The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?
Joshua 7 v 10
It had to happen didn’t it! You didn’t expect it to be all plain sailing surely – human nature being what it is. Joshua seems to have thought that God had let them down, so he was on his knees with his face in the dust asking God to be faithful! Joshua – the problem isn’t with God, it’s with the Israelites. There was a tough lesson to learn here, and being the man he was, Joshua got the message. It is not God who disappoints us or lets us down; there is something wrong with the human heart. Call it disobedience, or a flawed character, or greed …. call it what you will. The plain fact is that the old enemy SIN always, always tends to spoil the work of God. And in this story about defeat at Ai, Joshua had to confront the problem and deal with it. The action was drastic; the culprits had to die!
Fast-forward into the New Testament and you find Peter facing the same kind of issue in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira. A greedy outlook had to be confronted, and there too was a drastic outcome: read the story for yourself and see how similar Joshua 7 and Acts 5 really are. Both are stories of strong and discerning leadership in the face of deceit that could have spoilt the work of God. No wonder Paul includes greed in the list of things to be avoided, such as in Ephesians 5 v 3, where he writes ‘But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.’
We can get quite hot under the collar about sexual immorality and impurity, but greed doesn’t exactly show up on sins-radar very often. Whether it is an excess of food, or liquor, or the latest in fashion, or cars, or stuff for the house, name it as greed in your own heart. Then, get up off your knees, stop asking God to bless you, and confront the issue in your own life.
For reflection: what we call the ‘Sin of Achan’ is alive and kicking in the 21st Century. Can you recognise it in yourself?