Achan’s sin has often been used and misused to identify sin in the life of Christians today. But what does it mean in its original context? And how should we apply it today? Here are ten things about Achan, his sin, God’s wrath, and God’s grace, all found in Joshua 7.
1. Joshua 7 is not (primarily) about prayerlessness or sinful self-reliance.
What is Joshua 7 about? Many want to single out Joshua’s lack of prayer or the spies foolish self-confidence as the problem in Joshua 7. Others want to commend Joshua for taking the next step into the land without waiting. Wryly, Dale Ralph Davis cites these conflicting interpretations and observes,
One expositor blames Joshua for acting without prayer while another commends him for acting with haste; one says it was bad that action was taken without prayer, yet the other claims it was good to have action without sloth. We are at hermeneutical sea unless we take seriously the writer’s own intention as expressed in verse 1. (Joshua, 59)
Indeed, Joshua 7 demonstrates many evidences of the author’s intention and by paying attention to the literary shape of the passage, we can see that God’s presence and the satisfaction of God’s wrath stand at the center of this story. Continue reading →
Think of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. It tells the story of Jesus and his disciples sitting down for the final meal before the crucifixion. Jesus would drink the Passover cup before being sacrificed as the Passover lamb.
The good news of Jesus is more than a story. But it’s not less. It is the most important story on the planet. And it is the truest of true stories. Many have attempted to paint pictures that rightly tell the story of the gospel. Sometimes these paintings are painted with words, instead of paint and a canvas.
These gospel paintings are often necessary because the gospel must be explained. It is a message made up of propositional truth. That means it must be understood. John Piper writes, “the gospel is not only news. It is first news, and then it is doctrine. Doctrine means teaching, explaining, clarifying. Doctrine is part of the gospel because news can’t be just declared by the mouth of a herald—it has to be understood in the mind of the hearer” (Piper, God is the Gospel, 21).
In order for hearer’s to understand the gospel, a number of different word pictures have been painted. Some compare the gospel to paying your speeding ticket, or serving your prison sentence. Like creation itself, the word-pictures available are gloriously endless.
One such picture is that of amnesty. The good news of Jesus is compared to a government, possibly a king, declaring amnesty to those who have committed a crime against the state. The question is whether or not the picture of amnesty is the best picture to paint. Continue reading →
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”
Matthew 5:7 was the text I preached yesterday. In my sermon, I answered three questions:
Does God show mercy to everyone?
Why does Jesus say “Blessed are the merciful” instead of “Blessed are the faithful?”
What does mercy look like?
In answering that final question, I gave the answer: True mercy gives generously and forgives sincerely in order to increase thanksgiving to God (cf. Rom 15:8-9). In response to the mercies of God (i.e., the gospel), mercy proactively schemes, plans, and prays for the increase of thanksgiving to God by means of our giving to those in need and forgiving those who have offended us. In short, genuine mercy involves giving and thanksgiving in order to cause thanksgiving to God.
If you have struggled with understanding how we can be merciful, or if you—like me—have struggled to be merciful, consider this beatitude which calls us to cry out for mercy, so that we too might be merciful!