This morning the watchman woke around 4am. For today’s message, he was asked to read Joshua 7. He realized it was not a pleasant message but he obeyed. Indeed it was about how Israel was defeated at Ai after a resounding victory at Jericho. But as he read he understood the reason for this message today.
- The Lord is a covenant keeping God.
- He wants His people to keep His covenant.
- He wants His people to know He is holy and sets apart. His people must know Him in Spirit and in Truth. Only by fully obeying His divine instructions and setting themselves apart from the world and its way then they would be able to know and worship God in Spirit and in Truth.
- He shows that when they break covenant with Him they would have no protection from Him, because He would withdraw His presence. They would be no match to their enemies in the spiritual realm no matter how strong they think they are and how weak their enemy seems in the physical realm. They have become “doomed to destruction” (Joshua 7:12).
For Christians, in practical terms, this means:
(A) There are two things to do (as faith in action) before the Lord to keep covenant:
- build altar and give sacrifices (ministering to the Lord: in prayers, worship in Spirit and in truth -His words)
- read and listen to the word of God (being spoken, read, proclaimed, prayed)
(B) There are two things (the things that break covenant) to avoid doing:
- do not hang on to things that the Lord has set apart to destroy (as an offering to the Lord).
- do not take the things that the Lord has set apart for His treasury (do not even put them among your own personal belongings! To the Lord that is deliberate hiding). The Lord described this ‘crime’ in Joshua 7:11“Israel has sinned, and 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; and they have also put it among their own stuff.”
- The Result of disobedience to the divine instructions of God: 1. the culprit will be completely destroyed (in this case the person Achan, his family and all his belongings). 2. he will also bring trouble to his nation (36 soldiers from the camp of Israel were killed by the enemy from Ai, which was physically weaker than Israel. The Israelite had 30000 mighty men of valor whereas the entire population of the city of Ai was only 12000! )
RELEVANT VERSE FROM THE WORD OF GOD
(The watchman’s study notes are in brackets, using NKJV verses to illustrate)
The Bible version New Living Translation (NLT) is used here (as led by the Holy Spirit today)
Joshua 6:17-19 Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed[a] as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies. 18 “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. 19 Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.”
Footnotes: a. Joshua 6:17 The Hebrew term used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by destroying them or by giving them as an offering; similarly in 6:18, 21.
(The divine instruction is clear and specific: on this occasion, the Lord specified a curse and a consecration (a) Curse: the city of Jericho, except for Rehab and all who are with her in her house, be doomed for destruction, it and all who are in it. (Joshua 6:17a) (b) Consecration: all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord. (Joshua 6:19))
Joshua 6:21 They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys. Joshua 6:24 Then the Israelites burned the town and everything in it. Only the things made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were kept for the treasury of the Lord’s house.
Joshua 7:1 Ai Defeats the Israelites 7 But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord.[a] A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri[b] son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.
- Joshua 7:1 The Hebrew term used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by destroying them or by giving them as an offering; similarly in 7:11, 12, 13, 15.
- Joshua 7:1 As in parallel text at 1 Chr 2:6; Hebrew reads Zabdi. Also in 7:17, 18.
(The divine instruction demands 100% compliance: partial compliance is of no effect in the spiritual realm. See the terrible result as follows.)
Joshua 7:4-5 So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai 5 chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries,[a] and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.
- Joshua 7:5 Or as far as Shebarim.
Joshua 7:12-13 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.
(The divine instruction when fully complied will bring the presence of the holy God and victory over the spiritual enemies. Otherwise, mortals are doomed to destruction. Ephesians 6:12 “for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”)
13 “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.
(The divine instruction says: cleanse your temple! This includes your body, soul -your mind and your emotion- and spirit.)
Joshua 7:25-26 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.” And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. 26 They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble[a] ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.
- Joshua 7:26 Hebrew valley of Achor.
Joshua 8:30-32 The Lord’s Covenant Renewed 30 Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal. 31 He followed the commands that Moses the Lord’s servant had written in the Book of Instruction: “Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools.”[a] Then on the altar they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. 32 And as the Israelites watched, Joshua copied onto the stones of the altar[b] the instructions Moses had given them.
- Joshua 8:31 Exod 20:25; Deut 27:5-6.
- Joshua 8:32 Hebrew onto the stones.
Joshua 8:33-35 Then all the Israelites—foreigners and native-born alike—along with the elders, officers, and judges, were divided into two groups. One group stood in front of Mount Gerizim, the other in front of Mount Ebal. Each group faced the other, and between them stood the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. This was all done according to the commands that Moses, the servant of the Lord, had previously given for blessing the people of Israel.
34 Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction. 35 Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them.
(The divine instruction is practical: Joshua followed exactly according to what Moses had written. Every word and every command was read and reaffirmed. He demonstrated to the entire congregation by his faithful and obedient deed: build the altar, copy the covenant, read the entire word of God.)
(In summary, Joshua believed and practiced the entire word of God, according to what the Lord has instructed him at the beginning of his take over of national leadership from Moses. Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”)