January 17, 2011
Day 17: A Call to Honor
Before we get back to Achan, I realize I glanced over Joshua's response to the defeat at Ai a little more lightly than I had intended. Remember, he tore his clothes in mourning before the ark of the covenant and proceeded to take God to task for leaving them high and dry. I know that I, like Joshua, have been guilty of blaming God when things go wrong. In fact, my family has struggled financially for the past twelve years. We are deeply in debt, even though we've done our best to follow God's lead in what we believe is the work He has called us to. There have been many years when I've blamed God and my husband for the lack of funds. This year, though, God started knocking on my door with verses like James 1:17, which says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
I've begun to learn that my favorite parenting line really does apply to me: "You are responsible for your own fun." If I'm responsible for my own fun, then that must mean that I'm responsible for my own misery. Ouch! In spending so much time blaming God and my husband, I was shifting the attention and blame away from my own part...my responsibility. I am learning that God is as clear about finances as He was with the Israelites about what would cause their defeat. It has been a slow climb out of poverty thinking and bad habits of spending instead of budgeting, but I we are starting to see a shift in our finances. We are still in debt, but we have been in settlement negotiations with our creditors. We still live paycheck-to-paycheck, but we have a system in place that helps us direct our funds where they are needed instead of paying whatever came in the mail first.
When I set this system into place, it dawned on me that our finances would truly have room to grow. Now we know where to put money when it comes in, so it won't be running through our hands like water any longer. We have a system in place that will allow us to save and spend in reality rather than a fly-by-night operation that is always sinking on one end to pay for another end.
I am surprised to be able to say here that even though money isn't pouring in from every corner of the globe (yet), I am at peace. The stress is leaving, and when a bill comes due I no longer fret over whether we'll have the funds to pay it because I've been saving for it with every paycheck. Stress is not my friend, and I am celebrating the victory I am finding day by day as I trust God to supply AND myself not to be careless with what He provides.
Okay, moving back to God's response to Joshua:
"I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction. Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you. In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the Lord will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the Lord will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the Lord will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one. The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel." (7:12b-15, NLT)
I like to think that God was giving this family every opportunity to throw themselves at Joshua's mercy and confess their wrong and ask for pardon, but they didn't do this so we will never know if God would have mercy or not. I tried imagining what it would have been like that day to stand in assembly, having fasted and ritually cleansed myself, unsure of whether it was going to be my clan or family standing guilty before the Lord.
God did just as He said He would. First singling out the tribe of Judah, then the clan of Zerah, then the family of Zimri. "Every member of Zimri's family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out." (7:17-18, NLT)
I'm so curious as to how the Lord singled him out. There is no explanation. Did he get highlighted in some yellow light? Did he turn bright red in shame? Was it more subtle than that? Did Joshua see the Holy Spirit somehow hovering over Achan? I know I have felt singled out in a crowd, but I never knew if everyone else knew it or if it was just something I felt. It must have been an awful feeling, sitting in silence filled with guilt as the eyes of the Lord drew closer and closer. He knew he was going to burn; perhaps he didn't step forward because he was hoping Joshua would read the signs wrong. But Joshua got it right:
"Then Joshua said to Achan, 'My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don't hide it from me.'"
Wow! I am amazed at the gentle call for repentance from Joshua. No fingers pointed. No reprimand. Just a simple call to be all that he was meant to be: "Give glory to the Lord by telling the truth! You are still a noble warrior. You are still a child of the Most High God. You will be paying a high price for your sin, but we will not put shame on you in the process."
I am in awe of such an honorable leader. I want to be that kind of leader. Of course, Achan rose to the occasion and told the truth:
"It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest." (7:20-21, NLT)
He rose to the occasion. I think the rest is a little heavy to end on just now, so I will save it for tomorrow. Until then, I hope that you are encouraged to tell the truth even in the face of dire consequences so that you, too, will give glory to God in the midst of your struggle.
Posted by A Word of Art (Angela)