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Thread: Need help digesting Joshua 7 and the story of Achan

  1. #1

    Need help digesting Joshua 7 and the story of Achan

    I just read Joshua 7 for the first time ever, and I have some questions. At the end of Joshua 7:12 NIV Bible says "God says "I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction."

    But back in Joshua 1:5, God said "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (although it was made specific to Joshua, much like Moses, to the best of my current understanding). Later in Hebrews 13:5 it's presented more universally rather than a rhema word to Moses/Joshua when it says "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." I did make special note of the FIRST PART of Hebrews 13:5 though, which states "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said..."

    That said, it was clear and undeniable that Achan coveted the robe from Babylonia, the gold wedge and silver. It was a bad thing he did to plunder it and hide it in his family housing. I am not denying that or even implying what he did was OK.

    My "trouble" I guess you could say, is the fact that he and his entire family got stoned. It just seemed a bit harsh to me. I know this is the Old Testament where God is not as "loving" as He is in the New Testament (this is a correct generalization, yes?) but what about God meeting us at the point of our needs? What about the part of God that restores us, especially when we follow 1 John 1:9 which states, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

    And as I read Joshua 7, all this was going through my mind. Achan did confess! Joshua 7:20-21 Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath."

    Why wasn't he and his family restored, but had to be stoned? Is this simply a matter of "Well, this was the Old Testament where God was a bit more harsh in serving His judgment?" What about 1 John 1:9? How come it didn't apply to Achan and his family?

    When God said he wouldn't be with Joshua and his people anymore unless he destroys whatever among them is devoted to destruction -- doesn't that contradict God's promise to never leave or forsake?

    I'm not trying to argue, just trying to wrap my "baby Christian" mind around it. (I got saved summer 2009). Just the things I read in this chapter called "Achan's Sin" seem to go against what I learned with Hebrews 13:5 and 1 John 1:9. I guess another question is, if God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore, does He now restore people rather than have them killed?

    Sorry this may be a lot of heavy questions for one topic. But thank you in advance for your thoughts and sharings. I just hear pastors nowadays going "God will never leave you nor forsake you! He will restore you when you repent and make right with Him!" Well, I see in verses 20 and 21 Achan confessed. We don't know how repentful he really was I guess (the Bible doesn't seem to speak to that part of his heart), but he did confess. I was just shocked in the next couple paragraphs Achan and his whole family was stoned instead of restored. I guess that's why people talk about the "wrath" of God in the OT whereas in the NT He's more of a "loving graceful merciful" God.

    I guess when we eventually get to Heaven we can ask God ourselves about Achan. I also guess we can generalize in some way that while God's love is unconditional, there ARE severe consequences indeed for sinning against Him and breaking His law, after all He gave His one and only son for us so we may have abundant and eternal life, blameless when we confess. It just seems to me Achan confessed and was still put to the fire. I also wonder if, after he was stoned, did he and his family go to Heaven or Hell? Perhaps Achan's story is a reminder to all of us to not test God's unconditional love, that just because we receive endless grace that does not allow us to keep sinning because sin separates us from Him. Still, it seemed to me Achan made 3 sins (robe, gold, silver) and it was in a moment of weakness -- just seemed overly harsh to have him stoned rather than restored.

  2. #2
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    Re: Need help digesting Joshua 7 and the story of Achan

    I'm sure someone else knows better than me, but here are a few of my thoughts:

    The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you....The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways Deuteronomy 28:7, 9

    But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you...The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. Deuteronomy 28:15, 25

    So Achan persisted in sin, and God kept his promise with the defeat at Ai. Achan confessed, but not until he was cornered, so perhaps he was more sorry that he got caught than that he grieved the LORD.

    When God entered into the covenant with the children of Israel, his name was at stake. If God were to allow Achan's sin to go unconfronted, other Israelites would have figured, "God doesn't really mean what he says about holiness." And as Israel slipped into sin, God's name would be profaned among the nations.

    We know that God is good, so we have to remember that His wrath against sin is inseparable from His love for His people. For example, six of the ten commandments deal with our behavior toward our fellow man, because in His love he desires that His people live in harmony, and His wrath is against those who want to harm others. And the first four of the ten commandments, doesn't the LORD God deserve all our respect and thanksgiving, and when someone respects himself more than God or thanks another god for what the LORD has given, isn't God loving to judge such a person in His wrath when he could infect others with this sin?

    Thank God for Jesus, for we know we all deserve His wrath.
    Last edited by little watchman; Jan 14th 2011 at 02:55 AM. Reason: more referents than unique pronouns

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    Re: Need help digesting Joshua 7 and the story of Achan

    Achan through his greed caused the death of many people (36 - may seem a small casual number to some, but that's still a lot of people).

    For certain grievous sin, earnest repentance is all good and well (and definitely required) but there still has to be punishment. He sinned against all of Israel and put them in great danger. He committed self-serving treason, honestly. HAD to be punished.

    Whoever teaches people that "I'm sorry" and maybe shedding some tears lets us all off the hook ... well, that's just false teaching. Nowhere in the Bible is that true. How does that prevent anybody from sinning? It doesn't. Every sin has consequences.

    God is gracious, not permissive. He is loving, not coddling. He is merciful, but He never makes excuses for us, and He never turns a blind eye or pretends not to see. Love covers sin, it doesn't overlook it!

    We're the ones that muddle the waters and confuse things.

    Don't forget that God is with us, even in judgment. He had to let the Israelites know His stance on sin and how it was going to be dealt with. There are things we MUST make right before we can go on with God.

    On a national, governmental level, an eye for an eye is just as much an expression of God's great love as the things we would "naturally" associate with His love and mercy that make us feel a bit more warm and fuzzy.

    God DIDN'T leave the Israelites. He saw His end of the bargain through just like He said He would. But it's not all unconditional. They had to learn that. And it's all on the job training.
    Last edited by Dani H; Jan 15th 2011 at 01:31 PM.

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