The name Achan means trouble of the worst kind. Achan, this one covetous greedy person, “the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah…” it gives his genealogy. He “took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.” The disobedience of this one brought the wrath of God on the group. Now you might be thinking to yourself, “That isn’t fair!” Why would many suffer for one? There’s a very important lesson I learned in military school. Sometimes one person in our company or in our platoon would misbehave and all of us would be punished. How many of you were in the army and you know what I’m talking about? Sometimes one person… and it taught that we need to take care of each other, we need to care about each other, and we’re all accountable to each other. We’re in America right now where everybody is such an individualist.

You won’t find two people anywhere in this room wearing exactly the same thing. I’d venture to say there are no two of you who have the exact same car, color, make, model, and features in the parking lot. You won’t find it that way in other countries. It’s changing, but it used to be you’d go to communist countries and everyone in China wore the green uniform, and they all had the same little book. And in Russia everybody drove one of two cars. But we all want to be individuals. Now it’s good, I mean, it’s a great country because of our individualism, but we lose the idea that we are one body. We lose the idea that you are your brother’s keeper. We lose the idea that there’s corporate accountability. In the Lord’s Prayer you notice it doesn’t say, “Give me this day my daily bread.” It doesn’t say forgive me, lead me. Me does not appear anywhere. It’s forgive us, lead us, deliver us, feed us, right? We’re in this thing together. When Daniel was confessing his sin and praying to God he says, “While I was confessing my sin and the sin of my people…” Why would he confess the sin of a group? Because we’re all in this together. It does matter.

Now it is true, the son does not suffer for the sins of the father and the father does not suffer for the sins of the son. When it comes to your individual salvation, but when it comes to the blessings and the cursing that come in life it matters what happens to us collectively. We should care where our brother is. It does matter how we behave. I could say more about that. When Isaiah was confessing his sin to God he said, “I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” They remembered the corporate nature of sin. Now this plays out in a more full way here. First it tells about the sin of Achan and then it says they’re getting ready to go take on the next city. They made a short work of Jericho, didn’t they? They were with God’s blessing. They had walls that reached unto heaven, but they didn’t need to worry about it because they were in the blessing of God. Nobody could stand against them. It didn’t matter if there was one of them against a thousand; they were going to win because you and God are always a majority, right?

So now they’re getting ready to take on the next sequential city they needed to take on in the Promised Land which is Ai. It’s a pretty small city, and as some of the leaders went and looked over Ai after they were flushed from the victory from Jericho they said, “Hey look, let the soldiers rest. They’re counting all their blessings right now and why don’t you just send a small contingent to fight against Ai?” “So about three thousand men went up there against this city of Ai, but they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai” came out against them and “struck down about thirty-six men.” They were dying in battle. “…they chased them from before the gate” of this little city of Ai “as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people” of Israel “melted and became like water.” Because of the disobedience of Achan the blessing and the power of God had been withdrawn from the group, and they could not stand before their enemies. God had warned them the whole camp would be guilty if they disobeyed. Now let me see if I can apply this to our lives in a more personal way. Achan had a secret sin; he stole something. I’ll talk a little more about that in just a moment. He took something that he wasn’t supposed to take. He stole something and he thought, “Well, that’s between me and my family.”

Probably his family knew that he had buried this in the middle of the tent; it’s hard to hide that from your family. Because of that everybody suffered. If he had known what the consequences of this sin was going to be on the great group he would have realized that’s a terrible thing to do. Your decision to follow the Lord or to compromise with the devil will react in blessing and victory on others or cursing and defeat on others. So as you go through your day and you’re making choices each day about whether to capitulate to the devil and give into temptation or to fight the good fight of faith and be obedient and you’re thinking, “What will this mean for me?” Stop thinking that way. It’s not just what will it mean for you. Start thinking “What will it mean for Christ and His church?” because we’re all part of Israel. We’re part of God’s body, and no man is an island. It will certainly affect you, it will affect your family those closest to you, and it will affect your people and this is what we see. They could not stand before their enemies; they could not be victorious while there was sin in the camp. God has blessed this church. I often think God blesses, I think He blesses you in spite of me. I think He blesses us in spite of inconsistencies that are no doubt in our midst. I think we all are realistic in that respect. But I think how many more victories would we have? How would God pour out His spirit on this church? Could we experience what the apostles had during Pentecost if all of us were resolved to be particular about obeying God? If we would get rid of the accursed thing that we might have in our house, if we would be determined to consecrate to God what belongs to God, what kind of blessings would He pour out upon His people? Well, He tells us there would not be room enough to receive it. Isn’t that what He says?

Let’s read on in our story. So Achan had secret sin that he thought nobody knew about. Is there really such thing as a secret sin? When you think about it, there is a spiritual world that is open. God sees everything you do. Angels are able to watch and see everything we do. Behold there are probably unfallen worlds that desire to look into things that are happening here on earth. They may not be as involved as the angels, but this great controversy between good and evil is not a secret to the universe. Their Commander, Christ, has come to this world. They know what’s going on and so because you and I live in the three dimensions we’re confined to we think what you don’t see with your physical eyes nobody knows. But God sees everything. There’s nothing hidden from the Lord. “All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we have to do.” That’s what Hebrews tells us. Matter of fact, Moses had said, you’ve heard this, Numbers 32:23, “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.” You never ever, ever, ever get away with any sin. Now you might be thinking, “Wait a second, Pastor Doug, what about the sins that Jesus forgave me for?” You didn’t get away with it. Somebody paid. Not only does the Lord take the penalty, you can’t sin without hurting yourself in some way.

There are things I’ve done in my past I know God has forgiven me for. My soul is still scarred from those things and not until I get my glorified body and “the former things do not come into mind…” How many of you remember sins that God forgave you of? Do you still remember them? They’re painful, aren’t they? So the idea that you got away with something, you’re kidding yourself! Nobody ever gets away with anything. You might be able to speed without getting a ticket. You might be able to slip through a stop sign without really stopping. There are things that we sometimes think that we get away with in our social, civil laws that we violate, but that is not true of the law of God. It can never be broken without consequences, never! I can say that with authority based on the word of God. It’s always paid for. Someone is going to pay. Jesus paid. You all pay in some way for everything. There is no such thing as secret sin and here you might be thinking you’re hiding it from the other mortals around you, but all of heaven sees what’s going on. You know what I’ve often thought separates real Christians from hypocrites and the lost is who you want to impress.

This is really a good litmus test. Are you more concerned with what people think of you or what God thinks of you? The genuine Christian is not preoccupied with trying to impress those around him; they’re interested in what heaven thinks. They live their life based upon the criteria what does heaven see, what does heaven think? That’s what makes the big difference in their life. In Luke 12:2 & 3 Jesus said, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” There is nothing secret. Now after they lost this battle, all of Israel began to mourn and wonder what had happened. Well, they’d only lost thirty-six men. You wouldn’t think that was a crisis, but the very fact that they had entered the Promised Land, they had this glowing victory with Jericho, a big city, now they go against a little bitty city and they are soundly beaten. They realize they’ve got other big nations they’ve got to take on. They thought, “This is going to embolden the other nations that we are vulnerable. We wanted them to think we were invincible and now they know that we can be beaten by Ai no less! Now what’s going to happen to us? And if Ai could beat us, if we can’t take them on, what about the other big cities that remain?” So this is a real crisis for them. It’s like somebody who thinks they’ve got a bulletproof vest on and all of a sudden they get hit and they’re bleeding and they realize we’re not bulletproof. That could be pretty scary when bullets are flying. Or they find out their bulletproof vest is made out of silly putty.

This is how they felt. They suddenly felt very vulnerable, very mortal and is God not with us anymore? So in the midst of all of this, Joshua 7:11, God says, “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them.” Do you notice the plural nature of this statement? “For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen…” How many people stole? One man. What was his name? Achan. What does Achan mean? Troubler. This one man whose name means trouble became trouble for everybody and they were all guilty because of what he had done. Even God says it that way. Israel, they, them. So don’t say, “Pastor Doug, you’re being a little harsh.” This is God! We are a church body. We do need to care about each other. We’re in this thing together. My relationship with God affects you. How many of you already knew that? I hope you pray for me in my devotional life and my relationship with Jesus because it may affect you. Maybe you don’t realize the person sitting in the pew next to you, you need to be concerned about their relationship with Jesus. That may affect you. Go ahead; look at them for a minute. Ask them how they’re doing. Tell them you’d better be doing okay because it affects me! Are you praying for them? and they for you?

It’s not give me this day my daily bread, it’s give us. And the bread is not just a physical food, it’s the bread; Jesus is the bread. We all need to have that relationship with Jesus and if all of us were as passionate about each others’ relationship with Jesus as we think about our own, what a mighty church we’d have. I think Central is an extraordinary church. I do. I’m so thankful. I travel. I hear about some of the nightmares other pastors are wrestling with. We have our challenges, but it’s an extraordinary church. I’m so thankful for our church, but I still realize the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement and we’ve got lots of room. If we would love each other the way the early church did when God poured out the Spirit… they put aside their differences, they knelt down. Instead of vying for the highest place, they were confessing their sins and praying for one another. When they had that attitude then He poured out the Holy Spirit. One Achan in the camp… You notice it was after Judas was eliminated that God poured out His Spirit. Did you ever think about it that way? It wasn’t until Jonah was thrown overboard they had peaceful sailing. Or converted. You don’t always throw them overboard. You’d just as soon they be converted, right?

Cursed or blessed? Which are we? You know the Bible doesn’t give a third option. In Deuteronomy chapter 28 God said, If you come into the land and you obey My commandments, you will be blessed. You ought to read that chapter. You’ll be blessed when you go out, you’ll be blessed when you come in, you’ll be blessed when you sit down, you’ll be blessed when you rise up, you’ll be blessed in the field, you’ll be blessed in the store, your children will be blessed, your family will be blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed. It’s wonderful, but stop reading there if you want to feel good because then if you go on to but if you turn away from Me and disobey, you’ll be cursed. And the cursing actually, I don’t like saying this, but it’s true. He says a lot more about the cursing than the blessing. Maybe trying to mobilize them to be good by wanting to trust Him and obey Him. You’ll be cursed when you go out, you’ll be cursed when you come in, you’ll be cursed when you sit down, you’ll be cursed when you stand up, you’ll go out before your enemy one way and you’ll run before him seven ways. Moses warned them and that’s what happened with Ai.

It does make a difference if we surrender to the Lord and trust the Lord and resolve to follow the Lord. God wants to bless us. Some of His blessings are withheld because we don’t trust Him and obey Him. I’m not saying we’re saved by obedience. We’re saved by faith. But trust and obey. Faith leads to obedience. Obviously Achan did not believe what Joshua said. How many would agree with that? Joshua said, “The city is cursed and everything in it. Don’t take the accursed thing. Anything of value, give to the temple of the Lord otherwise you’ll be accursed.” Achan didn’t believe him. Can you imagine how he felt when he saw these soldiers die? You notice Achan didn’t die in the battle, but others did.

It says in Joshua 7:12 “Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction.” God says, notice, I’ve underlined this. It’s a warning that’s important. “Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.” Just by chance some of you miss that, there could have been some distraction, I’m going to read it two more times. “Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.” How many of you want God to be with you? Jesus said, “I am with you always.” Are their conditions to God being with us? He says, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” But we can leave Him. If we want Him to be in our midst, if we want Him to help us have those victories, “Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.” Didn’t Jesus even say to Mary, “Go and sin no more lest a worse thing come upon thee”? Actually He said that to another man. “Go sin no more...” I think that was at the Pool of Bethesda, “lest a worse thing…” He did say to Mary, “Go and sin no more.”

He said to the other man, “Go and sin no more lest a worse thing come upon thee.” If we know there is something in our life that is, we’re living in rebellion, defiance to God, some secret sin that we’ve got buried in our tent, we can’t claim the promises and the blessings of God. Now keep in mind you might say, “But Pastor Doug, I’ve still seen some good things happen, I’ve still experienced some of God’s blessings.” Yes, keep in mind God is good. He sends the rain on the just and the unjust. So just because you may still have food in the refrigerator and money in the bank and an element of health it does not mean that Christ is with you. Some of us have been self-deceived. It’s the goodness of God that gives us so much, but are you living a blessed life where you’re walking with Christ and you know that you are in the will of God? Are you failing in your battles with temptation? Would you like victory in your battles? This is all about winning battles, losing battles. If you want to be an overcomer, get the accursed thing out of your midst. You know while we’re on that subject, don’t miss the connection between obedience and victory.

There are certain areas where we know that we can surrender and God then will give you the victory. I’d like to submit some of us keep saying, “Lord, give me the victory and then I’ll surrender these things.” That’s backwards. God says, “Trust Me. Lay this on the altar. Present yourself a living sacrifice, then I’ll give you the victory.” You make what efforts you can to do God’s will, and He can give you the victory. Let me read something to you from Moses. This is the mentor for Joshua. Deuteronomy 7:26 “Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.” This is Moses. Don’t bring any cursed thing into your house. I can go a lot of places with that. You bring alcohol into your house, you’re bringing an accursed thing into your house, and what does he say will happen? He says, you shall be cursed like that thing.

Some people bring books and magazines. Some people bring it into their house through the Internet things they know are cursed by God. It can happen through the television, and we bring a cursed thing into our house. It’s not just your home. It’s not like some kind of voodoo that you bring something bad into your home and your house is under a curse. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. You bring a cursed thing into your house… What’s here? You are the property of God. What we’re talking about here, why I’m preaching this sermon is because it’s in the Bible, is because it’s in the story, but because I want you to be blessed. It’s talking about here they had such blessed victory at Jericho and now they’re overcome at Ai! Why? Because they’ve presumed that just God was with them, they could do what they wanted to do. It reminds me of the story of Hophni and Phinehas. They’re living in total disobedience to God. They’re sleeping with the women who come to church. The Bible tells us that. These are the priests of God. They’re selfish, they’re fat, they’re bad behavior, and they’re vile. They go into battle with the Philistines and they carry the ark with them and they think because they’re the priests and because they’ve got the ark, “I’m going to win!” God says, “No, you’ve got a curse in your midst because you’re disobeying Me.”

He withdrew His protection and the Philistines absolutely trounced them and stole the ark. Some of us think because we’re members in the church and our names are on the book and our family is on the book and we’ve got the truth, we’ve got the ark in our midst that we’re invincible. It doesn’t mean anything if you’re not obedient. To obey is better than sacrifice. I always feel like I’ve got to apologize for talking about obedience because there’re so many people out there, even in our church, who think any discussion about obedience borders on legalism. It can. It depends on the context in which it’s presented. But the Bible is very clear. God is commanding us to obey Him. It’s not a recommendation. It’s not a suggestion. God is telling us, “Obey Me. Trust Me.” He doesn’t say, if you’re in the mood don’t do this, don’t do that. He says, “Thou shalt not…” I mean, it’s just so clear. And so when God says, “don’t touch the accursed thing or you’ll be accursed” He means it. Don’t forget when you get discouraged and think, “Oh but, Pastor Doug, I’m so weak. I’m addicted to alcohol” or I’m addicted to whatever this accursed thing is. God will never ask you to do something without giving you the power to do it. Trust Him. Take the first steps towards obedience and see if He doesn’t bless you.

Now I love this part of the story. In Joshua chapter 7, verse 6, after God tells him what the problem is, actually I got the sequence backwards a little bit. When they lost the battle it tells us “Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening…” Joshua is now interceding for the people. Did our Joshua, Jesus, intercede for us? When the disciples were misbehaving would Christ intercede for them? Is our Joshua in heaven now at the presence of God interceding in our behalf? Yeah. And it tells us that he tore his clothes. Did they take away Christ’s clothes? Did they tear His clothes and make four parts of them and divide them among, not His outer robe, but His other clothes it said they made four parts of them. They tore them up but they would not tear His robe. That’s a symbol for the righteousness of Christ. He humbled Himself; He took our sin for us. Here is one of the beautiful pictures where Jesus is our intercessor.

Well now let’s go back to our story here. I’m jumping back and forth between my notes and the passage in the Bible. So Joshua is interceding and verse 10, I like what this says, “So the Lord said to Joshua: ‘Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face?’” You know there’s no substitute for action. Some people are spending all their time praying where they need to just get up and do something about it. There are churches that are defeated and they are whining and crying and pining and God wants to say, “Get up! The reason you’re defeated is you’ve got something accursed in your midst. Deal with it, and then I can bless you.” And “the Lord said to Joshua: ‘Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some…’” You notice it doesn’t say they took all? They took some, I’ll get to that in a minute. “…of the accursed things, and have both stolen…”

When you take something that is consecrated to God, what does God call it? Stealing. Oh, you know I’m a pastor. I can’t let this pass. This is a great place to just put in a little plug for faithfulness in tithes and offerings. “Will a man rob God? And you say, ‘Wherein have we robbed thee?’ In tithes and offerings.” If we hold back from paying an honest tithe, you might say, “Well, I pay tithe.” Do you pay all of it, or do you keep some back? Notice what it said “some” here. If you keep some is the other percentage that you still have blessed or is it cursed? What does it say in Malachi? “Bring ye all of the tithes into the storehouse and see if I won’t open for you the windows of blessing.” Some have paid some of their tithe and wondered why the blessing didn’t come. You didn’t follow God’s word. He didn’t say bring some of the tithe. If the tithe is ten percent and if you’ve been neglecting to be faithful in returning your tithe that belongs to God… By the way, 100% belongs to God. Is that right? He asks us to demonstrate our faith by returning a tenth. You say, “Alright I’m going to give one percent of my tithe.”

Have you paid tithe? That’s like saying, “I’m going to give one percent of my tenth.” The word tithe means tenth. I’m giving one percent of my tenth. Is that paying tithe? No, that’s giving some. That means you’re keeping back ninety percent that’s cursed, ninety percent of that ten percent. Anyway so I just wanted to insert that because it’s certainly fitting in the context, wouldn’t you say? “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.” Do any of us have something that belongs to God in our midst? God has blessed you with everything you’ve got. He’s asked you to return a tenth. If you still have some of it among your stuff, you’ve got God’s property. What does God call it? Stealing. It’s called thieves and it’s breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Now I don’t talk about this often because this church I’m so proud of. We are either the first or the second highest tithe paying church in this conference. You folks are faithful. That’s why you don’t hear too many messages on the subject, but it’s in the story here so I’m not going to go back to Achan this month.

Might as well talk about it while we’re here. Amen? I just want to thank you for your faithfulness, but there are probably some, statistically there are some in our midst who don’t trust God and they’re clinging to that which belongs to God and are wondering why there is a curse hovering over their life and it may not manifest itself in your finances. It may be some other area, but if you want the blessing of God, if you want to see those victories then be faithful. “Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction.” You notice there are two choices. Rest in the Promised Land or be doomed to destruction along with Jericho. There is no middle ground. I want to be blessed and rest and inhabit and inherit the Promised Land, don’t you? The other alternative is we’re in the city of destruction and we’re doomed.

There are two choices: life and death, good and bad, blessing and cursing. This story contrasts those two. Verse 12 the end it says, “Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you. Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves…’” be holy “‘…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.”’” I’ve said things like this before, but it hasn’t changed yet and I want to be faithful to say it again. We have not yet seen what God can do with His church and His people because we have not seen the consecration in our age they had in the early church. People often say, “Why don’t we see the miracles we used to see?” The reason we don’t see the miracles that we used to see is because we don’t have the level of commitment and consecration they used to have. We don’t have the degree of sacrifice they used to have. God is still waiting. “The eyes of the Lord run too and fro through the earth looking for someone to whom He can show Himself mighty.”

God is waiting to pour out His Spirit and give us great victory that we should go forth conquering for Christ, and the reason we haven’t seen that is because the average Christian is lukewarm. We’re long on talk and short on deeds. We want to socialize but we’re not interested in sanctifying ourselves before the Lord. He says, “You must take the accursed thing from among you. In the morning therefore you shall be brought according to your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the Lord takes shall come according to families; and the family which the Lord takes shall come by households; and the household which the Lord takes shall come man by man. Then it shall be that he who is taken with the accursed thing 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 a disgraceful thing in Israel.” That’s pretty serious! Can’t we just slap them on the hand and say a prayer? Isn’t that the way we often think that God deals with disobedience? What is going to be the final fate of the lost? Burned with fire all that they had. Isn’t that right? There was to be a judgment.

They were to be singled out. “So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel by their tribes…” They’re casting lots evidently and God is directing them. And of the twelve tribes “the tribe of Judah was taken.” That’s interesting it was the tribe of Judah because of the twelve apostles which one was it that betrayed Jesus because he stole? Judas. Interesting. Judah was taken. By the way, Joshua was not from the tribe of Judah. Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim. “…and he brought the clan of Judah,” and from the clans of Judah they “took the family of the Zarhites; and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. Then he brought his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.” Now suppose that you were Achan. You stole it; you know you’ve done the wrong thing. You saw they lost the battle, you heard that the whole nation would be cursed if you disobeyed and now all of a sudden they have the solemn gathering and they’re casting lots and they say “Judah is taken,” and you’re in Judah. You’re Achan.

You know they’re starting to get focus here, and then they take the clan within the tribe of the Zarhites and then the clan within that clan of (I forget the name) Zabdi. (It’s all the same to you. It doesn’t matter.) Yeah, Zabdi and the Zarhites and then Carmi and you know what it keeps narrowing closer and closer to Achan. He had all that opportunity to come forward, to confess, to repent. But you know what? He doesn’t do it until he’s absolutely fingered. Now finally Achan is taken. Verse 19. So he’s brought before him and Joshua says to Achan, I’m in chapter 7, verse 19. “So Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son,’” that’s a term of endearment. Think about it. Who are the two oldest men in Israel right now? Joshua and Caleb. Everyone else died. Isn’t that right? The two oldest guys in their eighties are Joshua and Caleb. And so he was somewhat of a father at that point. And he said, “My son, I beg you…” Did Joshua love the people like a father? By the way, is Jesus also called our Father? His name shall be Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father. “My son, I beg you, give glory to” God. Be honest. “…give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” Is there going to be a day when there is a judgment and we stand before our Joshua?

What does the Bible say about that? Romans 14:11 “For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord…’” By the way, that’s the most solemn oath in the Bible. When God swears by Himself can you tell me any other oath that would have more validity than God swearing by His own existence? If you can count on something, friends, count on this: if there is a truth that you can be sure of this is the truth, everybody is going to stand before the judgment seat of God. Everybody. “…every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Now will some make their confession too late? Even the wicked who are lost as they stand outside of the New Jerusalem their knees bow and they confess what they’ve done, but that confession is not a confession that will save them. What tribe was Achan from? Judah. Did Judas confess before he hung himself? Was it a confession that would save him or was it too late for that confession? You’re all going to confess.

You’re all going to repent. It’s like the sign out in front of the Baptist church. It says, “Do it now and avoid the rush.” Right? Now at least there’s grace. Some people wait until it’s too late. And then he tells what he did more specifically. Notice here, I’m still in chapter 7 and verse 20, I believe. Tell me what you’ve done. Make confession before God. “Indeed,” he said, “I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done…” During the battle when he goes into Jericho and they run over the walls and after all the slashing and killing was done and they’re burning things and they’re collecting what’s valuable for the temple, here’s what Achan says. “When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment…” Let’s stop right there. What does clothing represent? Clothing represents character. I heard someone say righteousness and sometimes it’s righteousness. It depends on whose clothes. The Bible tells us all our righteousness is like filthy rags. Babylon in the Bible, is that good or bad? Babylon is always sort of the antithesis of Jerusalem. You’re bad, you’re carried off to Babylon.

Babylon was a city cursed, never to be rebuilt, that mystery mother of harlots is called Babylon and what kind of garments did she wear? Scarlet and purple, symbols for sin and here he sees a Babylonian garment. Achan represents those in the church who want the righteousness of the world. It’s a false covering. Did it do him any good? Did he ever get to sport that? I mean, wouldn’t it have been kind of suspicious if after they’ve conquered Jericho somebody is walking up and down the streets with a Babylonian garment and it was all supposed to be burned? He never even got to wear it. It didn’t cover anything, but it looked good. He coveted it. “I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels,” by the way, Judas sold Jesus for silver, didn’t he?

“I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.” Covetousness. I think that we have the door open to talk about this. It’s one of those sins that’s often winked at in the church. Drugs, alcohol, adultery, a lot of things that upstanding Christians just will not stand for, but sometimes we actually extol people for their greed. It was something Christ spoke against a lot. Over and over again the Lord is telling them to unload. A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things that he possesses. It doesn’t do any good to weigh yourselves down so you can’t live the Christian life. After God pours out His Spirit on the early church, who are the first Christians that die because of hypocrisy?

Chapter 5, Acts. Ananias and Sapphira, what was their sin? That they didn’t give to the church? No, they did give, but they held some back. They purported to be giving a faithful amount and they actually kept some and they made like they were giving everything, but they were really keeping something. It was hypocrisy and covetousness. What happened to them? They died. It’s a very serious sin because it tells us that our hearts are not really yearning for more of Christ. Our hearts are yearning to be filled with more of the world and it will never satisfy. When Alexander the Great was marching across Persia preparing to conquer small, comparatively small army, Alexander and his soldiers were going up against probably statistics of the Persian soldiers of somewhere in the neighborhood of one against a hundred, but they were taking on the Persian empire. And as long as they were traveling light and fast they were winning, but they won so many battles they began to load themselves down with incredible spoils from the Persian cities they were conquering. Alexander noticed that his soldiers could barely move because they were carrying so much of the bounty of war.

He ordered them all at one place to stop. He said, “Let’s pile up all the bounty and set it on fire.” It so enraged his soldiers they could barely bring themselves to listen to him anymore. But after the second day they were moving so quickly they realized it was almost like they’d been given wings and they understood the wisdom of their leader that they would never have conquered the empire if they hadn’t learned to just let it go and keep on with the task. Some of us have not been free to work for Christ because we are so burdened with the things of this life that we’re encumbered. We can’t get out and do mission work because who is going to stay home and guard my stuff? We’re just weighed down. Covetousness. If we want to have more victories it might mean unloading. They’d only made a partial commitment like Ananias and Sapphira. I want to go on. I’m running out of time here.

Joshua chapter seven, verse twenty-five. “And Joshua said” to Achan after he confessed, “Why have you troubled us?” What’s Achan’s name? Trouble. Trouble, why’d you trouble us? “The Lord will trouble you this day.” You hear he’s making a play on words. “So all Israel stoned him with stones…” This is the judgment day. He confessed and then he was judged. They “stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.” By the way, I left out the previous verse. You know who was in the pit when they stoned him? Achan and his wife and his children and his sheep and his goats and his camels and his donkeys and everything he had was brought down to this little valley, this pit and all of Israel by the millions gathered around. He was judged. He was stoned to death and they burnt him with fire. He wanted what Jericho had; he shared in the fate of Jericho. He was burnt and he was doomed because he had troubled Israel.

I think the judgment of Achan was so severe, one reason the judgment came on his family is, I’m surmising, his family was privy to his deed and they could have said something about it but they didn’t. They were complacent with him. They were accessories to his crime. They knew everything was hidden and they were hiding it with him. That’s why it’s important to keep people in your family accountable to God. So they were judged. And after they pile up this big pile of stones on Achan, nobody knows where the grave of Achan is today, do they? Nope, it’s all disappeared. Then God, the fierceness of His anger was turned away. Instead of cursing and anger, now blessing and favor because they dealt with something that needed dealing with. What happens now? They go against Ai this little city, and they actually use a bit of a diversion tactic. They have a group of men that go against the gate. They go through the same motions as before.

The men of Ai come swarming out of the city to fight. The men of Israel make like they’re retreating from them. they draw them down away from the hill of the city, but what they didn’t know is that Joshua and his soldiers, the bulk of the army, they were in the hills in the other direction and as soon as the city was vacated they came down, they went into Ai, they set the city on fire. So now the soldiers of Ai hear a shout and they’ve got soldiers behind them. They see that there’s nowhere to retreat to because their city is burning and the Bible basically tells us they looked before them and behind them. There’s no way to escape. The men of Israel who have been retreating now turn and they basically came upon them and just swallowed them up. Nobody survived. Twelve thousand men, interesting number, were destroyed in Ai. The point being when they dealt with Achan they got the victory.

Sometimes I have been accused as a pastor of being unloving and unfeeling because we have periodically dealt with people whose membership is on the books and they’re living lives of rebellion or they’re not even making any pretense of embracing the teachings of Christ and it really hurts the whole church when people can say, “I’m a member of that church,” and they live like the devil. And you want to do everything you can to reclaim and redeem but sometimes the loving thing to do is to say you’ve got to deal with their membership. You know what it does?

It opens the door for God to bless those who do take the name Christian. It’s not the unloving thing to do; it’s the loving thing to do. Paul talked about someone who was in the midst of the church in I Corinthians and he said, If you want the blessing of God on you. There was a man sleeping with his stepmother, and Paul said, “You need to deal with that or God cannot bless you.” Sometimes the Achans need to be dealt with. You know what’s preferable is if there are any Achans in our midst, or if there is any accursed thing in our midst, you deal with it. We don’t want to know about it. Achan, his sin was a secret. He could have done something about it. Judas could have come to Jesus before that last night and said, “Lord, I have sinned.”

Would Jesus have forgiven him? There could be a book in the Bible, someone already says there is, named after Judas, but it would have been a real book. And the gospel according to Judas, he could have been a man of victory like Peter. Peter made mistakes, but Jesus forgave him. Judas waited until it was too late. It would have been so much better if Judas would have dealt with it early. Is there something that you’ve allowed in your home that’s a curse? Is there something that you have allowed in your life? Have we allowed something in our church? We’ve got to care about each other and pray for each other to get the victory that God can bless us collectively. I want to see God’s Spirit poured out in my life, but you know what? It should be just as important to me that His Spirit is poured out in your life. I want victory in my life, but it should be just as important to me that you have victory in your life.

You know there is something else interesting in the story I didn’t want to rush past. After they conquered the city of Ai, you know what happened to the king of Ai? It says they took, verse 29 of chapter 8, “And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening.” At evening they took him down. What does that conjure up in your mind biblically when someone is hung between heaven and earth on a tree? Does that give you pictures of Christ? Did Jesus become sin for us? Did He take the curse of sin for us? It’s telling us that they got the victory, but someone hung on a tree at the end of the day and that’s reminding us that that’s how we get the victory is because Christ hung between heaven and earth for you and me.

Well, friends, there’s more I’ve got to say. Matter of fact, I didn’t even get as far through Joshua as I wanted to today, but we’ll pick it up on our next presentation of this subject. I think the important thing I could leave with you as we consider this troubling story about the troubler of Israel Achan is that I think all of us have been a little bit like Achan at times. We’ve done something we knew we shouldn’t do, and we’ve forgotten that it affects not only us, it affects our family, it affects our people, it affects the glory and the name of God. They couldn’t get the victories if God wasn’t with them and God says I can’t be with you if you’re clinging to that hidden accursed thing that’s in your tent.

My appeal is, if there’s anything in your life, especially if it’s something you’ve robbed from God, that you’ll make it right. Watch and see if God doesn’t open for you the windows of heaven. He wants to bless His people; He wants to bless His church, but we need to be willing to not just be hearers, but to be doers of the word, be willing by His grace to trust Him and obey Him. The only way that can happen is if we just say, “Lord, I present myself a living sacrifice. I am Yours. I am Yours. My tent is Yours and everything in the tent belongs to You. My family is Yours. Take my life as wholly Thine,” and that will be our closing hymn. So why don’t you reach for your hymnal. Turn to that famous hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” #330. Let’s stand together and make this a prayer of consecration as we sing.

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee; Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy Love, at the impulse of Thy love.

These are short verses, but before we sing verse two I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond to the presentation of the message today. For one thing, I want to open the doors of the church. There may be some today who are not part of God’s people that want to be resting in the Promised Land. You’re in that city of destruction right now and you’re under a sentence of doom. You can become part of God’s people just by coming to Christ the way you are. So I’m opening the doors of the church. Come as we sing verse two. Some of you may have something buried in your tent. You know what it is. There’s something in your heart, in your home that doesn’t belong there and you want to give that to the Lord right now and have God’s blessing with you, to have Him walk with you, to have victory, give that to Him now. Come as we sing verse two. We’ll pray together.

Take my feet, and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee; Take my voice, and let me sing Always, only, for my Kinga, Always, only, for my King.

Take my lips, and let them be Filled with messages from Thee; Take my silver and my gold, Not a mite would I withhold, Not a mite would I withhold.

Before we close with prayer, how many would like to simply lift their hands to heaven and say, “Lord, I want to have victory in my life and I want to care about my brother and sister as well that they have victory in their life and realize that we’re one family and our decisions do influence each other that we could be one body in Christ.”

Father in heaven, Lord, we want to thank You for this story talking about the blessings and the cursings. We know it’s there because You want us to choose the blessing. Lord, I pray that those of us that need to be warned will be warned, Lord. If there’s anything buried in our tent that we’ve coveted that belongs to You, the things of this world that have distracted us and made us take our eyes off the Promised Land, I pray You’ll forgive us, Lord. Help us to lay those things on the altar that we might seek first Your kingdom. Pour our Your Spirit on Your people. I pray that we will be one family, one body knowing that our life and our choices affect the whole army. Give us victory, Lord, and help us to be faithful. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You may be seated. For those who have come forward this morning, if there are any who have special needs or if you would like to know more about being part of the Central family, we’d invite you to visit with the pastors up front. Pastor White is over here to my right, and I will be at the door. For those who want to have special prayer, some will be staying behind here in the temple of God for prayer and you can join them. Let’s maintain our sense of reverence as we leave.

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