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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Remember Achan?
In Deuteronomy 7:6, we read something very germaine to our understanding of what eventually happened to the Israelites, on account of Achan. The passage reads, "And you shall not bring an abominable thing into your house and become devoted to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest and abhor it, for it is devoted to destruction."

This instruction was fairly straightforward: If you know that God has devoted some thing to destruction, and you knowingly bring that thing into your house, you invite force God to devote you to destruction, in order to protect those around you from your corruption.

So when we get to Joshua 7, and are introduced to Achan as someone who secretly brought into his tent some of the spoil (from Jericho) that God had devoted to destruction, we begin to understand why it is that when Israel attacked Ai, God was not with them. By setting aside the command of God, Achan had not only devoted Himself to destruction, but by extension, devoted all of Israel to destruction.

Some may cringe at the judgment against Achan, for he was singled out, and stoned to death along with (presumably) his family. We might cringe I say at the thought of his family being stoned to death, then burned, then buried under a heap of stones because, although they were (again presumably) willing to silently harbor the forbidden spoil, they hadn't been the ones who brought that spoil into the camp.

Yet in making that distinction we set ourselves up to naively assume that the judgement against Achan (and his family) was harsh because God wanted to send a strong message, or maybe we might imagine that the judgment was simply a punishment for disobedience, and if we imagine that, then we are left to wonder why God seemed rather lacking in mercy when it came to Achan's family. We may reason that Achan rather deserved the punishment, but his family should have received a lesser sentence or something like that.

This again, because we presume that the judgment was more about what Achan did, and not about the consequences of what Achan did. You see, when Achan brought in the things that were devoted to destruction, he literally devoted all of Israel to destruction - including himself and his family. It is like when one allows a single drop of deadly poison into one's water - you throw it all away rather than straining out the poison.

When Israel went up against the city of Ai, God was no longer with them, because Achan's treachery had caused God to devote all of Israel to destruction. That is why dozens of Israelites died when they attempted to take Ai the first time. Recall that the Israelites had come to expect their victories to be flawless. In Numbers 31, we read that 12,000 Israelites went to war against (and utterly wiped out) all of Midian without losing a single Israelite (cf. Numbers 31:48-50). In the original assault against Ai, Israel fled from the battle, and three dozen Israelites were killed.

Now, three dozen may not sound like a lot of men - certainly it sounds to our ear like Joshua was over doing it a little when he fell down on his face at this news, and remained prostrate before the Lord for the remainder of that day. I mean, to our ear, we think: This is war! So what if 36 men out of 3000 fell. I mean, they were routed after all, to lose only 36 men would seem almost like an impossibly small loss. But when you are used to, and expect, flawless victories, the loss of 36 men screams one thing: God is no longer with us (Israel).

God wasn't punishing Achan for what Achan had done. Rather Achan had devoted himself, his family, and all of Israel to destruction by bringing what was devoted to destruction into his tent, and into the camp of Israel. When judgment came down on Achan and his family, it came down on them because Achan had willingly subjected himself and all of Israel to the same destruction that God was meting out on the Canaanites.

I don't write this merely to give us insight into what exactly was going on with Achan. I write this because I want those who themselves are professing believers, to have more traction in their own understanding when it comes to making a clean break from sin.

Not that I am saying, "Look at how Achan devoted all of Israel to destruction by compromising God's command, and tremble, for unless you make a clean break, you will likewise perish!" - which would more or less be telling you to pick yourself up by your own sinful bootstraps and fly right from now on --or else! Which itself would be an encouragement to do something you will never be able to do no matter how noble it might sound to try.

No, what I am saying is that sin's corruption (rightly understood) alienates you from the promises of God. You must turn away entirely from trusting in your own righteousness, for no matter how strong and vigilant you are, or imagine yourself to be, you will eventually do (ad nauseum) just as Achan has done. That is to say that no matter how many (seemingly) good things you might imagine that you do in your life, eventually you will mix these with such corruption that unless you were in Christ, God Himself would devote you to destruction just as certainly, and just as severely.

Given this; it is imperative that you learn, Christian, to stop thinking of Christianity in terms of conforming yourself to a regiment of religious duty (attending church, reading your bible, praying, and being involved in no less than two ministries), and begin to think in terms of drawing near to the Christ who has taken all (that has been devoted to destruction in you) to the cross. Christianity is lived out when you learn to draw near to God (through Christ) by faith. It is the fact that you draw near through Christ that is key. Make Christ the focus of your life Christian, and as you do, all the things that you would have done to try and imitate Christianity (attending church, reading your bible, praying, and ministering to others) will flow out of that naturally and abundantly - no longer will you draw these things laboriously from the well of duty, but they shall flow out of you like (living) water from an artesian well.

The sooner you learn that Christianity is all about living in the knowledge of what Christ has done, the better.

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posted by Daniel @ 8:30 AM  
  • At 10:06 AM, June 22, 2011, Blogger David said…

    I have never heard it explained this way before. I think you've nailed it.

  • At 10:25 AM, June 22, 2011, Blogger Daniel said…

    It makes sense to me that way.

    More significant to me however is the idea that we are, in and of ourselves, devoted to destruction in the same way Achan was. That we must learn to stop looking to ourselves, or our religion, to make ourselves pleasing in God's sight, and learn through such means, the utter centrality of Christ, not only to our afterlife, but to our day by day living, and this not only for our own peace and joy, but for God's glory.

  • At 3:56 AM, June 27, 2011, Blogger markshriv said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 5:48 AM, June 27, 2011, Blogger Daniel said…

    Previous comment was spam.

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