September 15, 2008

Completely Means Completely

The moment you begin to think that you've "read it all" in scripture - the second you start to feel like you've heard it all before and that you've got God all figured out - I suggest you keep reading! Finishing my study over the book of Numbers I felt like heading straight to Joshua. I'm already seeing things that I haven't noticed the other countless times I've read this book. But this weekend I read something that honestly shook me up.

In reading the account of Joshua leading the Israelites in victory over Jericho, one thing God has demanded of His people is that "...the city and everything in it must be completely destroyed...." (Joshua 6:17) When God says something like this, He means business. Knowing this, Joshua and all the people did exactly what God had commanded them. Except for one person. His name was Achan.

To make a long story short, God exposes Achan - in front of EVERYONE! You talk about humiliation. But honestly, humiliation would be a welcomed treat compared to what ultimately happens to Achan. And this is the part that I had a hard time choking down. Just as God commands, Joshua and all the Israelites take "Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, tent, and everything he had...and they stone Achan and his whole family and burn their bodies...piling a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day."

Do you think that when God says to "completely destroy the thing among you set apart for destruction" that He is serious? That He means "completely"? Living in the age of Grace - knowing that Christ has paid for our sin debt - do we take our freedoms and liberties a little loosely? It's my belief that God is still just as serious about our sin now as He ever was. So why aren't we? Why doesn't this story of Achan leave us in silent awe, unable to even muddle up some sort of incomprehensible response to the weight of our wanderings? I think it's time to pray and ask God to give us a renewed sense of the seriousness of our sin.

I think it's telling that immediately following this experience God sends Israel to attack, defeat, and destroy Ai. What happens to Ai? "Joshua kept holding out his spear until everyone who had lived in Ai was completely destroyed..." and it became a "permanent mound of ruins, desolate to this very day." 
When God says "completely", only completely will do.

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