Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sermon Idea Number - 16 -

Suggested Titles:

How quickly we forget.
One small mistake can cost a lot.
Possessing Stuff or Giving to God

Passage:

Joshua 7

Passage Overview – some highlights:

This story clearly follows on the heels of Israel’s success at Jericho. They had worshipped there, and in the preceding chapters had covenanted to be God’s people in full consecration/circumcision – but one person backs away and things begin to fall apart. Because Achan took possession (things) and because these things represented the foreign culture (other people with other gods and other practices) God is almost immediately not with God’s people in the same way.

Important Specific Concepts:

It was important as these people went into the land that their allegiance and commitment to God was sure and secure. They needed to insure that the foundation of this new community was solid so that the community could grow on a solid foundation of faithfulness.

It is amazing in this story how one person acts poorly, but the text begins by saying that “the Israelites” using a reference to all of them. Sometimes religious communities excommunicate (and in this story they’ll stone him!), but at the same time this passage is not about our desire or zeal to do this. Rather, this story presents the graphic horror – the real pain – that is involved when people themselves choose not to be obedient. In that sense, this story doesn’t “revel” in Achan’s stoning, but reveals the pain of breaking covenant.

Note that in Joshua’s prayer, he is concerned with how God will look in the sight of the nations. From the time of Egypt, God wanted to be glorified and worshipped.

Note the speech of God to Joshua is very powerful and forceful, as if God is saying, “Hey! I didn’t fail to do my part! Israel sinned!” Notice as well that the language used to describe Achan’s activity is anti-ten-commandments “stealing,” “lying,” and not explicit early in the narrative, but in Achan’s speech he “coveted” the things.

Here, the call of God is no different than it had been before – because in the daily things the Israelites had not been the way God wanted them to be, they need to start over with “consecration.”

Note that what Achan had coveted was other cultural things – making him want to be like other nations, and not the Holy Nation God wanted them to be.

This text ends in pain and terror and “trouble” (the translation of Achor.) It does not glory in Achan’s destruction nor is it happy about it – it’s in fact remembered as a terrible event. This pile of stones is different from, but will stick around for children to remember. There is a redeeming part to this story in the prophets, where God says he will make the valley of Achor a door of hope. But here, we must be careful to point out that this text while it ends in trouble and destruction, it does not celebrate it. But there is a reminder that allegiance to God is “all or not at all.”

Ideas for Illustrations:

Any building project that fails because of a poor foundation. Or, alternatively, the need for a rock-solid foundation if someone is going to build an architectural giant building, like a skyscraper.

Perhaps the idea of how one person on a team can “throw the game” and all will lose – Pete Rose as an example (?)

Ideas for Wrapping Up - Response - Call:

A call to not seek possessions of the modern culture, but to be committed to God.

A reminder of God’s wisdom of the things we possess and the devotion God wants us to have to God “alone.”

A call to give our all to God.

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