I’ve been reading through the book of Joshua recently. Normally when I read Old Testament events regarding Israel, I don’t necessarily feel like they have a direct application today. Am I wrong? Maybe.
I do think they are insightful into God’s character and valuable to understanding our faith. Chapter 7 of Joshua hit me differently. Maybe it’s because of events going on in our country and in the “church” in America. Maybe it’s because so many groups seem to have co-opted the word “church” without really belonging to the body of Christian believers. Whatever the reason, when I read it, as I thought about God’s character and his disposition towards his people, I couldn’t help but think of how that applied today.
In Joshua 7:1 we find, depending on translation, that the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, that it was kindled against Israel, or that the Lord was furious with Israel. Why? Achan had taken things into the camp that were described as devoted, devoted to destruction, forbidden, or he is described as acting unfaithfully in regards to things under the ban.
The rest of the chapter deals with the adverse effects of bringing the forbidden into the camp. It deals with searching out the offenders and removing them, in a most permanent way, and restoring God’s people to a right relationship. To be clear, I am not calling for burning anyone and their household in what follows.
I am wondering if the church, God’s people today, have brought in things that are forbidden. Perhaps strongholds that should be demolished (2 Corinthians 10:4) have instead been looked at with greedy hearts and brought into our camp. Are we accepting banned things into our teachings in the church? I think we are. I implore you, if you’re claiming the name of Christ… READ. YOUR. BIBLE. Don’t just assume that what someone is telling you it says is truth, read it yourself.
If we have done this thing, we should search it out and repent of it. Jesus is quite clear that he will come against the church in Pergamum with a sword (Revelation 2:16) for holding to teachings they ought not. In Thyatira, the church tolerated “Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess” and those who practiced adultery with her are promised great tribulation (Revelation 2:20-23).
In his own words, our Lord did not come to bring a worldly peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34). The Rider on the White Horse comes in a robe dipped in blood, making war on the nations, treading out the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God, and rules the nations with an iron scepter (Revelation 19:11-16). It is not hard to imagine that same God having his anger burn against the church when it has gone astray or brought in things that are forbidden and devoted to destruction.
I pray that all believers would have peace. Not a false peace of being comfortable around everybody and never being offended or offensive. Not a peace with the world, but a peace with The Creator. I pray God’s people will be bold and protect the truth by removing the forbidden, and those bringing it in, from within the church.