In the book of Joshua in the Old Testament there is a situation that occurred during a battle while clearing the Promised Land for God’s people that I believe is something we need to explore. To help understand what is going on we need some background information. Moses led the people out of Egypt, many sinned and grumbled that they would rather die if they couldn’t go back to the comfort of Egypt and God got fed up with them. God made the decree that none of the sinful people would see the Promised Land and so Moses had to lead them wandering around in the desert until all of that generation died, and it took forty years. Moses sinned and God told him that he couldn’t enter the Promised Land either and after his death Joshua was appointed by God to lead the people into the Promised Land. Of course there were cities and farms and established communities in this land and God told Joshua how to clear the people out of the land. One of the conditions was that they keep the Law of Moses and give all the gold and silver to the treasury for the Lord. Someone screwed up and sinned and God was not pleased.
But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. Joshua 7:1 (New International Version or NIV).
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. Joshua 7:10-13, (NIV).
Why is it that ninety-nine percent of the people did not sin yet suffered for the one percent that did sin? I have often wondered why the innocent suffer so much for the sins of someone else. I don’t have the answer to my own question but it happens and there isn’t anything we can do about it. We just have to make sure that we are not the one percent that causes consequences for the ninety-nine percent. Let’s read on to see what happens as God reveals the secret sinner.
Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen. The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen. Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen. Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” Joshua 7: 16-21, (NIV).
The dirty deed was done and about thirty-six soldiers (verse 5) lost their lives and their families suffered financial ruin and future generations were denied being created and born because of one man’s sin of greed. Oh how tragic this is but oh how prevalent is the same scenario in our day. Because of one person’s sin a whole community suffered consequences. What did God tell Joshua to do to this man?
Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since. Joshua 7:24-26, (NIV).
One man’s sin does not go unnoticed by our God, not then and not today. This tragedy could have been avoided had Achan obeyed the rules God established. Achan’s animals, servants and blood relatives, his family, were all killed because of one man’s sin. His punishment was swift then because God was building his nation and demanded total surrender to His will. Today we don’t see God punish as quickly. Some may think it would be better if God did punish swiftly still but if you study the nation of Israel you will see that swift punishment didn’t deter Achan. Achan’s parents sinned and died for their sins because they were from the grumbling generation. Achan witnessed Moses not being allowed to enter the Promised Land because of his sin but that didn’t deter Achan either. Witnessing the punishment of others for sins committed doesn’t always deter, and in this situation Achan wasn’t deterred.
We still have those one percent undeterred people today. So how do we live with the consequences of their sins? It isn’t pleasant and it isn’t easy but it can be done if we trust God to provide all our needs. For some that need is financial. The breadwinner sins and there are consequences, perhaps they are fired or perhaps they are imprisoned or there is a divorce that causes financial hardship for the innocent. For others it may be living with the grief of someone who dies. God can comfort you and God will provide for you, God will take care of you, lean on Him. I know this to be true from personal experience. In whatever situation you find yourself, trust God to take care of you and comfort you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6, (NIV).
Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Proverbs 28:26, (NIV).
How do you trust in the Lord? By accepting Jesus Christ into your heart and acknowledge that Jesus is God’s only Son and then be baptized in the newness of life. You then receive the Holy Spirit as your guide and comforter. Learn all you can from the Bible and apply what you are learning to your daily life and you will live a peace filled life because you are at peace with God! Of course this doesn’t always mean your life will be easy, there will still be difficult times that come but you will be capable of handling those times because of God’s reservoir of strength and wisdom to rely upon. Remember what the Apostle Paul stated in Romans.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:5-11, (NIV).
I am deeply sorry if you are dealing with the consequences of a situation that has been created by someone else’s sins. It is not easy to be on the receiving end of their sin. But you are not alone. There are many who have walked that road before you and many who learned to forgive as you must forgive today. Hang in there because there are better days ahead! God is good and wants good for you today, tomorrow, and for eternity.