In our Family Worship time this morning we were looking at the next event after the fall of Jericho and two things spoke to me strongly from it. As a background to it, God told the people that when Jericho fell, ". . . And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. . . . But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord." (Joshua 6:16-19).
Then, in the next chapter, it tells us: But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan . . . 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 . . . 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 3,000 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! . . ." (Joshua 7:1-9)
The two points that speak to me strongly from this are:
1) The tremendous cost to the whole body of Christ when one member does not walk as God calls him or her. I believe that we take the "body of Christ" wording too figuratively. We are integrally linked as Christ's body, with Him as the head. Only ONE man hid goods from Jericho against God's command, and the whole nation suffered a defeat from an enemy they should have easily beaten.
What one of us chooses to do, or not to do, dramatically affects far more than we realize. We saw this much earlier in Joshua's life when there was nothing wrong with either his or Caleb's faith, but they wandered for forty years with the others, outside of their destiny, because of the unbelief and fear and sin of the body/family they were integrally linked to. We may think our little sin, or our staying home from church, or our holding back our first from God, or our grumbling or negative expectations, or whatever that thing is that we are doing apart from surrender and yielding to Him is just about "us" when, in reality, our whole family and local body is affected by it. We are no longer ours. We have died and been born again in Christ. We are his, and when a part of anyone's body rebels or acts independent of the head the whole body is affected, whether or not they realize it.
2) There is tremendous cost in calling "good" or "OK" what God has deemed otherwise. It cost Saul his kingdom, and it cost Israel its victory in this account. Joshua and the people, not yet knowing someone had kept goods from Jericho, had every reason to cry out in confusion and fear and bewilderment. Unlike their parents, they had chosen to trust God and His promises and to enter and take the land HE was giving them! And here they were, routed and humiliated, by a wimpy army they should have destroyed! What about God's promises? What about Him going with them? What about being strong and courageous? How they must have cried out and been confused.
But, one of them had compromised. He had deemed OK what God said to destroy or do otherwise with, and it had crippled their power against the enemy, and it caused God to pull back from them. Achan kept objects that had been set apart for destruction or the Lord, by the Lord. As such, he brought the destruction of those vessels upon himself (and the "family/nation" he was a part of), and Israel became powerless against her enemies.
I believe the spiritual lesson in this is huge. Both as individuals, and as corporate bodies in regions, we battle the hosts of darkness regularly—just look at Jesus' life and ministry if you doubt that. We have God's authority and adoption. We have tremendous promises of victory against the hosts of darkness. The enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus gives us His authority and works through us against those forces, and greater is He is us than he who seeks to destroy. But, when we compromise, when we allow to remain in our life something God has said to get rid of, we cripple our authority and power against the enemy, and we hamstring the chance of victory for us and others we are linked to. The cloak and silver and gold Achan kept must have seemed miniscule compared to the wealth of Jericho—something that wouldn't even be noticed . . . but it cost a nation a victory, and 36 men their lives.
What, in your life, are you allowing that God has said to purge? Is it thoughts, is it entertainment, is it language, is it a hobby or way you spend your time, is it fear, is it a eating habit? What, if anything, have you deemed "OK" that God has said to remove? I know it is not easy, but we MUST not get casual with what God has called us to purge. We are in a war—we must never forget that! Our enemy is real, and lives and marriages and hearts are the what is at stake. We must—we must—yield ourselves to God's Spirit in total surrender because, only then, when we walk in the Spirit, will we crucify and put to death the works of the flesh.