A Voice in the
"And Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of Jehovah until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they threw dust on their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord Jehovah, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all; to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies?
"And Jehovah said to Joshua: Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I have commanded them... Therefore the sons of Israel were not able to stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they are accursed. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you. Get up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says Jehovah the God of Israel: There is a devoted thing in your midst, O Israel; you are not able to stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted thing from among you." (~Josh7:6-13)
Today's "prosperity" theology exhorts its followers to be "healthy and wealthy". They proclaim it almost as though it was the Believer's "right". That if they experience anything other than prosperity, that such slumps indicate a "lack-of-faith". Their "sin" is a case of doing less than "naming" God's promises and "claiming" them; of course, "in Jeeezzusss name!!!" Everybody is supposed to have two legs that are both the same length, and if there is any kind of sickness at all, they are to pray for "healing", get hands "laid" on them, and receive a special "anointing".
But what does Scripture teach? Is every Christian intended to experience only wealth and health? Paul experienced both prosperous times, and times that were not: "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in everything I am taught both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to lack." (Php4:11-12) In fact, one of the accolades to the saints of "faith" is that, due to persecution, many of them lived in caves, "They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, oppressed; of whom the world was not worthy." (Heb11:37-38)
In terms of health Paul testifies to the "thorn in the flesh" given to him. (2Co12:7) Had Paul done anything wrong? Was he lacking faith? Well, apparently he had a -tendency- (or potential) to pride (who among us doesn't!); "so that I should not be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations". In other words, so that he might not get puffed up, thinking about -all- that the Lord had done through him, in taking the Gospel of Christ to essentially the whole of Asia Minor, that he not come away from it boasting, "Look at all this that -I- have done, and how God chose -MEEEE- as His instrument of the N.T. Scriptures; aren't I really something great!"
When a bit is put in a horse's mouth, the level of discomfort, assuming a gracious rider, is up to the horse. If the horse readily obeys the commands, the rider doesn't 'need' to exert much force on the reins; but if the horse is head-strong, or is easily excitable, the reins must be held tighter, exerting more discomfort to the horse's mouth from the bit. But that bit, whether the reins are tugged or not, is always in the horse's mouth as a 'reminder'. God often gives us "thorns" for the same reason. The reminder from God "this is the way, walk in it" (Is30:21)
And of course, charismania's favorite "healing" passage is actually in the context, also, of Salvation: "And the prayer of FAITH will SAVE the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he may have committed sins, they will be forgiven him." (Ja5:15) They typically only look at the healing of the physical body, not the soul and spirit. They talk about "faith to be healed"; whereas it is actually talking about Saving Faith, and of sins being forgiven.
God had promised Israel that if they would follow Him in obedience, that He would keep them healthy and prosperous. (De7:15) But if they turned away from Him, that He would "bring back upon" them the "diseases of Egypt" (28:60)
How often do we not see certain (alleged) Christians who -always- seem to have major health issues. Yes, there are the cases where "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him." (Jn9:3) But in more cases Jesus was "forgiving sins" of the sick (Mt9:2), and exhorting those just healed, "Sin no more that a worse thing not come upon you" (Jn5:14) In Israel it was well-understood, the relationship between sickness and sin, that when the disciples saw the blind man, they asked Jesus, "who sinned, this man or his parents?"
When we see these various ones that might come to mind, how often do we contemplate "sin"? Or is it not usually more likely that people will 'pity' the person thus afflicted, and will 'comfort' them due to the "cross" they are bearing, and rather than exhorting them to search their souls for the sin for which reason they are being afflicted, to praise them for how much they are bearing up under the load of the affliction. This is the cross God wants me to bear, so I must! Wimper! Whine! Sigh!
This is what Joshua did. Due to Achan's sin, Israel was defeated at Ai. So Joshua and the leaders (who don't yet know what Achan has done) throw dust on their heads, wallow around in the dirt, and Joshua whines: God, why did You bring this people over the Jordan at all? To destroy us? God, it's Your fault. You promised us victory over our enemies, but we have just been defeated; therefore, You didn't keep your promise. Why did You do this to us?
Uh...how's that again? BLAMING GOD???
But...isn't Joshua 'prostrating' himself before God? Are not he and the elders 'humbling' themselves before God? Are they not "sorrowing" and letting their "laughter be turned to mourning" and their "joy to shame"? (Ja4:9)
Well...yes and no. True: they are humbled before God; but it is not them considering sin, that perhaps somebody did something wrong; but in their minds the -problem- is their 'defeat' at Ai. After quite a few glorious victories, a relatively few men have now whooped their behinds as they turned tail and ran.
What does God say?
GET UP OFF YOUR FACE! Quit wallowing around in self-pity! You've got SIN-IN-THE-CAMP! And until you get rid of the sin, there will be no more blessing. (vs12) Until you get rid of the sin, you are accursed!
My! But isn't that rather 'harsh' rhetoric?
God says nothing about "forgive and forget". There's many today who do wrong and commit offenses, both to God and man; but they want 'acceptance' from those they've wronged. They whine and complain if the offended party continues a stern countenance toward them. And if God gives them disease, they don't even notice that it came from God as a forceful "tug" on their 'bit', or out-n-out punishment.
God is "holy", and we are commanded: "Be holy, because I am holy" (Lev11:44, 1Pet1:16)
What does it mean to be "holy"? What did it mean in this case in Joshua ch7? If you read the preceding chapters, it becomes clear that all the spoils from Jericho were to be dedicated to God. None of the people were to claim any spoils-of-battle for themselves, this time. This was their first battle of military conquest after crossing the Jordan River into the land. Just as everything in Israel that came out first (first-born, firstfruits, etc) was God's, so it was for Jericho. The spoils of Jericho was the first-fruits to God. But Achan had stolen some of it for himself. And if you read the following passages, you will note how when Achan's name is drawn, that he readily admits his sin. In his conscience he knows he has sinned; and as I was reading this passage again recently, seeing how the lots worked their way down the family tree, I was imagining in my mind how, as the lots got closer to him, he must have been sweating bullets of worry, knowing what the consequences were about to be for him and his family...to be stoned to death.
The Jericho spoils were "holy". They were "devoted" to God. They were divided out and "separated" from the people, -to- God. But Achan had not been holy, but had latched on to some of the spoils.
As Christians, we are to be holy...separated from the world and sin, -to- God. And this is what God commands Joshua:
The word "sanctify" is a verb having the same meaning as the adjective, "holy". To sanctify means: to make holy. To "come out" and "be separate". (2Co6:17) To separate out from the rest. It has nothing to do with 'feelings' or halos; but it is action, position and behavior. In the case of Jericho, to separate out the spoils. In terms of people, to withdraw from the filth of sin; to withdraw from that which is offensive to God.
And so: what was Joshua and Israel to do about Achan? Get him to 'repent' and then "forgive and forget"? In Achan's case it was drastic measures: Stoning and burning Achan, his family, and all that he had; and then they piled up stones over the whole mess as a monument. (Josh7:25-26)
There is sin? A person has done wrong? Don't sweep it under the rug and white-wash the situation for fear of 'offending' somebody! But 'fix' it. The offense has already been committed; against God and/or man. To merely white-wash is an offense to the one wronged.
The sinner needs to own up to their deeds, face it, and make good.
Done wrong to a person? Make it right. Make restitution. In the O.T., depending on the offense, a person had to restore double, add a 5th part to what was being restored, if an ox died while in the person's custody the person had to give his own 'live' ox to the person as restoration. Done injury to a person, pay the full medical bills to repair the injuries and restore the person to health.
When Zacchaeus came down out of the tree to host Jesus in his home, Zacchaeus having been a thieving tax collector, but he was just "receiving" Jesus (Jn1:12), not merely as a house guest, but also as his Savior; he proclaims how he is going to make restitution for all the wrongs he has done to people. (Lk19:8-10) He was "bring[ing] forth fruits worthy of repentance" (Mt3:8)
He was not "working" for salvation (Eph2:9); but since he was just saved and received Jesus, he was saved "UNTO good works" (vs10) This article is not about "salvation", or how to be saved; but is a lesson to Believers. How does a Christian, a follower of God, comport themself?
If there is sin in one's life, is it enough to weep and cry, getting all emotional, shedding tears? Oh, I'm so sorry! ...whilst continuing to carry on in the same life? Going back to infirmities: if a person is afflicted with persistent ailments, does one pat themself on the back: Oh, poor me! Look how rough I have things. Why is God treating me this way?
IT IS NOT GOD'S FAULT! IT IS SIN!
When the Believer has the hope of Christ's return, where we expect to "be like Him", what does John say is the Believer's response? "And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." (1Jn3:3)
The word "purify" is also a verb; a word of -action-. No, God does -NOT- "accept us JUST AS WE ARE"! Those who proclaim that doctrine and have deceived many will have -much- to answer before God! But our goal is to be a "glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Eph5:27)
When clothes have wrinkles, a person takes action and irons the wrinkles out. If there are spots (dirt), the clothes are washed to -remove- the dirt. The church is "holy"...that means 'separate' and distinct from the world. Yes, "separation of church and state". Our citizenship is not of this world, but in Heaven. (Php3:20) Without blemish means to not bring one's self into contact with agents which infect and give rashes, but to keep clean.
If a person has physical ailments, I would exhort them to look inward at their conscience. If it is because of sin, they should know it. If they harden their necks, and refuse to acknowledge their guilt, they will remain sickly. In some extreme cases, God also takes a wayward child in death: "For if we would discern ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." (1Co11:30-32)
How many with ailments also whine that God doesn't seem to answer their prayers? Why would that be? Again: sin. To God's people, Israel, He proclaims: "Behold, Jehovah’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor is His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has uttered perverseness...etc." (Is59:1-3~)
If the sickness is due to sin: Get up off your face, repent, and change! Stop doing the sin, clean out of the life those elements (things, items, associations, etc) related to the sin, throw them away, confess to people wronged and make restitution; and then start living righteously. As we already noted, when Jesus healed some He would exhort them to stop sinning, lest something worse should come to them. The woman "caught in the act" He exhorted to "go and SIN NO MORE". It's a choice-of-behavior.
Don't necessarily worry about "going forward" at church, and making annoucements to the congregation, unless the congregation is whom you have wronged. But rather as David repents: "For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." (Ps51:16-17)
"With Jehovah, to -DO- righteousness and justice is to be chosen over sacrifice (church rituals)." (Pr21:3) Don't be blabbing to everybody how you've changed...let them -see- it from your life.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which has the power to save your souls. But BE DOERS OF THE WORD, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (Ja1:21-22)
"Depart from evil and DO GOOD, and live forevermore. For Jehovah loves justice and does not forsake His Godly ones; they are preserved forever; but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the earth, and dwell in it forever." (Ps37:27-29)