This Chapter is going to change the game for someone today.
Before we dive in, I wanted to give you an update on Rahab.
Actually, Rahab and her whole family.
Remember the promise the two men made to her because she protected them? Well...when the city walls of Jericho fell in Chapter 6, Rahab and her family made it out.
A promise honored.
And as Chapter 6 wound to a close, something happened that is important we mention here, because it set the stage for where we are going next.
Here's the short version of the ending of Joshua Chapter 6...
The Israelites were told not to take anything that didn't belong to them. One step further...all of the silver, gold, bronze and iron were to be placed in God's treasury. This instruction seemed easy enough to follow. Except, well...you probably guessed it...someone didn't.
Enter Achan and Joshua Chapter 7.
He "...took some of the cursed things."
What happens next is very interesting. You'd think God would call him out directly. You'd think that Achan's actions were one man going rogue, so he'd be dealt with accordingly. Except that, just like most times when we do something wrong, our actions impact other people as well.
It seemed Achan had gotten away with it.
Life was moving on for the Israelites.
They'd just experienced two miracles, and were ready for more.
Joshua sent two spies (sound familiar?) to scout out a land called Ai.
The spies returned with another familiar response. "Don't bother sending a lot of people...Don't wear out the whole army, there aren't that many people there."
Except that they got their tales whooped.
"The heart of the people sank, all spirit knocked out of them."
Joshua and the rest of the leaders reacted the same way. They bellowed out before God, asking why he even bothered to bring them across the Jordan. He complained that God should have just let them settle on the side of the Jordan (forgetting that it wasn't all peaches and cream over there.) He was convinced that because of what happened at Ai, everyone else in the area would hear, and defeat the Israelites as well.
And if that temper-tantrum wasn't bad enough, Joshua finished with this comment...
"...how then will you keep up your reputation."
Did Joshua really just tell God...that God's reputation was at stake?
That takes some serious Israelite stones!
I love what God says back to Joshua...
"Get up. Why are you groveling? Israel has sinned."
AKA...Shut up. Quit your whining. How about asking me why things turned so quickly against you instead of insulting my intelligence. Your man Achan put his hand in the proverbial forbidden cookie jar...hoping no one would notice.
God can't bless what we cover up.(*18)
And there it is. Achan's actions didn't just effect him. They impacted a nation.
Whether we like it or not, what we do/don't do can do the same thing.
Our opportunity to reach others.
It's all at stake every...single...day.
Here is a perspective that we'd all do well to adopt.
Our obedience is our sustenance.(*19)
But if we see what we should/shouldn't be doing as just a bunch of rules, we will fail to follow through. At some point we'll find & justify an excuse to act on preference.
That's exactly where Achan found himself.
God continued to Joshua...
"The People of Israel can no longer look their enemies in the eye - they themselves are plunder. I can't continue with you if you don't rid yourselves of the cursed things."
The next day Achan was confronted on what he did. He admitted to it. He explained exactly how he did it. He told Joshua where he hid it. And let's all be glad that we don't live in times where the result is what it was for Achan that day. Suffice it to say, we can relate to the fact that when we go off script with God's plan, we land in a bad place.
Achan's disobedience led to a nation's initial defeat.
Notice I said initial.
Because once the matter was over, and Israel was right before God, things changed.
In the beginning of Joshua 8, God very clearly tells Joshua that Ai will be theirs.
"Don't be timid and don't so much as hesitate. Take all your soldiers with you and go back to Ai. I have turned the king of Ai over to you - his people, his city and his land."
So what is it for you?
What area of your life do you need to come clean on before God?
There's good news.
You aren't going to get stoned for it.
The sacrifice Jesus made for you is enough to cover you.
This moment of Ocean Road serves as a marker (remember the stones earlier?).
This is a moment where we can move forward because we are willing to own the actions that we thought were far behind us. Like Achan, we thought God overlooked them. And in the end...it's what has been holding us back all along.
It's also what may be holding our relationships back. With our spouse. With our kids. With our family. With our neighbors. With our colleagues. And with those we are called to be a light to in the world around us every single day.
Achan was sick of having "just enough" so he thought he'd fill in the gaps.
The fact is Achan's disobedience created a gap. Between him and God. Between the nation of Israel and God. And when we try to fill in the gaps of what we have with what we think we need...we do the same thing.
So how can we stay on script when ad-libbing seems more attractive?
Honoring a vision that is connected to our calling.
A vision allows us to see and make decisions that are connected to our calling, rather than excuses that are connected to our cravings.
I'm reminded of a verse from Ephesians 4.
(v. 19) "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality."
When we numb our sensitivity, we don't feel the danger of sensuality.
Put another way...
Sensitivities create callings, sensualities create cravings.(*20)
There is...if you will...a sexiness on the surface of the things that could destroy us. Until we step back, and look through the lens of who we are called to be. The things that could knock us off course will always have a more immediate appeal to them than the hard work of sticking to the script of our calling.
We all have a calling.
We all have cravings.
Winning the battle starts with gaining a perspective on it.
#GiveUp or #GiveIn.(*21)
We can #GiveUp a craving so that we can pursue our calling.
We can #GiveIn to the craving and forfeit the blessing that comes with our calling.
Forfeit is a pretty hard word.
It means we hand something over.
It means we walk away empty-handed and heavy-hearted.
But we don't have to.
Remember how the Israelites would receive manna from heaven on their journey? How when they needed sustenance, the Lord would bless them because of their obedience? And remember how once they crossed through the Jordan, that the manna ceased?
The manna ceased, because the blessing of their promise had come.
And walking in obedience...towards our calling...is the same thing.
We walk away.
We pursue it even if it's hard.
Manna isn't sexy. It's rather bland. But it's also the marker of remembrance that led the Israelites to the blessings found in the land promised to them. If they'd all given in, like Achan, to a craving...can you imagine the ending?
Times will get hard.
Temptation will come.
When it does, remember this...
The manna means more when you know WHO you are doing it for.
Everyone who needs to experience freedom they'll find in the calling you'll share.
What craving do you need to #GiveUp, so that you don't #GiveIn and miss out?
18. God can't bless what we cover up.
19. Our obedience is our sustenance.
20. Sensitivities create callings, sensualities create cravings.
21. #GiveUp or #GiveIn
18. What is your "cookie jar" that you've sensed you need to keep your hand out of? When you choose to cave to the craving who does it impact besides you? (We need to name them specifically so that we see the reality of the impact of our choices)
19. What do you need to "own", and come clean on so that you can move on? What gap have you been trying to fill, that has actually created a gap between you and God? Who are you going to ask to help you stay on script when you do?
20. What are you numbing your sensitivity with? What can you do/who can you talk to...to distance yourself from the cravings that tempt you? Have you taken the time to write down where you feel called so that you have a "stone of remembrance" to refer to when it gets hard?
21. What is your "manna" that God has given you for now, as you pursue His best for you? When you look back...where are the moments when God left you "manna" because of your obedience? And if it's hard to see those moments in the past...Will you commit to #GiveUp your craving now so that you don't #GiveIn and miss the blessing found in your calling moving forward?
About the book
Brett W. Gould
Author. Speaker. Teacher. Coach.