Sermon on March 13, 2022


Small cause, big effect

Simon Brieden


(Joshua 7+8)

This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here


A victory of God. A promise comes true. God promised Moses to free his people from slavery in Egypt and into the promised land bring to. In a land flowing with milk and honey (…) The only problem the land was not for sale, not for negotiation and certainly not at leisure. Canaanites lived there.
We are hundreds years before Christ. God wanted His promise 40 years before meet, but at that time have 10 out of 12 scouts covering the land inspected have dissuaded the people from trusting God’s promise and the consequence was that they wandered through the desert for 40 years. 40 Years of seeing the people see God providing for them. Even if they are God did not trust, yet he provided them with bread, meat, and water. He made sure that their clothes and their shoes did not wear out.
God had said that the next generation would have a choice again and given the opportunity to enter the promised land. The Book of Joshua is about that second try, that second chance.
So we are in the midst of this adventure of the people of Israel, and God gives one victory after another. The Canaanite peoples are afraid of the people of Israel, because God always intervenes supernatural way and the peoples recognize that the true God with his people is. Joshua and the people trust God and become for it rewarded.
The Canaanites are expelled, killed, exterminated. But how does that fit? together with the loving God? The God who gave the people of Israel the 2nd
chance? Isn’t that unfair? What about second chances for them Canaanite?
Max Lucado writes in his book XXX God knew the Canaanites. He knew how evil they were. He knew her rampant violence, and more importantly, he knew her
600 years before Joshua came into the land. The verse in Genesis 15:16 proves that: “Only the fourth generation will return here; because the guilt of the Amorites who now inhabit this land is in full measure not yet reached” (GN).
God left the people there six Centuries to change. We struggle a lot when God doesn’t injustice fined. (Why didn’t God intervene to partially prevent the Holocaust?)
But sometimes we also struggle with it when he intervenes, as here in the case of the inhabitants of Canaan. So what are we supposed to do with it?
We should face this question with reverence. God is God It’s that hard may it fall to us to accept that: but he does not have to react in such a way how we react or how we think he should react. We just don’t understand how he protects people.
I don’t know about you when you think about the wars or the current one Putin’s attack on Ukraine. Few determine fate many, few decide, many suffer. Maybe that comes here in us too. Ask why doesn’t God intervene? Why isn’t he frightened End?
In the Book of Genesis we read that the measure of the Canaanites was not yet full. God had given them time, time to change. Unfortunately we only read
of an incident where someone took advantage of this probationary period. Rahab, the prostitute who hid the spies and attacked Jericho was spared with her family. God saves those who save themselves want to leave.
We quickly get to what we read in the Old Testament to condemn, wars decreed by God, total extermination of a people, but the measure was full. Just like one day it will be full and Jesus comes again and judges, the living and the dead. God is just God and I am sure that every person has a choice in his life is asked – and not just once.
Faced with the choice of acknowledging that God is God or not.

1. Small cause, big effect

I start again today in Chapter 6, with the capture of Jericho.
Joshua 6:16ff
 16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. 17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.God said that on the 7th day, when it’s the 7th time around the city marched, with the shouts of war, the walls fall down. So that everyone in the place where he was around the city that could attack Stand. There was only one rule, what they couldn’t do. They weren’t allowed to take prey do. God warned her that there would be consequences, consequences for the whole people.

That’s maybe a bit far away from us, I’m reading something that maybe is something closer to us, closer to you and me personally, even if maybe not directly, but over the next few minutes I think more and more.
Genesis 3,2ff 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
Adam and Eve, the first humans created by God. They live in Paradise, together with God. This is how God imagined life to be. In community, forever.
Back to Joshua and the people of Israel and the conquest of Jericho:
Joshua 7:1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.
Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 
Rules, who cares about rules, we know what’s good for us, we can decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong. Did God really say that and really mean it? So it probably won’t be that bad. We know that, don’t we?
Achan’s actions had drastic consequences for the people of Israel: Joshua 7:2ff
And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. 4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. 6 And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. 7 And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! 8 O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it , and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? 10 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.
Through her action, here that of a man, the whole people became cut off. Cut off from God’s work, cut off from his help and strength.
Genesis 3:7ff And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? (…)
And a few verses later the consequences follow.
In the sweat of your brow you will eat your bread until you return to the ground, for you were taken from it. Because dust you are, and to the dust you will return. (…) And the LORD God made tunics of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed her. (…) And the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. And he drove that people and made the cherubim camp east of the Garden of Eden and the flame of the flickering sword to mark the way to the tree of to guard life. Small cause, big effect.
Is it really necessary to be so petty? Adam and Eve just wanted to try, and besides, the snake, we can read that in Genesis, deceived, actually they were It’s not even entirely your own fault, is it?
Our actions have consequences, Achan took some of the loot and Israelites died in battle, the people were defeated, God was not on theirs Side. Adam and Eve bit the fruit and from then on could not live more in the presence of God. Guilt separates from God.
Where do we live today, where do we bite into the fruit, take from what God forbidden us? You don’t have to have a great imagination and you don’t have to go far look to see that we live in a fallen world. People are cruel, selfish and often only have their own interests in mind. wars, Terror, hunger, suffering. That has always been the case and will continue to be so don’t change as long as people are in charge, as long as people don’t ask for God.
But how about you and me? How often do we ask about God’s plan God’s thoughts for our life, or how often we are the lord of ours life and often do not even notice that it is not good for us because we are so are caught up in what society expects of us, what our Tasks are what our status is.
It’s easy to tell how stupid of Adam and Eve to get into the fruit bite, but if we’re honest, we also bite into it every day. How long would we have held out in paradise? How long would it have with you and with me took our selfishness and self determination to get us out of the would have thrown paradise?
The beginning of the Bible with Adam and Eve, telling the capture of Jericho our history. The story of our lives, day by day. We have we are just very used to the fact that God still loves us and cares for us.
When Adam and Eve were kicked out of paradise, God had for them Body skirts made of fur. He didn’t just throw her out, did he continued to care for them, killing animals of his creation to care for his Worrying about people, the people who betrayed him.
24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.
I’m making a big leap here now, from Adam and Eve to one prophecy in the Old Testament.
Isaiah 53:3ff
 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
You can already see that Jesus is being talked about here, hundreds of years ago Jesus’ birth, Isaiah speaks of someone suffering for his people, for his
people die.
Here we come to a big difference. Achan’s behavior will doom to all the people of Israel. The debt must be paid, a price must be paid. Achan and his family dies. Isaiah speaks of a man to be punished for a people’s guilt and transgressions carries.

2. Guilt is not the end

Joshua 8:1ff
1 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land: 2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves
Do you see what’s happening here? The people get a second chance. she have banished from their midst what separates them from God and God is gone further.
Isaiah 53:11f
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
God also gives us a second chance in Jesus and I am very happy about not stopping at second chances, how many more chances we need? Jesus dies for our guilt, he bears our transgressions and pays our place, that we may stand blameless before God, that we may be with him can go on.
And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.
For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
God gives the victory, he is with his people and this time he says explicitly, that they can take the booty with them, that they can stock up on it what they find. God wasn’t concerned with that about the rule at Jericho Don’t begrudge people anything and keep everything to yourself, he wished that the people trust him and are sure that he would take care of them with everything they need, even if they don’t have the treasures in Jericho take.
Paul writes in Romans 8:15-17
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
If we claim that Jesus is responsible for our sin on died on the cross if, with God’s help, we clean up what is left of us separates him, then the Bible speaks of our being joint heirs. co-heirs doesn’t mean we don’t have hard times, doesn’t mean we do always doing well materially and spiritually, we also see that Jesus the Son God has endured many sufferings, but co-heirs means that God us calls children and we get to call him father and we have a share will be in eternity with God.

3. Grab your 2nd chance

In the people of Israel and the salvation history of God with his people we have many parallels in our lives and thank God the Bible is full of reports from imperfect people, from people who make mistakes do, incur the guilt of running away from God. But we read also, as God desires and gives them the opportunity to be themselves to turn around, aware that there are things that they and us of Separate God, knowing that God is holy and righteous, but also knowing that he is kind and merciful, that he for us cares even when we turn our backs on him, but he loves it when we are closed turn to him and have real fellowship with us.
God wants to write history with us, he has that with the people of Israel done, that’s what he did with the apostles in the new testament and that he also wants to do with you and me. He wants supernaturally in ours life effect, he wants us to make a difference in our lives do. A difference where we are, in our families, in ours community, with our friends, our neighbors, with our Place of work. If we allow that, God places us where he has great things to do can effect us.
Let’s not settle for what we may get used to have that is convenient for us, but let’s take second chances and trusting God that he has a great plan to save our lives and surveying the possibilities and trusting that he, not us, can tear down walls and wants to use us for that. We all have the same starting point, Paul says in his letter to the
Romans in chapter 3:23:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
We are all guilty, we all would have bitten the fruit like Adam and Eva, if we’re honest, that’s what we get in our daily lives deliberately. And the Bible is very clear when it comes to the consequences goes. Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death. 
The consequence of our guilt is separation from God, and not that only temporarily, but forever. We are guilty and can blame also not make amends. The consequence is clear. God gives a way out because we can’t find one. In chapter 5,8 we read: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God takes the first step toward us, and a step here is mighty understated, God gives everything, he gives his only son to find a solution create. What’s yours, what’s my reaction to that? The Bible says in chapter 10:9:
(…) that if you confess Jesus as Lord with your mouth and in yours hearts believe that God raised him from the dead, you saved will be.
That is God’s offer, we can have fellowship again, we can live with him here on earth and eternity after our life here spend with him. The condition for this is that we recognize and confess that we are not the ones in charge, that we are not are those who have the big picture in mind, but that we do our Give up guilt and let it be forgiven and let Jesus rule over us Giving life, knowing that his plan is good, that his plan is not only for us, but also for our environment is the best thing that we humans can do and the world we live in can happen.
Go to God and lay your debts before him, he has already borne them Clean up, banish what keeps taking you away from God.
Focus on God and what He has in mind for you.
Take time to fill your life with goodness.
God is waiting for you… God is waiting for you with open arms.
I invite you to do this today, turn to God.
I pray and I invite you to pray with me and maybe God again, right to express your trust for the first time in your life.