International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 3, 2011
Purpose: To explore the cost of disobeying God
Scripture Text: Joshua 7:1, 10-12, 22-26 (NRSV)
(1)But the Israelites broke faith in regard to the devoted things: Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things; and the anger of the LORD burned against the Israelites.
Joshua 7: 10-12
(10)The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why have you fallen upon your face? (11)Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I imposed on them. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have acted deceitfully, and they have put them among their own belongings. (12)Therefore the Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they turn their backs to their enemies, because they have become a thing devoted for destruction themselves. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.
(22)So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. (23)They took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites; and they spread them out before the LORD. (24)Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, with the silver, the mantle, and the bar of gold, with his sons and daughters, with his oxen, donkeys, and sheep, and his tent and all that he had; and they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. (25)Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD is bringing trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him to death; they burned them with fire, cast stones on them, (26)and raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore that place to this day is called the Valley of Achor.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
I remember the first time I heard a sermon on this passage; it was at the beginning of a revival meeting that our pastor was holding in one of the three churches that made up our charge. While I was maybe 12 or 13 years old, I still remember the title of Pastor Thompson's sermon on the first night of that revival meeting; he titled it “Is there and Achan in the camp?” I do not remember all that was said that night, but I remember my father going forward at the invitation, and still remember the vividness of how important each of us was to the success or failure of our little church's outreach into that Indiana farming community.
Over the years the story of Achan has always held a special place in my heart. I realize that today the story probably offends many people. The punishment for disobedience seems severe and lacks grace and love. However, I think the story enhances both grace and love. What does grace and love mean if we don't know what the consequences of not receiving both grace and love in our lives?
Because of Achan's desire or covetousness, to have what someone else had, he decided that God was not serious in his commandments or Joshua was not serious in his orders to the nation of Israel. God had given strict orders on how the city of Jericho, was to be captured and how the spoils were to be given to God's treasury with nothing being kept by individuals.
The question for me today is; how many Achans are in our churches today? How does that affect our ministry in our communities? Joshua and the Elders seemed to be innocent and had no idea of Achan's sin, but, the whole nation suffered for one man's sin. Does that sound familiar? Romans 5:12 say's “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned.” The reality is we are all Achans, we all deserve that penalty of death.
As I look at today's text Achan becomes both a symbol of Adam and a symbol of Christ. Achan's sin brought defeat and death to the entire nation, while his death brought restoration with God. Notice that in verse 26 after the sentence for Achan had been carried out…. “Then the Lord turned from his burning anger.”....... God's anger and condemnation had been satisfied. The nation would no longer suffer because of one man's sin; the penalty had been satisfactory to God. Again from Romans 5:20 But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The people of God are still called to a life of obedience. All sin carries consequences, not just for the sinner, but also for family members and others. In 1st Samuel 15:22 it says, “...... Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice......Better to be obedient.