This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for July 3) is written by Caleb Kaltenbach, senior minister with Valley View Christian Church in Dallas, Texas.
God Responds to Disobedience (Joshua 7:1, 10-12, 22-26)
By Caleb Kaltenbach
Some subjects make us squirm in our seats. Disobedience is one of them . . . mainly because we all can identify with it. We disobey the speed laws, our parents, our employers, etc. As a matter of fact, some of us disobey the rules so frequently we don’t think much of it. God, however, thinks about disobedience a lot, and a story in Joshua 7 teaches how God interacts with us when we disobey.
Disobedience Never Results in God’s Blessing
In Joshua 5 and 6, God told Joshua he was delivering the city of Jericho to Israel. He gave the Israelites specific instructions on how to conquer the city (Joshua 6:1-7). Israel fulfilled those orders, and the city of Jericho fell. All seemed well, and Joshua set his sights on Ai.
We soon learn in Joshua 7:1, however, that an Israelite named Achan had taken some of the “devoted things” (described in Joshua 7:21 as a robe and money). In Joshua 6:18, God had warned Israel to “keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them.” Achan deliberately disobey God by doing exactly the opposite of what had been commanded.
We find ourselves under God’s blessing when we are in his will and walking in his ways (1 John 2:17). This doesn’t mean that by walking in his will we become healthy, wealthy, and prosperous. The Bible shows us examples to the contrary. Some of God’s greatest servants suffered terribly as they walked in his will (for example, Joseph, Moses, Isaiah, Paul, etc.). They didn’t view a blessing as something to be gained in this world. Rather, they looked to the next world and were compelled by their love for God to obey him. We should have that same motivation.
Our Disobedience Effects Others
One of the things Achan didn’t foresee was how his actions would hurt Israel as a whole. In Joshua 7:3-5, Joshua decided to take the city of Ai. This city was smaller than Jericho, and shouldn’t have required as many men to take as had Jericho. Unfortunately, the warriors of Israel were defeated by a much smaller city. In Joshua 7:6-10, Joshua goes to the Lord in confusion and fear of what other nations will do when they hear of Israel’s defeat.
It’s amazing how our sin can impact others. Actually, there isn’t one sin that doesn’t hurt another person. Lust hurts marriages. Gossip hurts reputations. Depression and low self-esteem rob others of a relationship with us. Pride compromises our spiritual gifts, since we depend on self more than God. Before we choose to disobey God, we need to think how our sin will affect people around us.
Disobedience Results in God’s Discipline
God says our sin will find us out (Numbers 32:23). Joshua asks Achan to “give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel and honor him. Tell me what you have done” (Joshua 7:19). Finally in verses 20 and 21, Achan confesses the sin he committed. He ultimately pays a hefty price, for he is stoned for his sin, as God had promised in Deuteronomy 17:5.
God is bound by his character to discipline us when we disobey. He disciplines us in many ways. He may allow us to suffer full consequences for our actions or he might bring special discipline on us. However, there is good news concerning God’s discipline: He corrects us because he sees us as his children (Hebrews 12:7-11). Discipline may hurt in the moment, but it is for the greater good.
The other day I came home and found both of my kids being disobedient to their mother. That resulted in discipline for both of them that night. I personally hate to discipline my children, but I love to see them mature as a result of the discipline.
Through discipline, God is shaping us into the image of his Son. It should comfort us to know God loves us so much that he’s not content to leave us as we are. That is true love!
Here’s the best kind of love, though: Ezekiel 18:4 says, “The one who sins is the one who will die.” We all sin, we all disobey, and God in his loving sovereignty sent his Son to die on the cross for us. When we sin, we will be disciplined, but Jesus keeps us in God’s love.
Be thankful for discipline today. It shows that God loves you!
*Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|June 27: Joshua 7:2-9|
|June 28: Joshua 7:12-15|
|June 29: Joshua 7:16-21|
|June 30: Romans 6:15-23|
|July 1: John 16:4b-11|
|July 2: Romans 6:1-11|
|July 3: Joshua 7:1, 10-12, 22-26|
ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Caleb Kaltenbach is senior pastor with Valley View Christian Church in Dallas, Texas. He is a graduate of Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri, and Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, La Mirada, California. He is studying for his doctor of ministry at Dallas (Texas) Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Amy, have two children and love the Lone Star State.