Spiritual Rants: April 13 “A Guy Who’s Really Achan” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Joshua 7:16-9:2 Luke 16:1-18 Psalm 82:1-8 Proverbs 13:2-3

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Old Testament:  Joshua 7:16-9:2

A man was really achin’, he was punished for God’s rules breakin’.

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A man was really achin’, he was punished for God’s rules breakin’.

Joshua 7:16-26   A Guy Who’s Really Achan

Achan.  What a name.  And he deserved it.  The name in Hebrew actually means “trouble.”  Can you imagine when he was a kid and other parents saw him coming, they must’ve said, “Here comes ‘trouble.'”  I know they did when I was kid.  Still do.

He stole some of the booty from Jericho that Joshua ordered untouchable.  The penalty was stoning . . . with real stones.  He and all his family got stoned.  Later Yahweh allowed the Israelites to keep the plunder from Ai.  Achan should’ve just waited and he could have kept all that he wanted.  Although the Scripture repeatedly tells us to wait on the Lord for things, we have a tendency to rush in and plunder whatever we want in the world (cf. Ps. 27:14 repeats the concept in the same verse! “Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD”).  They named the valley after the poor guy, “The Valley of Achor”  (meaning “trouble,” v. 26).

Joshua 8:1-9:2   Victory In Jesus!

Wiersbe says, “Victorious Christians are people who know the promises of God, because they spend time meditating on God’s Word (cf. Josh. 1:8); they believe the promises of God because the Word of God generates faith in their hearts (Rom. 10:17); and they reckon [count as true in your life] on these promises and obey what God tells them to do.”

Perhaps this is why earlier he says, ” . . .  the church is so much like the world that the world takes little notice of what we do.  We imitate the world’s methods; we cater to the world’s appetites; we solicit the world’s approval; and we measure what we do according to the world’s standards.  Is it any wonder that we don’t gain the world’s respect?”

The nations in Canaan were already afraid of the Israelites.  So what had Israel done to achieve such a decisive defeat at Ai?  First, they harbored a sinner who had tried to gain wealth on his own, Achan.  Achan could have trusted God and scavenged for himself more than he could have imagined (Eph. 3:20).  Secondly, Joshua messed up.  He listened to his advisors but hadn’t sought out the Commander of the Armies he had met in chapter 5.  His scouts told Joshua he could take Ai with only about two or thousand men (Josh. 7:3).  When he got God’s plan, God told him to bring all his 30,000 men into battle.

The plan was actually based on Israel’s previous failure.  Israel had been overconfident and relied on their own power for victory.  God’s plan used Ai’s overconfidence against them. Joshua was to send part of his army to Ai to attack and then retreat to draw the people out of their town and fortifications.  Meanwhile, another of Israel’s forces would go into the vacated town and burn it.  A third force was in place in case of an attack from the west from Bethel.

It worked.  Whadaya know?  One of God’s plans worked.  They burnt the city like they should have and kept all the plunder.  They killed everyone by the sword except the king whom they hanged.  Joshua ordered him taken down at sunset according to the law (Deut. 21:23).  Jesus’ body was taken down off the “tree” before sunset.  The BKC states that, “This procedure was done rapidly in order to be completed before the Sabbath began at nightfall” (Matt. 27:57-59; cf. Gal. 3:13).  An example was made of the king so that the people could see what happens to those who violate God’s laws.  The conquest and destruction of the people of Canaan was not random.  The people were involved in all sorts of immorality and were being punished.

Joshua’s conquest of Jericho, Ai, and the Gibeonites parallels the Christian’s struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Ai represents the flesh.  The Israelites attempted to attack Ai in their own power (usually referred to in the NT as “the flesh”) but failed.  When they followed God’s plan they succeeded.  Paul in Romans 7 struggles with his old sin nature and fails.  He finds the path to victory in Romans 8, following the Holy Spirit.  Joshua’s reliance on God is symbolized by his raising of the javelin similar to Moses’ victory against the Amaekites (cf. Exod. 17:12).  Joshua was relying on God.  It is the only way to gain victory over the flesh and sin nature.

Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal.  It was made with stones not altered by tools.  That would have represented using his own power of the flesh.  Joshua read the entire law there to the people.

Next up, tomorrow, is the struggle with the “wilily,” Gibeonites (Josh. 9:3 KJV) who represent the Christian’s struggle with the devil.

New Testament:  Luke 16:1-18

A crooked manager was a cheat, surprisingly he was commended for his feat.

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Luke 16:1-18  The Crooked Steward

A steward is an employee that his boss has put in charge of his business.  This employee was an out-and-out crook.  He was gypping his boss left and right.  His boss caught him and forced his resignation.  On the way out the door, the guy he discounted all the clients’ debt!  He was networking out in the land of employment to ensure he’d get a job somewhere else.

Here’s the baffling part:  Not only did his boss commend him but so did Jesus!  Why?  Jesus was not condoning the man’s dishonesty.  He was lauding him for being shrewd.  In an atmosphere of cutthroats and sharks, this man was a veritable Shylock.  Jesus was not telling his followers to be dishonest, He was encouraging them to be smart.  Jesus was telling his disciples to make friends who would greet them in Heaven.  In other words, disciples should, slyly, use their earthly wealth for purposes of evangelism.  They would, then, be making “friends” for eternity.

Whoever is faithful in little will be faithful in much.  If we use our money properly, God will allow us serve him in a greater spiritual capacity.  No one can make money a priority and also make spiritual things a priority.

The Pharisees loved hearing all this.  They laughed and applauded for hours!  No . . . would that it were so!  They actually “scoffed” at Jesus (v. 14).  They were lovers of wealth and sought the approval of men (v. 14-15).  God knew their hearts and pointed out their hypocrisy but using an illustration of marriage and divorce.  They were trying to “force” their way into Heaven (v. 16) though the only approved path was faith.  The Pharisees would allow divorce for almost any reason but considered adultery a grave sin.  Jesus pointed out that whoever got divorced and then remarried was actually guilty of adultery.  He was trying to show the religious leaders the true condition of their hearts.  Despite the way they “esteemed” the law, they were actually violating it.  God will not let them off the hook at the judgment.  It’s His way or the highway regarding salvation or even marriage.

Psalm 82:1-8    A Lament By Asaph

Some legal authorities we laud, how much more should we respect the Son of God?

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Psalm 82:1-8 Here Come The Judges

Have you ever heard of a judge issuing an unfair sentence?  Maybe they were too lenient or too strict. Whichever, you knew that the judgment was wrong.  Maybe you’ve been the victim of an unjust judge.  We seem to have a rash of unfair sentences with criminals being released to society these days.  That will not happen in the reign of the Messiah in the Thousand-Year Millennial Kingdom (cf. Rev. 20:4).  Sentencing will be fair and quick (cf. Rev. 19:15).  Until that time, we have to deal with imperfect judges.  In this psalm, Asaph asks Yahweh for justice for the judges themselves.

The Great Judge who rules over all other judges is Elohim (v. 1).  Asaph was living in a time of corrupt government (v. 2).  He wanted to see the weak and fatherless protected from the unrighteous (vv. 3-4).  We will see the poor and needy defended and taken care of when Jesus reigns, not beforehand.  We should try to elect people who will act righteously now but should also realize that we won’t see pure justice until the time of the Messiah.

Just like now, a lot of the judges in Asaph’s time were just dorks, throwing their weight around (v. 5).

Verse 6 is controversial.  It was quoted by Jesus to prove to the Pharisees that He was God.  He used an a fortiori argument, one with “the greater force.”  They considered their judges “gods,” literally “elohim.”  Therefore, Jesus was saying, if they considered their own judges gods, how much more should they consider Jesus God, who had the Father’s own stamp of approval (cf. John 10:34-36)?

Judges, and even parents, are God’s agents to keep order in the world.  If they do not exercise their prerogatives justly, they will be judged just like any other men (v. 7, cf. Heb. 9:27).

Asaph asks Yahweh to arise and judge all who are guilty of wrong-doing, even judges (v. 8).  He will do just that at the end (cf. Rev. 20:11-15; Ps. 2).

Proverbs 13:2-3   Aural Invocations

Some people should just shut up, others can have their fill in their cup.

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If we bless people with our mouths, and watch what we say, we will be blessed (v. 2a, 3a).  Bad people just want to hurt others (v. 2b).  They try to devastate others with what they say (v. 3b).  We reap what we sow (cf. Gal. 6:7).

Choose Life: Scripture:   Luke  16:8   NASB    “When It’s OK To Be Shrewd”

“And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.”   Luke 16:8

This is one of the strangest stories in the Bible.  I like it.  If there is something we don’t understand in the Bible, the best thing to do is meditate on it and check some commentaries and pray.

The unrighteous manager praised the unrighteous steward for cheating him.  Basically, that’s what the story says.  Then to make things worse, Jesus makes a positive example of the dishonest steward!  What’s going on here?

Christians tend to be honest.  Committed Christians tend to be too honest at times.  They will spill their guts and tell you exactly what’s on their minds.  Most of what is on their minds might be Biblical.  But in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told His disciples not to throw their pearls before swine (cf. Matt. 7:6).  In another place He says disciples should be innocent as doves but shrewd as serpents (cf. Matt. 10:16).

Conclusion:  We should always be honest.  We should always be innocent.  Sometimes, we should be shrewd.

If you are, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:   

When I was a young Christian, not long out of college, I applied for jobs.  When I applied for jobs, I gave them a resume or filled out an application.  Sometimes I was too honest.  How can you be too honest?  I wrote down things that weren’t relevant and presented myself sometimes in a less than flattering light.  A pastor friend of mine pointed out to me that I didn’t have to do that.  He said it was OK when I was applying for a job to put myself in the best light.  He was telling me to be “innocent as a dove but . . . .”

Are you in a situation where you need to protect yourself?   Jesus was saying it’s OK to protect yourself (cf. Luke 22:35-36).

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:   A Guy Who’s Really Achan

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