Joshua: “Winning… NOT”

Joshua • “Winning…NOT”

Joshua 7

October 30-November 3, 2017

 
The University of Oklahoma won 47 straight games from 1953-1957until the streak was ended by Notre Dame. Joe DiMaggio had a 56 consecutive game hitting streak May 15-July 17, 1941that was ended by the Cleveland Indians.

 

An article in SportsDay HS by staff writer Avi Zaleon in 2015 sums up high school football in our town.

 

It has been seven years since Celina’s last state title. In most communities, a championship every seven years -or even every 17 years- is considered a blessing. In Celina, seven years is a drought.

“Honestly, they expect you to win every game you play,” said Celina assistant coach Josh Sharrock, who played while Celina was in the midst of its 68-game winning streak from 1998-2002.

At some programs, it’s an accomplishment to make the playoffs. At others, maybe advancing three rounds in the postseason gets you a pat on the back. But Celina is in a very small, elite group of Texas high school football programs where anything less than a state title makes the entire season a shoulder shrug.

 

“They set a very high expectation for their kids because of the success we’ve had,” Celina head coach Bill Elliot said. “They expect the kids and the coaches to do well every year. That puts a little pressure on you, but you wouldn’t want it any other way.”

 

Winning streaks are amazing to watch in any sport. Winning streaks are something that we here in Celina are accustomed to in football. Over a 4-year period, we won four state championships and had a 68 games in a row winning streak, until a play-off loss to Dangerfield. Watching a team on a winning streak and being a part of a winning streak is fun, but they eventually come to an end and the loss hurts because no one likes losing…and then there are stories about men like these. Notorious failures fallen from grace and ministry:

C.A. Roberts, Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Bakker, Billy Weber, Todd B., Bruce S., King David, Adam and Eve and in our story today, Achan. All had winning streaks broken by willful sin. All of them believed they could hide from God, or else that the rules somehow did not apply to them. Their reputations and ministries were kicked to the curb and left on the ash heap of history. As the scripture says,

23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.

Numbers 32:23.

 

Not a single one of these guys thought God would ever call them to account…and yet

13 Why do the wicked get away with despising God? They think, “God will never call us to account.” 14 But you see the trouble and grief they cause. You take note of it and punish them.

Psalm 10:13-14

 

These men were giants in Christian ministry, but succumbed to temptations of the flesh.

 

MONDAY: Winning Streak Comes To An End

For the last several weeks, we’ve been in this study of Joshua entitled,

Winning God’s Way and the people of Israel have been on a winning streak. As they entered the Promised Land, they were assured of winning and they experienced one victory after another. However, as with all winning streaks they come to an end and the loss hurts. In the passage we will study this week, Israel’s winning streak came to an end. The title of the message is Winning NOT! This passage is a powerful reminder Christian that for us to win God’s way we must avoid sinful compromise.

1 But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.

Joshua 7:1

 

The word “

But” should grab your attention because it connects us with the previous victory over Jericho in Chapter 6. This is like saying this year’s Clemson University football team had won 11 straight football games BUT then they played Syracuse. Joshua and the people were celebrating another win, “But the people Israel broke faith with regard to devoted things…” The phrase, “broke faith”, vividly describes the sin. This word describes acting unfaithfully or betraying the trust in a relationship like that of adultery.[i] In this case it was a broken trust in the relationship between God and Israel. How often have you tried to trivialize sin in your life? From God’s perspective sin is the breaking of a trust…spiritual adultery.

 

In this case, it was “

in regard to the devoted things…” Remember the Lord told Israel that the entire city of Jericho was to be devoted to Him

and all its financial plunder was to be put into the Lord’s treasury.

 

However, Achan, took some of the possessions of the city. The last sentence of verse 1 has an ominous tone to it when it says, “

And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.

” This is the part in the movie when the music turns dark and oppressive. You know something bad is about to happen. Back to Joshua 7.

2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” 4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, 5 and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water. 6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! 8 O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?” 10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13 Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.”

Joshua 7:2-13

 

Israel, by the grace of God, was on a winning streak BUT then they battled Ai. Ai was a little-bitty town compared to Jericho that did not have the fortifications of Jericho, but they sent Israel running for their lives. Don’t you wonder,

Why did the Lord punish the entire nation of Israel for the sinful act of Achan? Remember when we started this study, we discovered that the unity of Israel was a key theme running throughout the Book of Joshua. You can see that theme vividly on display here. The Lord disciplined the entire nation of Israel in the same way that an entire team is penalized for one player breaking the rules. Alan Redpath

(a well-known British evangelist, pastor and author) explains it the best…

“You see the children of Israel were a nation – they were brought to redemption ground as one man, the weakest of them and the strongest of them. They were a complete entity; God was dealing with them as a corporate body through whom His purposes for men were to be fulfilled. Here at Ai, therefore, the verdict of heaven on the sin of one member of the community was, “Israel hath sinned.”[ii]

 

 

Joshua was devastated by the defeat at Ai so he fell on his face in brokenness before the Lord pleading with the Lord to tell him what happened. This is the first time in this chapter, that you find Joshua seeking the Lord in prayer. Up to this point, he was completely unaware that there was a sin problem in the camp. Coming off the victory at Jericho, they go rambling into the next battle without consulting the Lord. I don’t have a reference for this, but if Joshua had sought the Lord in prayer prior to the battle of Ai, then IMHO, the Lord would have told him that there was sin in the nation because it was through

this prayer time that the Lord revealed the sin to Joshua. The Lord told him that some of the devoted things had been stolen and that was the reason for their defeat. You don’t win when you sin

. Make a note of that. Sinful compromise in your life will always end in defeat. Did I say ALWAYS? No exceptions.

 

TUESDAY: Identifying the Sin

In verses 14-19, the Lord took Joshua through a process of bringing the various tribes and clans of the nation before him to identify the source of the sin. Through this process, Joshua confronted Achan about his sin. Let’s listen to Achan…

20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and I took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23 And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the Lord.

Joshua 7:20–23

 

After getting caught, Achan acknowledged his sin. Notice the process of sin’s manifestation in Achan: “

I saw it”; “I wanted it”; and “I took it

.” This is the same thing that occurred in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned against God.

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6

 

Achan fell into the same sinful trap set by the devil in the Garden of Eden and just as in the Garden of Eden, the result was death. In the verses that follow, Joshua and the leaders brought Achan, his entire family, and all his possessions before the nation where they are stoned (rocked to sleep permanently) and everything they owned was burned. In verse 26, they did something interesting.

26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.

” Joshua 7:26

 

They built a stone altar and name the place the Valley of Achor. Achor means

trouble.

They built an altar and called the place the Valley of Trouble so that they would always remember that sinful compromise brings trouble.

 

 

WEDNESDAY: You Won’t Win When You Sin Because Sin Always Brings Trouble Into Your Life.

 
Look at the punishment handed down in the case of not only on Achan, but also his family and aren’t you tempted to holler, “FOUL! NOT FAIR!” But the Lord was teaching the Israelites and, by extension, you today the same lesson He’s been trying to teach mankind since the Garden of Eden. Sinful compromise brings trouble into your life, but not only your life, but into the lives of other people as well.

 

Sinful Compromise Has Far Reaching Consequences.

 

Achan’s sin not only affected him, but his family and the entire nation as they suffered defeat at the hands of little-bitty insignificant Ai. According to verse 5, 36 men died in the battle because of Achan’s sinful compromise. What about those men who died because of another man’s sin? What about the families of those men who died because of Achan’s sin?

 

God brings judgment on sin with extreme measures because the far-reaching consequences of sin are extreme. All you need to do is look at the cross of Jesus Christ to see the extreme consequences of sin. For it was there that the innocent blood of Jesus Christ was poured out on Golgotha, under the judgment of God, for your sin so that you might be made right with God. There was no other way.

 

For YOU To Win God’s Way You Must Avoid Sinful Compromise, Because

When You Sin You Won’t Win.

 

Nobody wins. So how can you practically avoid sinful compromise? Here are some practical applications.

 

Living the Word Applications: Avoid sinful compromise by…
 
 

 

THURSDAY: Remind Yourself Of The Far Reaching Consequences Of Sinful Compromise v. 5; 24-25.

 
In this chapter you get a vivid object lesson of the consequences of sinful compromise. Very rarely do your sinful actions affect only you. How often do other people suffer because of your sinful behavior? How often is your family hurt because of your sinful behavior? It’s not worth it. A monkey may be able to whip a skunk, but it’s just not worth it…never was, is or will be.

 

One of the most devastating far-reaching consequences in these verses is found in verse 12,

Therefore, the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. I will be with you no more

…”

 

You are not as strong before the enemy, Satan, when sinful compromise is alive and well in your life because you quench the presence of God in your life. You are only as strong in advancing God’s Kingdom in your Promised Land as the purity of your life. Israel suffered because of the impurity of one man, Achan. You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. You are only as strong in accomplishing God’s mission in this world as the purity of your life. Your individual sinfulness affects the effectiveness that our church has in pushing back the enemy around us. Do you feel weak and powerless as a Christian? Purify your life of sinful compromise. Avoid sinful compromise by keeping in mind the far-reaching consequences.

 

Are you willing to take a fearless inventory of your behavior to see where you have embraced sinful compromise…and once taken, will you make immediate corrections while you still can?

 

Be Wary That Underneath Sin’s Sparkle Lies Only Death v. 20-21.

In verses 20-21, the sparkle of the Cloak from Shinar, the silver, and the gold caught Achan’s attention. On the surface it sparkled but underneath it was death. Oh, how sin sparkles on the surface, a beautiful cloak and silver and gold. Oh, how sin sparkles on the surface, but underneath is death. Be wary of sin’s sparkle because it when you see it, you can start to covet, and before you know it you are consuming it. Sin’s sparkle invites death into your life.

 

The man who is drawn to lustful looks and then viewing pornography and then into an illicit affair usually fails to see that what sin advertises it NEVER delivers. How often have you known those who traded a lifetime of God’s grace for a few moments of stolen ‘pleasures’? As the prophet Nathan said to King David…”

You are that man

.” Sin never, NEVER delivers what it advertises.
 

FRIDAY: Having A Joshua In Your Life v. 19-20.

 
You need a

Joshua

in your life for accountability. You need someone who will boldly confront you about sin in your life. You need a Joshua who will ask us the tough questions. Who’s your Joshua? If you don’t have one, find an accountability partner. Avoid sinful compromise by having a Joshua in your life. Your enemies won’t tell you whether or not your pants are unzipped or have spinach in your teeth. You need the kind of person who will without apology. I mean it.

 

Remembering Your Sin Will Be Discovered v. 16-21.

 

Achan like so many of you who thought his sin could be hidden, will realize that you can only hide your sin so long. You cannot hide from God…ever. Secret sins will be discovered. Let that sink in…secret sins will be discovered and when they are, you won’t win. So what do you need to do? Bring it out into the open and deal with it decisively.

 

Remember the story about the little boy who had been tasked with planting the bean patch on the farm? He was interrupted by his buddies with an invite to go down to the swimming hole. He told them he couldn’t go because he was planting beans. They persuaded and prevailed and he simply dug one hole at the end of the bean patch and buried all the beans in the same hole. Off they went to swim…but beans have a way of coming up. Judgment day did arrive.

 

Joshua and the people brought it out into the open and dealt with the sin and its consequences decisively. It won’t be easy, but it is the road to blessing, power, and healing…and as we will see next week it is the road to winning again.

[i] Howard, David M. Jr. The New American Commentary: Joshua.

Volume 5. Broadman and Holman Publishing, 1998. 188.

[ii] Redpath, Alan. Victorious Christian Living.

Fleming H. Revell, 1955, 1993. 118,119.