“And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves…” ~ Joshua 8:2
When Israel went up against the city of Jericho, God commanded the army to make a complete desolation of the city. Silver, gold, and vessels of bronze and iron would go into the treasury, but the people were to keep no livestock or take any spoils for themselves. Achan disobeyed this command, resulting in his own death after the armies were defeated at the next city, Ai.
But when the nation dealt with Achan’s sin and the army was ready to defeat Ai, God issued a command different than he had with Jericho: You may take the spoils and livestock for yourselves.
Because Achan had coveted and disobeyed God (7:20-21). It cost him everything. If he had waited in patience, he would have had gained things similar to what he took in disobedience.
Part of what this teaches us is our need for patience. God commanded against covetousness, or a strong desire to obtain what others have, in the Ten Commandments. Then, Paul warned against the same in Ephesians 5:5, comparing coveting to idolatry. When we covet and desire to have what others have, we are saying to God: I can’t trust you, what you have given me isn’t enough!
God, however, promises to take care of us. Jesus taught us to avoid anxiety, seek God’s kingdom, and trust. After all, look at the flowers of the field or the birds of the air and see how the Father takes care of them. And we are far more valuable than birds and flowers (Matthew 6:25-33). Also, in Luke 18:28-30, Jesus promises far more and eternal gain for those who give up much to follow him.
But, this requires patience. In eternity, through Jesus, God promises us the world. Today, though, hardships may still come. Tomorrow we might lose everything but in eternity we will have riches untold. Are we willing to wait? Are we willing to be patient and let God provide for us in his time and his plan? Or will we try to force the issue and take for ourselves today what God intends to give us tomorrow?
Be patient. Be obedient. Set your heart on God’s promises in God’s time.
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