Discipline for My Good
Read: Joshua 7:1-9:2
When I was about five, my aunt took me to a large cafeteria-style restaurant. With so many choices it was tempting to take whatever I wanted. But I followed her instructions to take one item from each section, and I had the feast of my young life.
When Joshua’s men defeated Ai, the plunder they left behind must have been just as tempting to them as the dessert bar was to me. What a cafeteria line of goodies! But just like my aunt set loving restrictions for me, God set restrictions for Joshua and his men. They were to take the land of Ai and destroy it completely — all the people and the livestock. However, they were not to take any plunder because it was devoted to idols.
Sadly, one man could not resist the temptation, and a battle and God’s favor was unexpectedly lost. It would be easy to look at what happened to Achan and think God is a mean, harsh god. But He was teaching the Israelites an important lesson. Sin has to be taken seriously; it is an offense directly against God, and it always leads us to death.
Like a good father, God sets boundaries of love and protection. His instructions are not meant to hold us back, kill our joy or keep good things from us. Just look at what happened after Achan faced the consequence of his sin. Israel won its next battle and God told Joshua they could keep the plunder. He gave them more than they could have asked for or imagined.
If left to my own devices in that cafeteria restaurant, I would have made myself sick. In the same way that my aunt’s plans were better than mine, God’s plans are always better than what we come up with on our own. When we do life His way, it’s like having a feast every day.