In our passage today we see the severe consequences of sin.
Here we are given to see what sin is and what sin does and how many suffer its consequences. Here we learn how terribly serious life is and how deadly can be the consequences of unfaithfulness even among the people of God. Here we learn how much is at stake when we toy with the Lord’s summons to obedience instead of embracing it with heart and soul and strength and mind. God is a God of infinite mercy and love, absolutely; but he is also a God of judgment. It is not ours to explain the ways of God; but it is absolutely essential that we recognize them and reckon with them. Life is indeed beautiful; but it is also a deadly serious thing, a dangerous thing.
Achan thought he would get away with taking those treasures. What he never imagined as he was reaching for them was that not only would he be found out but that his whole family would be destroyed as a result of what he was doing at that moment. As the apostle Paul would remark more than a thousand years later, “Behold the goodness and the severity of God!”
We cannot hide our sin from God.
Our sin often has severe consequences, not only to ourselves, but also the people around us. We don't need to read the newspaper headlines very long to find that out.
God is a God of mercy, but He is also a God of judgment. We should never presume upon the grace and mercy of God by minimizing our sin.
We also see Joshua make the mistake of assuming he knew best instead of asking God for counsel in regard to the Gibeonites, even though he knew the possibility of deception was there. Rayburn likens this to marriage, where (most often) women want to marry so desperately that they ignore warning signs and convince themselves their intended husband is better than he is, and refuses to hear any counsel to the contrary; only to have the deception revealed after the vows are made. What hardship could be avoided if we take seriously the unreliability of our own hearts and minds, and instead rely on the wisdom of wise counsel and, ultimately, the Lord. Particularly because a promise made, even under false pretenses, still has to be kept.
The amazing thing is that God honoured Joshua's faithfulness to keep this covenant. Joshua assigned the Gibeonites to work for the sanctuary where they were exposed to the worship of God and came to faith - as evidenced in the Gibeonite descendants who returned from exile with the Jews from Babylon (Nehemiah 7:25), and in the Gibeonites who assisted in rebuilding the walls (Nehemiah 3:7). There are now Gibeonites in heaven - where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more!
We also see this principle in the story of the prodigal son. Unlike the "good" son, whose heart was like the Pharisees and who relied on his good works, the prodigal son recognized his sin and unworthiness, and relied on his father's mercy. May we be wise enough to recognize our dependence on God - for mercy, for faith, for wisdom, for everything.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Joshua 10-12; Luke 16