"Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’...When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them...” Joshua 7:15, 21
Having already run down every road in my little town and nearly every one in the surrounding areas too, I am always longing for new places to explore. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across an open gate on yesterday morning's run. This wasn't just any gate though. You see, this gate had always marked the turnaround point of one of my routes because of its' closed and padlocked entrance. But today was different-it was almost as if it was an open invitation to continue down the path that I knew was clearly off-limits. Reminding myself that trespassing was wrong, I turned around and was soon grateful for not succumbing to my desire. Besides, I thought, who knows where that path may have lead?
And when we talk about the consequences of following paths or desires that are 'off-limits', Joshua 7 tells us the story of Achan, an Israelite of the tribe of Judah, who had disobeyed God's commands and taken some of the "devoted things" for himself. When confronted, Achan's only answer was, "When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them." In other words, Achan took the forbidden path-he succumbed to his desire rather than running the other way.
While Achan was immediately stoned for his disobedience, you and I most likely won't be punished that quickly or severely for our transgressions. But you can be sure that there are always consequences for them. So if you're looking at an 'off limits' but open gate right now and are tempted to enter... stop. Turn around and run the other direction.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the examples of what can happen when we give in to sin. Help us to avoid wanting the things we don't have and to be satisfied with the things you have blessed us with instead. Help us to turn away from the invitation to enter into sin and to run quickly in the other direction. It's in your precious name we pray, Jesus. Amen.
Matt Maher - Turn around