April 13

Joshua 7:16-9:2

We pick up the account after the defeat in Ai.  Joshua was praying, crying, doubting. God commanded him to get up, there was sin in the camp and it must be dealt with.

Usually when we read of someone rising early in the morning (Joshua 7:16) it means there’s an urgency, in this case, to find out who’s responsible for Israel’s defeat. The tribes cast lots and Judah was taken. From the Judah the family of the Zahrites. From the Zahrites, Zabid was selected, and from his children Achan was the man. We can still be sure, our sin will find us out (Numbers 32:23).

It was at that point that Achan confessed his sin:

Joshua 7:20-21 (NKJV) “And Achan answered Joshua and said, ‘Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, 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.’”

The first-fruits belonged to God and the people had been clearly and severely warned (Joshua 6:18-19). Achan brought trouble on the entire nation of Israel, thirty-six men died because of him, and he therefore brought this trouble upon himself, he was stoned to death.

IF Achan’s family was put to death along with Achan, it would be only because they were participants in the sin. God would not punish children for the sins of their parents or punish the righteous with the wicked (Ezekiel 18:20; Genesis 18:23). It would have been difficult for Achan to hide the burying of such things under his tent without the knowledge of anyone else in the family. 

On the other hand, there are some who believe Achan’s family was not punished with him – they point to the words, “So all Israel stoned him…” (Joshua 7:25). It’s possible to hold that view but a bit challenging for later in that same passage we read those words, “…after they had stoned them with stones.” 

I’ve always read this passage with a heavy heart – to think that one man’s sin can affect an infect the entire congregation! It’s heart-wrenching to realize that one person’s secret sin can bring defeat upon a church -it strikes fear into my heart. Paul the Apostle dealt with something similar in 1 Corinthians 5, where there was a man in the church in sexual sin with his step-mother and the church was proud of it. Paul commanded the Corinthians to deal with it and clearly warned them:

1 Corinthians 5:6 (NKJV) “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”

God reveals..and God commands us to practice church discipline.

Once the sin was dealt with, Israel was empowered once again with God’s presence and experienced utter victory over Ai. Joshua’s outstretched spear held up throughout the battle providing the victory (Joshua 8:26) reminds us that it was God who fought for them. It also reminds us of how Moses would often stretch out his rod of God.

Israel was allowed to partake of the spoil of Ai. If only Achan would have waited on the LORD!

After the battle, Joshua built an altar, offered sacrifices, and  read the entire Law of Moses to all Israel – clearly articulating the blessings and cursing, in front of Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal just as Moses had commanded (Deuteronomy 27:4-8).

The battle for Ai; the Bible at Ebal and Gerizim

Luke 16:1-18

In the parable of the unjust steward, Jesus is dealing with multiple issues. He calls us as Christians to be wiser than the people of the world. The tragic tendency is for the “sons of the world” to be shrewder than the “sons of the light” (Luke 16:8) when it should be the other way around. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 10:16?

I believe another point of the parable is the wise use of money. As Warren Wiersbe said, “God wants us to enjoy His gifts (1 Timothy 6:17), but He also wants us to employ them wisely.”

How we spend and “steward” God’s money reveals a lot about us! If we can’t be faithful in that which is least, how can God entrust to us more? Sandy Adams wrote, “Jesus warns us if a man cannot handle money, do not trust him with your soul.”

Money is a great temptation – the Pharisees were lovers of it (Luke 16:14) but Jesus warns us that no one can serve both God and money (Luke 16:13). Money in-and-of-itself is not sinful, but the love of money definitely is (1 Timothy 6:10).

In Luke 16:14-18, Jesus mentions a few things that may seem unrelated, but I have a hunch that all these things were issues the Pharisees especially needed to here. The Pharisees were putting on a good show in front of everyone, but God knew what was REALLY going on in their hearts (Luke 16:15). They knew the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) but they were ignoring the fulfillment of it in Christ – and yet every single prophecy that pointed to Him. It’s too bad they weren’t willing to enter into the kingdom of God through the Gospel, as others were (Luke 16:16-17). Like today, there were many unbiblical divorces taking place, and people thought they could just go on with their lives without any type of consequences to suffer, but Jesus reveals the fact that they were living in adultery because there wasn’t even a sliver of repentance (Luke 16:18; see also Malachi 2:13-16).

Psalm 82:1-8

This Psalm is an indictment of the unjust judges in the land. 

That the Bible refers to them as gods does not mean they are actually divine in nature, it’s intended to bring an awareness to all judges of the immense power they have been delegated and the way it affects the lives of others.

God was right there “standing” among them, He witnessed the injustice, He was aware of the partiality. They did not deliver the poor, the fatherless, and the afflicted from the wicked.

They had these positions and were even called (in that context) “gods” and children of God, but the warning is – they would die before God, and fall before God.

One day God will judge all judges. This is the prayer of Asaph, not just for Israel, but for the entire world.

Psalm 82:8 (NKJV) “Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all nations.”

Proverbs 13:2-3

V.  2 – “The fruit (produce) of his mouth.” What we find is that a holy heart produces wise words which bring bountiful blessings. But the flipside is that the unfaithful wil breed and feed violence.

I still remember my neighborhood there on Adelia and Garvey growing up, the shouting, the fighting, the stabbing, the shooting. Some survived, some have died. What a contrast between the fool and the wise.

This ties in to the next verse, which is pretty self-explanatory:

V. 3 – Take it from an older man who’s been around a while, if you can tame your tongue, you’ll avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache, even to the point of our passage today – the preservation of life.

1 Peter 3:10 (NKJV) “For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.”

Let’s guard our mouths, or better yet, ask God to guard our mouths:

Psalms 141:3 (NKJV) “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

… but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. “Please help me Lord, not to have a big mouth like that.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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