For those of you who think that the Bible is a useless, antiquated amalgam of fairy tales, cute anecdotes, or histories, which have no bearing on life in this day and age, think again.
We see the repetitions of our mistakes as a race of human beings time and again and we wonder why. We fail to see the cycles of time that go round and round ad infinitum without seeing that the curly cues of time are also making a giant circle of time that is returning us to our starting point. Disagree if you like, but there exists more evidence of this in Scripture than anywhere else in literature. I challenge you to prove otherwise.
Here is a mistake we see repeated time and again each day. In my line of work in community corrections, many dozens of times each day, following a pattern we see in Scripture which began in the Garden of Eden. It is a fascinating study and one that should concern you. It is based on that ancient sin of covetousness and is predicated upon our belief that we can think and do things without detection and bring ourselves to complete justification for our poor decisions.
As a dad, I am especially concerned that covetous actions which I have tried to dismiss in my own life may have rubbed off on my only son. Disastrous, if I want him to grow into the Godly man my Father expects me to raise. He will be 18 in three weeks and I pray I haven’t wasted too much time. I know I could have done many things better than I have.
About 3,500 years ago a man, a soldier, a father, and a husband named Achan coveted a few things he found amid the ruins of Jericho. There he was, with many thousands of other soldiers putting the enemies of God to the sword when he found pieces of gold, silver, and a beautiful robe from Babylon.
Get this: God promised Joshua that if he and his people remained obedient and followed His Word to the letter that God would deliver all the wealth of Canaan to Israel. As one of the leaders of this army, Achan would have heard this word from one of the tribal elders and would have agreed to it the previous day. When the walls came down with the “Shout that was heard round the world”, all Achan had to do was keep his promise. Everything after Jericho was Israel’s for the taking. But God reserved all that was in Jericho for His treasury.
The things Achan coveted, he took, he secreted them away, and swore his family to secrecy, as well. I think his biggest mistake began in his mind and went directly to his eyes. What if he had not looked twice? Would he have taken the forbidden things? I don’t think so.
How many times have I looked twice at things that don’t belong to me, wanting them for myself, fantasizing about them, giving them more than just a passing thought or putting myself in a position to be closer to the objects of my craving? How many times have you?
Ugly thought, isn’t it? Here’s an ironic thing: Achan’s name in Hebrew means TROUBLE. And how! He involved his family in the conspiracy, polluting the entire camp of some 2 millions people. The place where God’s presence was. Feeding them, ministering to them, guiding them and blessing them mightily every day. Making their enemies live in paralyzing fear.
Until the next battle at Ai-the Place of Ruin.
A short time later, after the tremendous victory at Jericho, after the conspiracy had infected the camp, a strong military force of 3,000 took on a numerically inferior force and lost! Why? It wasn’t that the army of Ai was stronger than the Israeli force. It wasn’t. The soldiers of the Israeli army had been weakened tremendously because of the conspiracy and hidden sin begun by Achan acting out on his covetousness.
This could be any house anywhere in the world at any given time. Trouble brings ruin, when it is persistent and unaddressed. Can you afford to leave hidden sin in your life. Don’t bet on it. It is the most ancient mistake in mankind’s colossal arsenal of stupidity. That and a profound affinity for justifying our poor thoughts and deeds.
The good news in all this won’t sound so good to many of you but if you recognize it now, you can do something to get the rest of your life right without meeting Achan and his family’s fate.
After getting found out and exposed to all the people by Joshua and the Chief Priest, Achan and his entire family of co-conspirators were stoned to death, and burned, along with all of his property about halfway between Ai, the Place of Ruin, and Beth-El, the City of God. Appropriate names aren’t they? We’re pretty much there all our lives. Half way between ruin and our loving, forgiving God. Achan was given time to come clean on his own but he maintained the secrecy. God had to clean house. He did.
I pray that if you are on a ruinous course, whatever it is, turn away! The ancient word for this is repent. Turn from ruin and run to the God who loves you, whoever you are. There is still time.