Thursday, April 13, 2017

April 13: Joshua 7:16-9:2; Psalm 82; Proverbs 13:2-3; Luke 16:1-18



Overview

            Joshua: In the morning, Joshua brought the tribes before the Lord and after picking tribe, clans, and household, Achan was chosen. He confessed to taking some of the devoted things and hiding them in his tent. Joshua sent messengers and they found the items in Achan’s tent. Israel stoned Achan and his family and his possessions. They burned them all and raised a heap of stones over them. The Lord’s anger was then turned.
            The Lord then told Joshua how to capture Ai with 30,000 men and they would be allowed to take the plunder from the city. They set an ambush so that when the men of Ai came out to fight, Israel’s first wave would draw back, pretending to be defeated. Those hiding in ambush went in to the city and burned it. Then the first wave turned and the men of Ai were caught between the two forces of Israel. They killed all the inhabitants of Ai, removed the plunder, and then burned the city.
            Joshua then built an altar of uncut stones on Mount Ebal as Moses had commanded. He wrote a copy of the law on it. Then Israel stood, half before Mount Ebal and half before Mount Gerizim, while the Ark was between them. Joshua read the Law, blessings and curses from the Book of the Law so that all heard.
            As soon as the rest of the kings of the land heard what happened, they gathered to fight against Joshua and Israel.
            Psalm: Asaph presents God as being the Judge in the midst of gods. God asks them how long they will be unjust being partial to the wicked. He tells them to give justice to weak and fatherless and to rescue the needy. These gods don’t have understanding and shake the earth. God now says to them that they are sons of the Most High but they will die just as princes die. Asaph then asks God to judge the earth and inherit the nations.
            Proverbs: When a person speaks pleasantly, he will have what is good. When he guards what he says, he has a good life. Treacherous people, however, want violence and when they open their mouths, they end up in ruin.
            Luke: Jesus tells a parable to his disciples about a rich man who discovered his manager was dishonest. He made the manager give an accounting of everything. The manager then changed all the accounts receivable to show that people owed less than they did. He did this to gain the debtor’s favor. The rich man found out and said the manager was shrewd. Jesus explained that worldly people are shrewder in dealing with the world than are the sons of light. So, operating in worldly ways will get a person a warm welcome with other worldly people in their eternal dwellings (hell).
            Jesus continues to tell the disciples to be faithful in little things and they will be faithful in much just as a dishonest person over little things is dishonest over much. If we aren’t faithful with worldly wealth, what makes us think we will be faithful with true riches? We can’t serve both God and money.
            The Pharisees overheard this and ridiculed Jesus. He told them that they try to justify and exalt themselves and that is an abomination before God. The Law and Prophets applied until John but now the good news of the kingdom of God is preached. They are trying to force their way into the kingdom but the Law will not be voided.
            If anyone divorces and remarries another, he commits adultery.

What Stood Out

            Joshua: “And Joshua and all Israel … took Achan … and his sons and daughters and … all that he had … And all Israel stoned him … They burned them” (Josh 7:24-25).
            Psalm: “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you” (Ps 82:6).
            Proverbs: “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life” (Prov 13:3).
            Luke: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10).

Insight

            Joshua: Achan’s sin brought trouble on all Israel but also on his family. It’s hard to imagine what this looked like when all Israel gathered to stone and then burn Achan along with his sons and daughters and everything he had. When we read things like this in the Bible, we often wonder what kind of God we serve, who would treat innocent kids like this just because their father stole from the Lord? I admit it is hard to understand. But I have to remember that God is holy, just, loving, and to sum it up, God is good. He also gave a very clear command in Deuteronomy 24:16, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.”
            Therefore, the conclusion is that we don’t have the whole story. If God has commanded that only the person who sins is put to death, then the whole family was complicit in Achan’s sin. They had to be aware of it and they had to agree to it. It implies that the children were not innocent babes but old enough to be involved and to know better.
            What’s the lesson for us? Isn’t it that our sins cause more problems that we can ever imagine. What we teach our children by our actions will affect them. They will learn from us. We are sinful people to start with, but children don’t need to be taught how to be selfish. That comes naturally. However, when our actions fail to teach them how to obey the Lord and love him, then they will be disobedient just like us. If Achan’s story can be used as an allegory, when our actions teach our children the wrong way, our end and theirs is eternal punishment. That is a sobering thought for no one wants to see his children punished eternally.
            Psalm: Even though it appears that God is speaking to other gods, the context of the Psalm is that he is speaking to judges. The word for gods is the same as the word for God, elohiym. The meaning of the word can refer to God, angels, judges, or rulers.[1] Jesus quoted verse 6 in John 10:34, clarifying that God was talking to people and not other spiritual beings. The point of the Psalm is another indictment against Israel, specifically those who have been appointed to be judges in the nation. They have been unjust and haven’t been doing what God commanded in Deuteronomy 1:16-17. In this command, God says that their judgments are his judgments. That is a weighty command but the judges of Israel were treating their jobs lightly.
            God’s indictment of them ends in his judgment and a sentence. Even though they have this high position, they will die just like everyone else, even princes. It is a good warning to us to treat others justly and not judge unfairly. We should be carrying out his commands for our calling in life. Paul tells us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling as Christians, being humble, gentle, patient, and loving (Eph 4:1-2). Since we are called sons of the Most High, we should act like it.
            Proverbs: Jesus said that what comes out of a man’s mouth is what is stored up in his heart (Matt 15:18). The fruit of our mouths enables us to live lives that is not just a good life, but an eternal life. When we confess with our mouth, Jesus is Lord it is because we believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. That is when the fruit of our mouths provides us eternal life (Rom 10:9-10).
            Luke: I suppose some could twist the parable of the dishonest manager to justify using worldly wealth just the way the world does. However, Jesus doesn’t commend the actions of the dishonest manager. He explains that the parable is told to show that when we are dishonest with even little things like worldly wealth, we will also be dishonest in the way we treat God’s Word. Two things usually trip up people who are dishonest with God’s Word, money and sex. They use worldly wealth just as the world does and end up broke or in prison. If they treat their sexual purity with the same degree of dishonesty, they end up divorced or in some other kind of sexual scandal. Jesus pointed to the Pharisees who ridiculed him as an example.
            The message is very simple. We should be faithful in whatever we do. If it is worldly wealth, which is insignificant in view of eternity, then we should be super honest with it. Even though the good news of salvation in Jesus has come, there are still principles in the Law and Prophets that won’t be voided. We need to handle these accurately because they are part of God’s Word.

Application

            I don’t want to be like Achan who treasured worldly things more than obeying God. I want to be able to handle God’s Word accurately also. They are both tied together since God’s Word tells me how to handle things in this world.


[1] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, Charles Briggs, The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs' Hebrew Lexicon, (Ontario, Canada: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1993), s.v. “OT:430.”

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