Are you familiar with Achan? He is a man who comes to prominence in the Old Testament book of Joshua.
His great claim to fame is that he stole, got caught, and died. Dude.
I had an occasion to think about Achan, why he did what he did, and how his legacy lives inside of me, and maybe you. Why not join me and see if you cry out like I did, "Oh! My Achan Heart!"
The Story of Achan - Background
But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.
Joshua Doesn't Understand
But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.
“Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.
“In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the Lord will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the Lord will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the Lord will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one. The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”
Achan's Sin Revealed
Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Judah was singled out. Then the clans of Judah came forward, and the clan of Zerah was singled out. Then the families of Zerah came forward, and the family of Zimri was singled out. Every member of Zimri’s family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out. Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.” Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.”
So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achan had said, with the silver buried beneath the rest. They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the Lord. Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.” And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.
New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Set the Record Straight - Today
Now, lest you read this and think the same rules apply today, let me get some things straight for you.
The children of Israel were subject to the Mosaic Law in order to be declared righteous before the Lord. The Bible tells us that the law was a tutor, given to us until the Lord Jesus came. In the New Testament, the Bible tells us that Jesus has fulfilled all the Law and commandments, and erased the "handwriting of the law" against us. So, today you are set free. The Mosaic Law was given to prove we cannot be righteous in our own merits, strength, or efforts. Our righteousness and sufficiency to please God are only through Christ Jesus.
I know the Old Testament is a tricky collection of books to put into perspective in today's world. So, if you want to ask me any questions about this, you can always contact me.
What We Learn from Achan's Story
If you know the pre-Ai story of Joshua and the children of Israel, you know that the Lord gave them a great victory at Jericho. I'm sure you've heard the story. If not, read it here.
But, there is a principle here that sometimes gets overlooked.
The Lord God promised continual victory to the children of Israel. It was His land and He was giving it to them. Yet, there was one caveat...all of the gold and precious things discovered in Jericho were to be reserved for the Lord.
“Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.”
Doubt, Fear and a Poverty Mindset
I believe that Achan's trouble was not greed. I believe it was doubt and fear.
He was afraid that he wouldn't get any more opportunity to gather riches.
Doubt filled his mind. Even though God hadn't failed him, he was unsure the Lord would really provide for his and his family's needs.
He was concerned if he didn't take his chance now, he'd end up poverty stricken.
And before you give him a bunch of grief, remember this, his heritage was slavery. His parents had been slaves. Most likely, he was born a slave in Egypt. He had witnessed the gathering of riches from the Egyptians and then the free-will offering of gold, silver, precious gems and cloth given to the building of the Tabernacle.
Achan lived life in the wilderness with the Lord providing for every meal (manna), water from rocks, a cloud to cover him day by day, and a fire to lead him every night. Oh, and his clothes and shoes never wore out.
Yet, now they were in the Promised Land and all of that daily supernatural provision had stopped. Instead of gathering daily manna, they were to gather produce from the land.
The LORD God never failed to provide a meal, clothing, covering and protection. Achan's heart couldn't grasp the fact that though things were different, his God wasn't.
What Achan didn't realize was that the Lord was going to give them all the plunder from the rest of the land. Jericho was a city of dedication.
How I Discovered My Achan Heart
Ugh. Honesty. Transparency. Truth. Freedom.
From 2012 through today, I have been the recipient of what I believe to be, a supernatural overflow and blessing. Though Richard has battled severe illness, we have been provided income and resources that have allowed me to stay at home, for our bills to be paid, and even to buy a new car two years ago.
It hasn't always been easy, and we have accrued some debt. But, we've never missed a payment on anything. Our apartments, though smaller than our original home in Midland, have been lovely and filled with peace. Always, just when we need it, the Lord provides what we need.
I received a financial gift, as a result of my mom's passing on to heaven. I knew the righteous thing to do would be to give an offering of the money to my new-found church home. But, to be honest, I've dealt with a poverty mindset on and off for most of my life. It is a battle I know well and I recognized the force of the warfare as soon as it hit.
Fear of loss i's also a part of the legacy my mom passed on. See, she was a child of the dust-bowl depression. She lived a life of slavery to the elements, harsh taskmasters who cheated her family out of land and supply, and the death of loved ones due to the conditions.
She raised us with an attitude that, "you never know if you will have anything tomorrow, so be careful today." However, I interpreted that as, "you never know if you will have anything tomorrow, so spend today." SMH
I haven't always made the right choices. But, God has always seen me through.
And so, now that we are entering our place of rest; living near our children, Richard feeling strong and well, AND nearing the end of his long-term insurance disability, etc. - I found myself with a grasping, fearful, Achan heart. Here I am, in a place of dedication. I have a choice to make: faith or fear.
Grace, Grace and More Grace
I don't believe God will curse me if I don't give. I definitely don't believe the Lord will knock me or my family down with a pestilence or kill me.
Jesus has redeemed me from all the curse of the Law. (Galatians 3:13)
This is what I know...I can't live in the fullness of freedom and rest, when I am held by fear. You won't live in fullness if you are held by fear, either.
Faith tells my heart that everything I need will continue to be supplied. Fear yells in my mind to keep back the gift "just in case" I need it later. The battle needs a decisive win.
Fear steals the confidence we cherish. It takes our eyes off the One who supplies. And, a poverty mindset makes us hold back anything we are afraid we won't or can't get more of: time, love, joy, hope, resources, adventure. Either we waste what we have, or we withhold it from ourselves and others.
And so, I made a decision to do something powerful to break out of the poverty mindset, along with the fear of Achan. Because I did, today I am not only free spiritually, I'm free emotionally as well.
The Battle of Faith and Fear
It's not about what you hold. The problem is - what holds you.
As entrepreneurs we live on the wild and woolly side of comfort. We are geared to live a little dangerously when it comes to regular income and stability. Entrepreneurs know that everything is a little dicey. And, until we create a stable system our revenue is likely to be up and down.
But, I want to ask you this question: What holds your heart? Where does fear rule? What is tough for you to let go of, so you can have the abundance of the Promise?
It might not be money. It could be sleep, or tv or gaming. What sets up a chain reaction of fear when you think about letting it go?
Faith requires you to open your hands, open your heart, and trust that the Lord has a good plan for your life.
You see, it might be a test for you just like it was for me. Are you willing to do the thing that scares you so you can have the full outpouring over your life? Poverty is more than about lack of money.
Do you lack joy or peace or hope? Are you thirsty for more, though you are giving it your all?
Achan's rebellion to faith brought pain to more than just himself. His family and his nation paid the price. Your fear affects your family, and the people you are called to influence and serve.
Listen, I'm not typically one to promote a hard sell, but this is important. You get to choose whether to live in more freedom, or stay shackled to the fear holding you hostage - in slavery - at it's whim.
Only you can answer these questions. But, I want to encourage you that if you observe something in your own life that makes you cry out "Oh! My Achan heart!" that you'll take the plunge.
Test the Lord. He never fails.
The Story of This Song - Gavin Byers
The Story of this Song - Gavin Byers
Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet
In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song - sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads - and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet". This was not ultimately used in the film and I was given all the unused sections of tape, including this one.
When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song - 13 bars in length - formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.
I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man's singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the tramp's nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism.
The piece was originally recorded on Brian Eno's Obscure label in 1975 and a substantially revised and extended version for Point Records in 1993. The version which is played by my ensemble was specially created in 1993 to coincided with this last recording.
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