By Joyce Mwangi
“ . . . But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy . . .” Excerpt From Prayer of
Humble Access, Book of Common Prayer
Case Study one – Achan
Told you that we would take a closer look at Achan in my earlier post ‘Inquire of the Lord’, this is me
keeping my promise. We are introduced to Achan in Joshua 7:1, “But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.”
Note the statement:
But the people . . . broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi . . . took some of the devoted things.
One man, Achan disobeyed the explicit command to destroy Jericho and everything and everyone in it COMPLETELY!
However, in the eyes of the Lord that sin was accounted to the entire Nation of Israel. And the consequences of that sin being accounted to the entire Nation of Israel is recorded in Joshua 7:2-5, the embarrassing defeat of Israel at Ai which resulted in the death of thirty six of them. Joshua is mortified, he falls before the Lord who commands him to arise and purge sin from the camp. God gives clear instruction on how this was going to be done. first the identification of the culprit and second the punishment on the culprit in Joshua 7:14-15,
“In the morning therefore you shall be brought near by your tribes. And the tribe that the Lord takes by lot shall come near by clans. And the clan that the Lord takes shall come near by households. And the household that the Lord takes shall come near man by man. 15 And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel.”
Of importance to note is that this announcement is made the night before the actual exercise. By this time you would think that Achan having witnessed the humiliating defeat of Israel at Ai and having heard the instructions God gave Joshua would have volunteered himself with remorse, covered in sack clothes and ashes as the culprit. But not Achan, he kept silent.
As sure as the sun rises, morning of the next day did come and the exercise of finding the culprit began. And in the end Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of the tribe of Judah was taken.
Now, we are sure he will fall prostrate. He will confess. He will ask for mercy. He will plead for his life. Not Achan. Instead we are told in Joshua 7:20-21,
“And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
The more I think of this account, the more I wonder if this is what is called a “seared conscience”? A conscience that acknowledges the wrong it has done but sees nothing wrong with that wrong action to lead them to repentance or to ask for mercy. The way Achan responded to Joshua, you would think he was giving a favourable account and not a confession of sin. Sin that had so far led to the death of thirty-six men and brought shame to an entire Nation.
In the end Achan is destroyed together with ‘everything he had’ including his sons and daughters (Joshua 7:24-26). I wonder what would have happened if Achan had asked for mercy.
Case Study 2 – David
Contrast Achan with David. Yes David, of the Bathsheba adultery account and killing of Uriah. ThatDavid. (2 Samuel 11-12). When the man is confronted by prophet Nathan we are told in Psalm 51:1-2 immediately pleads for mercy. He pleads for forgiveness. The entire Psalm 51 is his confession of sin, request for mercy and forgiveness.
1Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
Take your pick
When you sin, whose steps will you follow?
Achan or David?
Will you ask for mercy to the God whose property, whose very essence is to have mercy or will you choose not to ask for mercy and be destroyed?
I hope and pray that you chose to humble yourself and ask for mercy.
Does this mean there will not be consequences of your sin? Nope, just study David. However, it does mean that God gives you a chance to change your ways and most importantly to walk right with Him going forward.