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27 April 2020 – Joshua 7:10-15

The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them. “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the LORD chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the LORD chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the LORD chooses shall come forward man by man. Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’” – Joshua 7:10-15

Adolph Harstad writes:

The OT rarely reveals the weaknesses of Joshua. On one occasion Moses reprimanded him for wanting to silence two Spirit-endowed elders (Numbers 11:24-30). There will be another incident in which the leader shows bad judgment (Joshua 9:14-15).

Here the Lord Himself admonishes Joshua for wavering in faith. The LORD’s rebuke is sharp and cutting. Yahweh does not allow Joshua’s monologue to continue for long after Joshua comes close to accusing Him of intending evil for His people Israel (7:7). In the evening he LORD answers; He does not let the sun go down upon Joshua’s grief and anger (cf. Eph 4:26). …

Yahweh’s rebuke implies that Joshua should have concluded that Israel had violated the covenant. Had He not promised success would follow when Israel honored His covenant and that disaster would strike when the nation failed to heed His word (e.g. Deuteronomy 28)? Wasn’t it obvious that the explanation had to be human sin? Instead of falling on his face in the dust nursing and attitude of “Why us? Why me?” Joshua should arise and deal with the problem.

Without naming the culprit, the LORD reveals the reason for the disaster at Ai. “They have transgressed My covenant. …They have taken some of cherem.” The plural pronoun “they” again shows that the LORD holds all Israel guilty. He is not satisfied that almost all the Israelites have honored the covenant conditions. Who dares suggest that God is not concerned about the sins of individuals as long as corruption is not widespread among His people? …

The LORD says He will not longer continue to be with Israel unless the cherem is destroyed. Hi words have the same sting as His statement at the time of the prophet Hosea: “You are not My people, and I am not your God.” Think of the impact of these crushing words on Israel! They will have no claim on the Promised Land, no right to divine protection, and no promise of success in battles. They would be on their own against Canaanites who would lust for revenge; though frightened by Jericho’s’ defeat they would be inspired by the rout of Israel at Ai. The surging Jordan blocks Israel’s retreat to the east with no hope of another miracle in crossing the river if the LORD would depart from them. They would no longer be the LORD’s “treasured possession” and “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex 19:5-6). Israel must remove the breach of covenant or else the people would perish in their sins – temporally and eternally.

The LORD does not leave Israel groping for a solution. Even in the middle of His blazing anger, He displays His grace. He carefully describes the procedure that Joshua must follow to narrow down the suspects and discover the one man who has dared to transgress His sacred covenant with Israel. First the people must consecrate themselves in preparation for appearing before the LORD the next day. … Then as tribes, clans, households, and individuals appear before the LORD, He Himself will catch the guilty one. Perhaps it was by lot or by the high priest’s Urim and Thummim.

Besides convicting the criminal, the painstaking procedure will clear the innocent in Israel. At the same time the protracted process gives Achan ample time to realize that he will not escape, so that he may repent even before the steady hand of the LORD points the accusing finger directly at him. For us readers, the procedure emphasizes that the LORD, whose anger burns at sin, has eyes like blazing fire to cut through any cover-up. what is the point of trying to hide guilt when “all things are naked and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account” (Hebrews 4:13)?

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 37

Q. 37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.