Article 26 : Thoughts from the cross trainer - No man is an Island

In the West, we’re so used to thinking that it’s all about the individual. As that famous philosopher(!), Frank Sinatra, sang “I did it MY way!” But, in biblical times, people had a much stronger understanding that it was so much more about ‘community’.

Let’s see what we can learn from the life of Achan.

In Joshua Chapter 6 we read about the strange strategy that God gave to Joshua to take the city of Jericho, by getting all the Israelites to march silently around the city for 6 days. Then, on the 7th day, they were to march around it six times in silence and, on the 7th time at the sound of the trumpet, they were to give a loud shout and to see the wall collapse.

A very odd strategy, we might think! However, it’s one where none of the Israelites could take any glory for themselves. They hadn’t had to fight or construct battering rams to bring down the wall. All they had to do was obey God to the letter.

Joshua had given these instructions to the Israelites:

18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”

However, we see from what happened to the Israelites next in Chapter 7, that Achan had his own ideas about that!

The next place for them to conquer was Ai. Joshua sent spies to assess the situation there and decided that he only need send 2–3 thousand men to take this city, so as to not weary his men. But, they were routed by the men of Ai and 36 were killed. When this was reported to Joshua, this is what he did:

6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, "Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies?”

But THIS was God’s response:

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

Then began a process of exposing who the man was who’d violated God’s commands. Achan was singled out and he, and all who belonged to him, were destroyed.

His disobedience had massive consequences for his whole nation and 36 families were devastated at the loss of their loved ones.

Let’s look in contrast at the life of David, where we see that the obedience of one man saved the nation. In 1 Samuel 17 we read the very well–known account of David and Goliath. As many of us will know, Goliath came out onto the battle field every day for 40 days to taunt the army of Israel and challenge someone to come and fight him, with the winner taking the whole victory for their army.

No–one had been willing, until David came along. David refused the offer of Saul’s armour to wear in the fight and, instead of a sword, chose 5 smooth stones from the stream. He ran out to confront Goliath and with his first sling shot struck him in the forehead and then, using Goliath’s own sword, he cut off his head and so won the victory on behalf of the entire army and nation.

Here was a young man who had faithfully guarded his father’s sheep, even killing a lion and a bear to protect them. He’d developed a character of courage and responsibility and a trust in his God who had delivered him.

He’d prepared for this battle well by choosing smooth stones from the brook. The action of the water flowing over the stones and the friction of being rubbed against the other stones had taken off any rough edges that may have snagged on the sling and also made them more aerodynamic and therefore more accurate in flight! His experience gained over the years had really come in useful!

And now, here’s the cool part where you get a BOGOF (buy one, get one free!) deal in this illustration!

Not only is David an example, for us to follow, of a man who’d developed his character and skills over the years to prepare him for this encounter with Goliath, but we also have a picture of David [– representing Jesus], and the stones he used to kill Goliath [– representing us!]

As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We are called living stones and the river of the presence of God has been flowing over our lives. Over these last many years, the Lord has been transforming us from the inside out. For example, as we’ve gone on Encounter, where we’ve experienced the Holy Spirit moving powerfully on our lives and bringing healing and transformation.

We’ve also ministered to each other in our small groups and seen Him bring deep change. Our rough edges have been smoothed away through relationship, so we’re able to be used more effectively for the kingdom. We’ve learned to live being accountable to each other, being transparent and honouring and serving each other without competition or jealousy.

So, we have a choice. We can either choose to go our own way, relying on our own wisdom to get us through these challenging times, doing our own thing, like Achan did, with disastrous results, or, we can submit, as living stones in the hands of the Lord to be used to bring down the giants that are threatening us all. These could be the giants of fear, isolation, hopelessness and helplessness.

We’ll do this by listening closely to His voice and obeying Him. Pastor Tim reminded us that John Bevere had encouraged him always to obey the Lord “straight away, all the way and in a happy way!”

Our Father is encouraging us, as in Chikezi’s dream, to put our hand in His and to trust Him for each step along the way.

God is using these unprecedented circumstances to bring about His plans and purposes!

As it says in the Psalms … “Selah” – stop and ponder on this!


by Ev Cowan Blog #7, 27/10/2020