- Here, you have a nation that shows such faith in God as to send only a few thousand men to conquer Ai, yet He didn't bother to warn them at all about the licking they were about to receive at the hands of their enemies & the loss of 36 lives.
- Further, it says in verse 1 that "the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things" -- because of the actions of ONE man the whole is judged unfaithful.
- In verse 10, we're left with the notion that God doesn't want Joshua to pray any longer about an event that had to be extremely disturbing to the Israelites. When coupled with another passage, I get the distinct impression that God gets tired of our blubbering after a while. There comes a point where supplication is rendered void & action is required. Sure, that makes sense, but given all the other eccentricities of this passage it is still unsettling on some level.
- Once Israel narrows it down to Achan, he confesses that it was indeed him. Hey, at least he didn't pull a Rafael Palmeiro or a Roger Clemens. Or pull a Pete Rose & try to benefit off his "confession," if you can call it that after YEARS of categorical denials only to finally tell the truth by releasing a book to make money off of it (... what a sleazy guy!). Achan is a man & at the least owns up to his sin. And for this, he is stoned.
- And not only do they stone Achan, but his family with him. And we have no idea whether or not they were even complicit in Achan's deed. Or even knew about it!
I was listening to some Randy Harris from the Tulsa Workshop today, and he took on this passage. He expressed experiencing many of the same troubles that I listed above. Usually, when I think this passage or preach it, I talk about sin. And I talk about how serious God is about sin, holiness, etc. But that's not what Randy addressed.
Randy said that our main problem with this passage that we've never expressed is how sickeningly community-oriented the Israelites were... at least, to us. We embrace such an exorbitant individualism and it is such an epidemic in our culture that the implications of living in community appear almost perverse to us. The therapists among us might even call it "unhealthy." There is spectrum of dependence vs. independence, and we must seek to strike the "healthy balance" of interdependence. At least, that's what I was taught in Christian Home at HU.
God holds the entire nation responsible for the actions of one man. ONE. We don't take responsibility for the deficiencies around us, do we? MLB Commissioner Bud Selig refused to apologize last week for his culpability. A culture of rampant illegal drug usage spirals out of control on his watch, but it was the fault of the individuals who made those decisions. No one has even begun to lay blame at the feet of simple fans like me, even though I continue to purchase apparel, subscribe to MLB.tv each season, and play fantasy baseball. I continue to support a dirty sport, and have not done my part to hold the leaders & participants of the sport accountable for their misdeeds. No, rather, fans like me are either too apathetic to care or too cynical to think anything can be done, so we settle for a synthetic product.
How about more life applicable examples? Abilene Christian University recently apologized to African-Americans for how that institution & its supporting churches treated them in generations past. Why did they do that? Scarcely anyone that is a part of that institution today played a role in that. But at least on this issue, ACU gets it, because they are promoting a sense of community that even shares the responsibility of the misdeeds of their predecessors.
Randy Harris asked if we take responsibility for what's been happening in Sudan? Or all the turmoil of the Middle East, or previously, Eastern Europe? Because we all constitute "the nations."
This contemporary Evangelical business about our "personal relationship with God" that is buoyed by hymns with lyrics like "My God and I walk through the meadow's hue" & "He walks with me & He talks with me"... it's a little off-center. We would do well to re-examine the sense of community promoted within Scripture & the implications that holds for ourselves and what we teach.