"Snippets" from David

Joy Turned to Sorrow

The gateway to Canaan fell!  The vulnerability of the territory to become Israel’s land increased!  Before Jericho fell, the area trembled at the thought of war with Israel [not because of the strength of Israel’s army, but because of the way God acted on Israel’s behalf] (Joshua 2:9-11).  After Jericho fell to Israel, the terror of the people who lived in Canaan intensified (Joshua 6:27).

 Among God’s instruction concerning Jericho was this: everything captured in that city is under ban (Joshua 6:17-21, 24; 7:1).  In ancient Israel the ban usually meant more than one thing: (1) no Israelite was to take anything from the destroyed city for personal benefit; (2) all living things in the city were to be killed; (3) anything taken from the fallen city [usually metal objects] was to be devoted to God by placing them in the tabernacle.  The ban was a flexible instrument used in some form to honor God.  It was a way to dedicate a victory to God as the power behind the victory, to honor God in the defeat of an enemy, and to declare dependence on God.  It also was a means of funding the work of the Holy Site of national worship [ancient Israel’s form of national worship was expensive to maintain].  Thus, in ancient Israel, the fall of an important idolatrous city accomplished two things through a ban: (1) it did not have an adverse spiritual influence on Israel by encouraging idolatry, and (2) it honored God as the power enabling the blessing of victory.

The concept of the ban was not restricted to the conquest of Jericho.  In ancient sources outside Old Testament records, it is known to exist in other ancient cultures also.  It was seen in ancient Israel on several occasions even generations later.  For example, one of the reasons God rejected King Saul was his failure to observe God’s ban when conquering the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15).

Jericho was an important city that guarded Canaan against invaders coming from the “other side” of the Jordan River near a convenient crossing.  Ai, compared to Jericho, was a small city.  While both had strategic significance, Ai likely did not have the symbolic significance of Jericho.  While both were significant cities, it was true that if Israel could defeat Jericho, defeating Ai should be simple.

However, a warrior named Achan broke God’s ban in Jericho and angered God.  When Achan saw a beautiful mantle, two hundred pieces of silver, and a gold bar, greed caused him to forget God’s instructions.  He took those objects and buried them in his tent.

Joshua was told Ai would be easily defeated.  The whole Israelite army was not needed.  So Joshua sent only 3000 men to capture Ai.  However, those men fled from the defenders of Ai, and a few were killed.

The defeat caused Joshua to be extremely distraught.  After a time of grief before the ark of the Lord, he asked God, “Why did You let us cross the Jordan River to be destroyed?  We should never have crossed the river!” (Joshua 7:7)  His concern was that the people living in Canaan would lose their fear of Israel and become bold.  In Joshua’s mind, it was this fear, not God, that was the key to Israel’s victory.  God told Joshua and those that mourned with him, “Get up!  The problem is not the defeat, but the fact there is sin among you.”

 God said the man who defied His ban and all that belonged to him should be destroyed (Joshua 7:15).  He was, and as a result his family and his livestock were killed, and his possessions were destroyed.  A stoning, burning, and burial under to mound of stones were all a part of Achan’s destruction.  Before his execution, Joshua referred to him as the one who brought trouble to Israel.

Give attention to four lessons.  (1) The key to success—in success or tragedy—is God [and certainly not greed in any form!].  (2) What we hide is never hidden from God.  (3) Too often we fail to see the actual problem.  (4) Our moral failures can affect or destroy a lot of lives who did not participate in our initial immoral act.

 If life is not what you want or like, do not waste “now” because of what you fear in the future.  If you do, you will not change the future, and you will waste “now.”  As you choose a direction for your life, take care to focus on real problems, not fear problems.

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