"Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods."
One great besetting sin of ancient Israel was idolatry, and the spiritual Israel are vexed with a tendency to the same folly. Remphan's star shines no longer, and the women weep no more for Tammuz, but Mammon still intrudes his golden calf, and the shrines of pride are not forsaken. Self in various forms struggles to subdue the chosen ones under its dominion, and the flesh sets up its altars wherever it can find space for them. Favourite children are often the cause of much sin in believers; the Lord is grieved when he sees us doting upon them above measure; they will live to be as great a curse to us as Absalom was to David, or they will be taken from us to leave our homes desolate. If Christians desire to grow thorns to stuff their sleepless pillows, let them dote on their dear ones.
It is truly said that "they are no gods," for the objects of our foolish love are very doubtful blessings, the solace which they yield us now is dangerous, and the help which they can give us in the hour of trouble is little indeed. Why, then, are we so bewitched with vanities? We pity the poor heathen who adore a god of stone, and yet worship a god of gold. Where is the vast superiority between a god of flesh and one of wood? The principle, the sin, the folly is the same in either case, only that in ours the crime is more aggravated because we have more light, and sin in the face of it. The heathen bows to a false deity, but the true God he has never known; we commit two evils, inasmuch as we forsake the living God and turn unto idols. May the Lord purge us all from this grievous iniquity!
"The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
And worship only thee."
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible."
1 Peter 1:23
Peter most earnestly exhorted the scattered saints to love each other "with a pure heart fervently" and he wisely fetched his argument, not from the law, from nature, or from philosophy, but from that high and divine nature which God hath implanted in his people. Just as some judicious tutor of princes might labour to beget and foster in them a kingly spirit and dignified behaviour, finding arguments in their position and descent, so, looking upon God's people as heirs of glory, princes of the blood royal, descendants of the King of kings, earth's truest and oldest aristocracy, Peter saith to them, "See that ye love one another, because of your noble birth, being born of incorruptible seed; because of your pedigree, being descended from God, the Creator of all things; and because of your immortal destiny, for you shall never pass away, though the glory of the flesh shall fade, and even its existence shall cease." It would be well if, in the spirit of humility, we recognized the true dignity of our regenerated nature, and lived up to it. What is a Christian? If you compare him with a king, he adds priestly sanctity to royal dignity. The king's royalty often lieth only in his crown, but with a Christian it is infused into his inmost nature. He is as much above his fellows through his new birth, as a man is above the beast that perisheth. Surely he ought to carry himself, in all his dealings, as one who is not of the multitude, but chosen out of the world, distinguished by sovereign grace, written among "the peculiar people" and who therefore cannot grovel in the dust as others, nor live after the manner of the world's citizens. Let the dignity of your nature, and the brightness of your prospects, O believers in Christ, constrain you to cleave unto holiness, and to avoid the very appearance of evil.
Achan, Achar, Achor
[Ā'chăn,Ā'chär, Ā'chôr] - trouble. The son of Carmi of the tribe of Judah (Josh. 7; 1 Chron. 2:7).
The Man Who Brought Trouble to a Nation
It did not take Joshua long to discover that his defeat at Ai, after a succession of victories, was due to some transgression of the divine covenant (Josh. 7:8-12 ). Thus, as the result of an inquiry, Achan was exposed as the transgressor, and confessing his sin in stealing and hiding part of the spoil taken at the destruction of Jericho, was put to death in consequence. In keeping with the custom of those days, Achan was probably stoned with his immediate relatives, and their dead bodies burned - the latter making punishment more terrible in the eyes of the Israelites.
Achan was put to death in "the valley of Achor" meaning "the valley of trouble" - the valley being called atter Achan who had been the troubler of Israel (Josh. 7:25, 26). Thus in 1 Chronicles 2:7 Achan is spelled as Achar. But "the valley of trouble" became a "door of hope" all of which is spiritually suggestive (Isa. 65:10; Hos. 2:15).
I. Covetousness means defeat. God had forbidden anyone taking to himself the spoils of Jericho, but one man, only oneamongst all the hosts of Israel, disobeyed and brought failure upon all. Achan's sin teaches us the oneness of the people of God. "Israel hath sinned" (Josh. 7:11 ). The whole cause of Christ can be delayed by the sin, neglect or lack of spirituality of one person (1 Cor. 5:1-7; 12:12, 14, 26).
II. The whole process of sin. Along with Eve and David in their respective sins, Achan also saw, coveted and took. James expresses the rise, progress and end of sin when he says that man is "drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (Jas. 1:14, 15 ). The inward corruption of Achan's heart was first drawn forth by enticing objects - desire of gratification was then formed - ultimately determination to attain was fixed.
III. Prayer was rejected for action. When the most unexpected defeat of Ai came about, Joshua fell on his face before the Lord, and earnestly asked for an explanation of the reverse. But God said, "Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? ...Take away the accursed thing" (Josh. 7:10, 13). God cannot hear and bless if there is sin in the camp. For often we acknowledge the greatness of our national sins, but fail to drag out our personal sins testifying against us. Once Achan was discovered and judged, Israel went forward to victory.
IV. The richness of divine mercy. When the accursed thing was removed and chastisement exercised, triumph quickly followed trouble. The valley of Achor became a door of hope. The locust-eaten years are restored. Confession and forgiveness open closed lips, quicken dormant energies and liberate power in the service of the Lord.
Today's reading: 1 Kings 16-18, Luke 22:47-71 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: 1 Kings 16-18 1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu son of Hanani concerning Baasha: 2 "I lifted you up from the dust and appointed you ruler over my people Israel, but you followed the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people Israel to sin and to arouse my anger by their sins. 3 So I am about to wipe out Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat. 4 Dogs will eat those belonging to Baasha who die in the city, and birds will feed on those who die in the country...."
Today's New Testament reading: Luke 22:47-71
47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"
49 When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him....