The text for this lesson is Joshua 7:10–26
- God commands that we respect our neighbor’s things. Yet He forgives our sins for the sake of His Son, who paid their price on the cross.
- Law: Like Achan, who coveted and took items that belonged to another and had been dedicated to the Lord, I also break the Seventh Commandment whenever I am dishonest or fail to help my neighbor protect what is his.
- Gospel: Jesus is God in the flesh, and all that I have belongs to Him. He never broke the Seventh Commandment but instead took my sins to the cross, purging my transgressions.
- Our merciful Lord heard the anguished cry of the Israelites as they suffered under the lash of slavery in Egypt. Calling Moses to serve as His voice and earthly leader for the people, God delivered Israel, breaking Pharaoh’s will with plagues of flies, boils, hail, and finally death. While the Israelites were in the desert, God nourished the people and endowed them with the Ten Commandments. With Moses’ death, the mantle of leadership passed to Joshua. Under Joshua, the army of Israel invaded Canaan and enjoyed victory as God delivered their enemies to them. Things were going well for Israel until one of their number broke God’s law against taking the forbidden spoils of war.
God gave Israel more than sufficient evidence to trust in His provision. God severed the chain of slavery that bound Israel to Egypt. He divided the sea, allowing Israel to cross safely to freedom, and with the same sea crushed the pursuing Egyptians. He provided water from a rock and sent manna and quail to satisfy the people’s aching hunger. Now God would fulfill His promise to Abraham and bring Israel to the Promised Land, Canaan. With the passing of Moses, God supplied Israel with a new leader, Joshua, who led them through the Jordan River and into victory after victory. Despite God’s steadfast and abundant generosity, Israel transgressed His Law.
While the Lord does teach generosity and a willingness to share among His created people, and especially Christians, He is also a God of order. We are not to take what belongs to another. On the contrary, we are to assist our neighbors in keeping and improving upon all that is theirs. Often our willingness to steal is based on sinful dissatisfaction with what God has provided. In other cases, we are lazy, unwilling to allow God to provide through our own labor. Whatever the reason may be, stealing results in shame, disappointment, distance from God, and strife with our neighbors.
God is omniscient. He was aware that we would struggle with sin, including theft. However, God’s Law includes a prohibition against stealing because God is good, and God provides all we need to support this body and life by His own hand. We understand that God didn’t give us the Seventh Commandment in reaction to our sin. Nevertheless, it is a blessing to us as we traverse this sinful world. It provides structure and order. In the same way, God gave Joshua instructions on dealing with Achan’s sin for the good of the people. Had Achan’s sin gone undiscovered and unpunished, others might have doubted God’s ability to see sin or His willingness to fulfill His oath in judgment against sin. Disobedience to God might have continued and spread. What’s more, once the sin was addressed, God’s anger turned away.
Although God’s response to Achan’s sin was good and just, the Lord demonstrates grace and mercy to sinners with regard to eternal punishment. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, living in the comfort and splendor of heaven, set aside His glory to take on human flesh. Where Achan stole, Jesus only gave. The only thing Jesus ever took from us was our sins. He took them to the cross. In exchange, He gave us forgiveness and eternal life in heaven.