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It Is That Important

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IT IS THAT IMPORTANT
Joshua 7.1-8.35

S: Sin, Judgment and Grace
C: Purpose of the Community
Th: A People with Purpose
Pr: SIN THAT IS NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY IS LETHAL.
TS: We will find in our study of Joshua 7-8 what happens when sin is not taken seriously.

Type: Narrative

I. DEFEAT (7.1-9)
II. SIN (7.10-15)
III. JUDGMENT (7.16-26)
IV. VICTORY (8.1-29)
V. RENEWAL (8.30-35)

PA: How is the change to be observed?
• Confess sin
• Repent of sin
• Be right with God

Version: ESV

RMBC 06 August 06 AM


INTRODUCTION:

ILL Cause

(According to a true anecdote found in the Reader’s Digest…)

At the end of a visit with their daughter who lived across the country, a father insisted on leaving some of his pain medication for her migraines.

A month later he was talking with her on the phone and asked, "Do those pills work?"

"I don’t know;" she replied. "I haven’t had a headache since you left!”

Well, one would wonder what the cause was of those headaches, wouldn’t they?
Could it have been the father?

So, let me ask you…

1. Do you believe in cause and effect?

ILL Cause: Personal – tennis

One of the sports I played in high school was doubles tennis. During my final regular season match, my partner and I fell behind during our first set, and lost 2-6. This was the second time we had faced this pair of players and we had beaten them quite soundly the first time.

Now we had dug ourselves in a whole, and the coach was really upset. After the first set was over, he did not yell. He was not that type. He just said, simply, that he couldn’t understand why we were allowing ourselves to lose to an inferior opponent.

I knew why. It was a simple loss of concentration. I, in particular, had lost focus. The Senior Banquet was going on inside the school and I was anxious to attend the proceedings with my friends.

My partner and I, though, had been dedicated to success and had only lost one other match all year. So we bore down, set aside the distractions, and won the second set 6-4, and then cruised to a 6-1 final set. We celebrated because we ended the season on a winning note.

As I consider that tennis match, I see that there was cause and effect. We had lost concentration and focus, and the effect was losing. When my partner and I put our minds back into the game, the effect was more satisfactory.

There is such a thing as cause and effect.
In our text last week, Joshua 6, we discovered that the cause of Israel’s great victory was God.
And the effect was stunning.
The walls of Jericho came down.

They came down because the Israelites had followed the instructions given them by their commander Joshua.
He told them to do what God had commanded them to do, which was a very unusual strategic plan that seemed rather bizarre.
They were to march around the city once and blow trumpets for six days.
Then on the seventh day, they marched seven times, and then gave a mighty shout along with the sounding of the trumpets.
And the effect was, as mentioned before, stunning.
The walls came down, not because that marching softened the ground and weakened the walls.
It happened because God made it so.
It happened because God’s people trusted and obeyed.

But, as we are about to learn…

2. Victories can be short-lived when God’s directives are not followed.

As we come to a very large text of study today, we are going to find out that trust and obedience was not as comprehensively followed as it should have been.
In other words…

3. We will find in our study of Joshua 7-8 what happens when sin is not taken seriously.

Our text is too long today to follow all the details, for if we did that, we might end just in time for our picnic today.
So I do encourage you to read the entire text on your own because it is a fascinating narrative.

OUR STUDY:

After the great success in chapter 6, we find that the following chapter begins with “but.”
As good as it has been, as good as the defeat of Jericho has been, we are going to have a problem.
It is, simply, a…

I. DEFEAT (7.1-9)

Israel has gone to the next logical place to conquer, Ai, and here is what happened…

(4) So about 3,000 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.

4. An unexpected loss came to Israel.

After what happened to Jericho, Ai was supposed to be a cinch.
But instead, they Israelites were put on the run.
This stunning and unanticipated defeat put Joshua on his knees…

(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.

Joshua is crushed.
He comes before the Lord and prays with candor and transparency.
He cannot understand why God has promised victory and then allowed defeat.
But to his credit, Joshua complains, but then he listens.
Many have looked at this passage and criticized Joshua’s leadership at this point.
They say he did not rely on God.
They say that the Israelites were depending too much on themselves.
But the truth is, what is important, is to accept God’s diagnosis.
And God only gives one reason.
It is…

II. SIN (7.10-15)

5. There was sin in the camp.

Perhaps you have heard that phrase before.
This is the text where that came from.
And what we discover is that treacherous Israelites are more dangerous than malicious Canaanites.
What seems like a small thing, to God is an incredibly big deal.
Here is how the Lord puts it to Joshua…

(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.

It is here that we must understand this important principle.
Sin always ignites God’s anger!
Always!

God reveals the multiple layers of sin that is involved here.
There is stealing.
There is lying.
And there is concealing.
In essence, there is disobedience.
For these devoted things, objects under the ban, were to be destroyed or if they were precious metal, given for use in the tabernacle.

Now another important principle is revealed.
This transgression defiled the whole nation and placed it under the ban.
Because the nation of Israel was, in essence, an organic unity.
What one did, affected the whole.
Which proves to us that…

6. Sin is never private.

We have heard the phrase, “No man is an island,” and that certainly bears out true here.
For sin is like a poison that spreads, contaminates and kills what it has contact with.
It is a corrosive and corrupting influence, always affecting those around us.
And it always brings more sin.
When you sin, you don’t sin alone.
Hear that again…you don’t sin alone.
If you think you have a private sin that no one else knows about, God has a word for you.
He knows.
It is not as private as you think.
And, it is affects the rest of us.
Because the church is an organic unity – the body of Christ – what we do affects each other positively or negatively.
Think for a moment…
It may be that we are not succeeding as a church as we should because God is withholding His blessing because of you.
You don’t sin alone!

This was certainly true for Israel, for it was now time for…

III. JUDGMENT (7.16-26)

It was time…

7. It was time to confess.

It was time for the culprit to confess.
It is speculation on my part, but as Joshua went through the process to find out who the guilty party was, I believe time was being given for the person to come out and make himself known.
I think this is so because God is ready and eager to forgive those that humbly repent.
This is true throughout Scripture.

But Achan never does so.
He keeps holding out until the lot falls on him, and then he confesses.

(19) Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me." (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 took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath."

The pity here is that Achan is forced into the confession.
He has been exposed for what he is.
You know, it is always worse not to confess ahead of time.
We tell that all the time to our children.
But as adults, we are not consistent, for we still struggle with this concept.

For Achan, that gorgeous Babylonian robe, silver money, and bar of gold was too much for his lust.
He was a dissatisfied man who sought to improve his situation.
He was a discontent man who desired that which was not his.
He was a thief, stealing from God which belonged to Him.
He was a materialistic man that desired to be fashionable, successful and chic.
And he was a man of supposed independence, denying his essential dependence on God.

So understand this…

8. Sin is never a trivial matter.

ILL Sin: Havner

Vance Havner once said:

Sin will always cost you more than you want to pay; and keep you longer than you want to stay.

Paul’s letter to the Romans tells us that the wages of sin is death.
It always is.
That has never and will never change.
God possesses a legitimate wrath against sin, for sin wars against His very nature and person.
This means then, that this wrath cannot allow him to be sentimental and wink when things go wrong.
The penalty for sin is always death – of something or someone.

In this case, Achan’s whole tent comes under the ban.
Since he took for his possession items that were under the ban, that ban transferred to all that he owned and was dear to him – all his possessions, all living things, and all those that lived in his tent.
It is a horrible, but just judgment.

(25) And Joshua said, "Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today." And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. (26) And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger.

Now that the sin in the camp has been dealt with, it will be time for…

IV. VICTORY (8.1-29)

While we are not following the details this morning…

9. An ingenious plan is made.

It was a shrewd and clever attack.
The deception left the King of Ai overconfident, so much so, he left his city open and unguarded.
He soon found himself surrounded, his avenues of escape cut off, and his city burning.

(25) And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. (26) But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction. (27) Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their plunder, according to the word of the LORD that he commanded Joshua.

This total and complete victory gives us insight on Achan, for…

10. Sin is impatient.

This time, there would be a sharing of the goods.
After Israel had proved its ability to obey God (of course, except for Achan and his household), there would be a spreading of the wealth.
If Achan had demonstrated some patience, he too would have received a share.

Now that Jericho and Ai, the first two major cities have been removed, it was time for…

V. RENEWAL (8.30-35)

You see…

11. It was time to stay right with God.

Here we find that the Israelites followed the instructions of Moses found in Deuteronomy…

(30) At that time Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, (31) just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, "an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool." And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings. (32) And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. (33) And all Israel, sojourner as well as native born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded at the first, to bless the people of Israel. (34) And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. (35) There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.

There is so much going on here that is worth noting.
First there was an altar made of uncut stones, to avoid worship that was dependent on man’s workmanship.
Two kinds of offerings were made: a burnt offering and the peace offering.
In the burnt offering, the animal is totally consumed pointing to the people’s total commitment and dependence on God’s grace and forgiveness.
The peace offering communicates joy and gratitude, a communion with the Lord.
These offerings reinforced the people’s understanding that death is required of sin.
When someone sins, someone or something must die.

Next we note that the billboard system along the highways is an ancient practice.
People would find huge stones, cover them with plaster and whitewash, making a flat surface, then write on them.
In this case, the people of Israel placed the Ten Commandments upon them, putting the area on notice that they served an immutable, invariable, and eternal God.

Finally, the Law was read in the natural amphitheater.
And the people were reminded that success will follow obedience.

APPLICATION:

ILL Sin: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, loved practical jokes. Once he sent a telegram to twelve of his friends. All were men of great virtue and respected in society. The telegram said, “Flee at once, your secret is discovered!” Within 24 hours, the story goes, all twelve had left the country!

There may be some playful exaggeration here, but the point is too often true that many people, including Christians, are not what they seem to be.

As we mentioned before, sin that seems private is not really that way.
In fact, we might think that it is nobody’s business, but God assures us that is faulty thinking.
It is that important!
For…

12. SIN THAT IS NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY IS LETHAL.

I have come to realize through the years that one of the most dangerous things we can do when we are upset or angry, we find someone to agree with us.
We figure if we have someone agreeing with us we can’t be wrong.
But this is not true.
Sin is infectious, and we have just spread it.

Are you hiding anything in your tent?
Hatred for someone…
Jealousy of another person…
Struggle to tell the truth…
Always talking about other people that tears them down (gossip)…
Pride…
Anger…
Greed, always wanting more…
A bitter and critical attitude…
Causing dissension and rivalries…
Abusing your body and losing control to some addiction…
Love of money…
Harshness and a lack of mercy…
Blind eye to injustice…
Living an impure lifestyle…
Failing to follow God’s good design of sexuality…
Having other priorities over God…

The list could go on.

We have hope though.
Sin does not have to be the end of the story.
For the death that sin requires has been satisfied on the cross.

It is what we sing about next as we prepare for communion.

Hymn 209

COMMUNION:

I Corinthians 11:27-32:

Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of "remembrance" you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe. If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.
THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

I believe, wholeheartedly, that the concept of sin in the camp still applies today.
In other words, sin that is unconfronted and unconfessed hurts the body of Christ.
If you have sin that you feel is private and you are unrepentant, God will hold back His blessing from you and from us a church, because we are a living unity – a body.
What each one of us does, both for good and for ill, affects the others.
So as we approach our building needs and as we pray for effectiveness in ministry, God’s blessing can and will be held up because individual members of the body of Christ refuse to confess, and turn away from sin.
This is why we are told to confess our sins to one another.
It is a public matter.
It may be today that there are some things that you need bring into the light and stone them to death by confession and repentance.
You do not need to fear death today because Jesus has paid that price.
But you make fun of His sacrifice if you do not take your sin seriously.

It has always been that renewal and revival come to the church through confessed sin.
This is where it begins.
This is where a body regains its health, and thus, is able to growth.
If you are waiting for the latest method or the method of the past to make us grow, then you are waiting for the wrong thing.

So, for the next few minutes, we are going to be quiet, and pray, and if you have sin to confess and the Holy Spirit is nudging you out of the seat, I encourage you to take care of it, and make the walk down the aisle, confess it, and leave it behind.
Let’s not lose God’s blessing because we are too stubborn to deal with sin in our lives.

We are united together because of the work of Jesus.
Those of us that know Jesus are invited to share in the elements of the table.
If you do not know Jesus, that is, you have not received Him as your Savior and Lord, you do not trust Him with your life, that is, you have not been changed by the message, just let the elements pass by.
Please wait until the time comes when you do have that personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

We practice “communion” because we are to remember the death of the Lord Jesus.
We take the bread to remind us that it was by the body of our Savior that our salvation came.
He died in our place.
He became our substitute.
We take the cup to remind us that it was by the blood of our Savior that our salvation came.
He died for our sins.
He became our sacrifice.

Being led in prayer by … let us take a moment and thank Him for favoring us with his mercy, love and kindness.

(Prayer)

The apostle Paul writes, "The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."

Let’s partake together.

…l will now come and lead us in prayer.

Again, the apostle Paul writes, "In the same way, after supper he took the cup saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."

Let’s partake together.

Offering.

Hymn 666

For Further Study: Deuteronomy 27.2-8, 15-26, 28.1-7; Acts 5.1-11; Romans 6.23; James 1.13-15



BENEDICTION: [Counselors are ]

Let us be a people that always take sin seriously – let us not be found winking at it, calling it a mistake, or an error in judgment; instead let us call sin, sin – an offense against God and the body of Christ.

Let us always be found as a people that confess sin – and not trying to hide it – exposing it, repenting of it, and refusing it any more residence in our lives – in so doing ready to live lives that are honoring to our Lord.

And finally, let us be a people that rejoice in the payment of death that has been made on our behalf by Jesus our Lord, and not only rejoice in it, but respond by following our Lord whom death could not keep, who is alive and well, and whom we love and serve.

Now…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.



RESOURCES:

SermonCentral

Goins, Doug Learning from Losing
______ Turning Defeat into Victory
Holwick, David It Takes One to Bring Us Down
Malone, Steve Defeat Is Not Necessarily the Final Word
Richards, Tim A Little Sin Can Cause a Lot of Trouble

Books:

Boice, James Montgomery. Joshua: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989.

Campbell, Donald K. No Time for Neutrality. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1981.

Creach, Jerome F. D. Joshua Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, ed. James L. Mays. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2003.

Goslinga, C. J. Joshua, Judges, Ruth. Translated by Ray Togtman. Bible Student’s Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1986.

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