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. Joshua 7:10-11 (NLT)
During the conquest of the Promised Land Joshua led many battles and conquered many cities; some of these victories were against all odds. The victories were so lop-sided and complete that the Israelites gained a reputation of being unbeatable!
Then came Ai.
Ai was among the smallest of cities, so Joshua only sent 3,000 troops in to do the job. They got clobbered! When the defeated platoon came running back to camp Joshua and the elders prayed all night asking God “what went wrong?”
God was more than willing to unpack that for Joshua. In a previous battle at Jericho (See Joshua 6), the Lord had instructed Israel to conquer, but destroy the city entirely – without taking so much as a crust of bread or a dish as spoils of the war.
One man, Achan, just couldn’t resist. He took and hid some stuff, thinking nobody saw.
But God saw.
And at the next battle (of Ai) the strength of Israel’s army was gone. The mighty conquering Israelites were rejected and sent away with their tails between their legs like whipped dogs.
All because of sin in the camp.
Many are accustomed to thinking of the church as the “new Israel”. We call ourselves the children of God. And rightfully so…there is much in New Testament theology to warrant this kind of thinking. But there is a point at which we, in American church culture, do not wish to continue the comparison. That point is usually when we start talking about sin in the camp.
Achan’s sin involved theft from God. Integrity in financial responsibility is a given in Scripture, and it is evident why God had to make an issue of it. Giving helps us recognize that we are accountable to God’s ownership of everything.
Giving is also good for us. It teaches us kindness and the fragile nature of life; the person we see in need today could very well be me tomorrow.
But we in the church, this “new Israel”, don’t really know Biblical (or Godly) giving. In American churches we give roughly twice as much to charity as secular people.
But that statement loses its luster when you understand that secular giving is a little less than 1% of income. So Christians, people “committed” as God’s people to Biblical giving and generosity, tithing 10% (or more) give a little less than 2%.
Simple math: That’s sin in the camp.
Simple conclusion: Forget all the other so-called sins – LGBTQ agenda, political correctness, divorce and remarriage, smoking and dancing…the church is anemic and ineffective in its mission primarily because its people rob God. And that won’t change until we quit.
For You, Today…
Take out your checkbook and your W-2.