SERMON NOTES Joshua 7-8





A The Sin of Achan and Defeat  -  Joshua 7

In the midst of one of the greatest divinely led military movement of all time (cf. Exodus 15), first out of Egypt, where the Lord was the warrior! and then into Canaan, in the role of divinely appointed and historic judgment, with victories over Jericho and kings mounting, from the day of Moses: it happened. There was change!  Suddenly there came defeat. In confidence, Israel sent only a few thousand men to take Ai, but they were routed. Why ?


B The Pall on Joshua Joshua 7:6ff.

"Alas, Lord God," prayed Joshua, "why have You brought this people over Jordan at all, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us ?"  Again, he pleaded, "O Lord, What shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies ?" Further, he implored the Lord: in that case, "what will You do for Your great name ?"

If one sees the Jordan as a symbol of the crossing into Christ in conversion,  where the life of God moves in the uplands of the soul, and one is living to obey, then how is this solemn farce, intruding into godly life, to be accounted for ? Defeat! How atrocious! It is as in Romans 7, where Paul paramountly in retrospect of the powerlessness of life before conversion, and in complete contrast to the norm of Romans 8, deplores the situation,

"O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of this death!"

"I find then a law, that evil is present in me, the one who wills to do good,"

and indeed, "the good I will to do, I do not do,  and the evil I will not to do, I am doing!"

That was the very situation from which salvation had delivered him.

The answer is always the same. Sin has sailed like an enemy ship into the harbour of life and jauntily or jadedly shown its face.

"As many as are led by the Spirit of God," says Paul in Romans 8,

"these are the children of God."

In fact, he makes a total division:


"... you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  


Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin,
but the Spirit is life because of righteousness ...
if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
For as many as are led by the Sprit of God, these are sons of God."


C The Lord to Joshua   - Joshua 7:10ff.

Joshua had fallen on his face, toward the earth, until the evening. You will note that he did not indulge in depression, but in examination and protestation, in enquiry and in entreaty with the Lord.

The divine reply then came. "Get up!" Why lie like this on your face! the Lord challenges.

"Israel has sinned." He proceeded:

"They have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them.
For they have even taken some of the accursed things and have both stolen and deceived..."

Get up! the Lord directed and sanctify the people, and thus they would investigate on the next day. The Lord directed him on that day, tribe by tribe, family by family until that of Achan of Judah was selected.  He confessed and his family was put to death, while all his goods burned, including the materials taken by him from some of the spoils of war, money and clothes. In the broadest sense, this is good medicine for sin, to get rid of it, playing with it about as much as one plays with a taipan or boa constrictor, for these are less dangerous! 


D The Act of Achan at Ai, and the Nature of Judgment Joshua 7:21ff.

Yet was this contrary, in the MANNER of it, to Deuteronomy 24:16 ? Each dies for his own sin, not for that of another, and the principle was later greatly emphasised in Jeremiah 31:23-30. How then were all the family slain ?

Firstly, it is not said that any were children, and it seems that by this time Achan was not young. Secondly, it is entirely possible that all the household were aware of the action. Thirdly, all the army was jeopardised, and already no less than 36 men had been killed in the battle as a result of the evil of Achan, before the presence of the Lord. Further, the name of the Lord had been injured, and the entire invasion had suffered a serious affront which could destabilise it except for divine aid. Indeed, one remembers what the spies found in Jericho, how their reputation had left little courage in the inhabitants. What then now ?

We assume therefore that the law was kept, since Joshua was in great zeal (Joshua 1:8), and could hardly believe the set back; and thus this becomes not an ethical quagmire but a testimony to the zeal with which one must sever from what is wrong, repent if caught or trapped, and be diligent, and not wander. In this case, it is worthy of interest that in the Uniting Church a development has occurred concerning their willingness to have practising homosexuals in the pulpit.

One group, which has formed into a body, the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, we learn, has had enough. They are seeking a measure of separation - after YEARS OF NOT ACTING under this iniquity.

SOME  MEASURE ? Did Joshua impart some measure of affliction to Achan ? Did Christ consider Judas had some measure of being a devil ? Is breaking of stated and crucial commandment in some measure wrong ? By report in The Advertiser, July 16, 2006, a leader in the Uniting Church expressed horror, it seems, at the very idea that they were at all straying from apostolic Christianity, and hoped no such thought would enter anyone's mind! Mere flat contradiction of commandments which is entailed, for those who follow this line, EXCLUSION from the kingdom, this is catholic, universal Christianity ?

What a horrible defilement of the word of God is this, and who is this that can as if God,  dismiss the foundation and sitting in air, announce a new way in His very name! Yet such is the way nowadays of many churches, revisionists who forget the message of Matthew 5:17ff., Ephesians 1:10, and I Corinthians 2:9-13, 14:37.

You have two foundations perhaps for twin towers, but no other foundation can any man lay but Jesus Christ, not a word, but a person, not for imagination and cultural accretion (Mark 7:7ff., I Corinthians 3:11, II Corinthians 11), but for trust and obedience to Him as Lord (John 14:21ff.). Christ created the church; it does not run Him. He is its LORD!

Thus in I Corinthians 6:9, we learn that those practising such things endorsed by this united body,  DO NOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Imagine being told by someone who could not get up a mountain, how to climb! Or does Paul suggest some attenuation of contact with sin ? Do you want to join members of  Christ to a harlot ? he asks in this some arena (I Cor. 6:15ff.). Don't you realise that you are the body of Christ! What then of a pastor, united to a harlot, or in a homosexual parallel! Paul places both in the same exclusion zone as ways of life in I Cor. 5-6, and as precisely in the area for which law is designed in I Timothy 1:10, namely for the 'lawless' the 'disobedient' the 'ungodly', examples of which, including this, follow. 

Those who call themselves brethren and practise such things ? with these you should not even keep company (I Cor. 5:11, Ephesians 5:11, Romans 16:17, I Timothy 6:3-5), should withdraw, rather rebuking! (see Separation).  It is apostolically, yes biblically necessary NOT to retain ANY degree of fellowship in such cases, and thus that Uniting Church body which wants only partly to separate, remains wholly in shame, until it does. What is written counts. Holy sounds do not make holy walk, and disobedience is not the way to walk with the Lord. Ask Achan! Watch Joshua! Consider his vast anguish at the defeat...


E   The Fall of Ai and the Arising in the Covenantal Faith Joshua 8

Joshua, appalled, enabled, restoring righteousness, had ACTED! He did not lie in the dust as those might who continue to be defiled by the forbidden thing. He did not form an Assembly of Confessing Tribes, for those interested to draw a little apart. He purged the evil and proceeded with the right.

Then it happened.

Purged and repentant, directed by the Lord this time to take ALL the people of war to the task, Israel was led to ambush the city, with men in hiding, rushing in when the people came out to meet the main body of Israel. Looking behind them as they sallied forth, they saw the smoke of the burning city, and fled. The danger of contamination was thus overcome. Sacrifice was made to the Lord, and the law of Moses written on stone before all the people. Is this the way of modern churchianity ?

The law seems to be written on water for many church bodies, which fulfil the prediction of II Peter 2. Let the people of the Lord however continue in their spiritual mission, in their divinely led crusade in this world,  not this time in a military manner, but meek, yet for all that engaged in a spiritual warfare, with boldness proclaiming the Gospel and watching in prayer (Ephesians 6).

Remember the tremendous scope of that prayer - Ephesians 6:18, and its efficacy, and consider the depth of the entreaties of Joshua when the failure came, and the power to prevail which is covenanted to the people of God for the purposes of His will (Mark 11:23ff., Ephesians 1:19ff.).