August 14, 2012

Waiting for God's Gifts

Joshua 7:1-5

But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things.
—Joshua 7:1


Heaven and earth are intimately connected. Because one man had stolen from the Lord’s treasury, heaven refused to lead Israel’s earthly battle against Ai. God abandoned Israel to its own strategy and strength, and some of God’s people died in the battle that day. And no one knew why, except Achan.

We who read the Bible today also know why Israel failed: the Bible tells us that Achan stole from God. Earth is inescapably connected to heaven.

When God’s people depend on their own strength to arrange kingdom matters in God’s name, it forfeits heaven’s blessing. That happens when, like Achan, we embezzle from heaven’s treasury because we don’t want to wait for God to share the good things of his kingdom (Joshua 8:2). Soldiers in the Lord’s army learn to deny themselves, to act only on the Lord’s instructions, to wait for his gifts.

Sometime after Christ sent the Holy Spirit to the church, Ananias and Sapphira lied about their contributions for the church (Acts 5:1-10). They died for their deceit, and the church learned again to fear the power of God. Their story, like that of Achan, was written so that Christ’s followers may grow in self-denial and wait for the Lord’s blessing.

May we listen to all that the Spirit says to us.

Help your people on earth, Lord, to do your heavenly will, so that you may be glorified and your people may grow in grace. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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