ONE BAD DECISION: DEATH BY GREED

In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. But, if you’re like me, we make many of our decisions spontaneously with little or no thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but also for the many others whose lives are intertwined with  ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? Sometimes a single decision will change us for the better. And sometimes a single decision will change us for the worse.

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the singular decision that some people in the Bible made that changed their lives forever…for the worse. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word it’ll give us reason to stop and think about both the long-term and short-term ramifications of the decisions we make. Lots of forethought and prayer, I’m convinced, will save us from the pain and regret of a hastily-made decision for the worse.

DEATH BY GREED

The forty long years of desert travels have ended. The Israelites have entered the Promised Land. They’ve begun their war of conquest and possession of Canaan land. Jericho has fallen. Next up was the small city of Ai. It wasn’t anywhere near as big as Jericho, so Joshua sent a token force to take the city. To their utter shock and dismay, the small army of Ai routed the Israelites in battle! The Israelites couldn’t believe it! What in the world was going on? Joshua, the General of the Army, was so disheartened by the disaster that he went boo hooing into God’s presence for an explanation.

Turned out, somebody in the army messed up. The rule was, after all the city’s inhabitants were killed, the Israelites could confiscate the spoils of war for themselves. The only exception was the gold and silver, as well as vessels of brass and iron: all these belonged to the Lord and were to be deposited in the Tabernacle Treasury.

While the small Israelite force was busy going house-to-house in combat, one of their soldiers named Achan spotted the spoils of war that were just too enticing for him to pass up. He somehow managed to stop fighting long enough to carry away for himself a splendid Babylonian robe, along with 200 silver shekels and a wedge of gold. Weighted down, he resumed the war. That’s when the invasion started falling apart and the army of Ai started getting the upper hand. The Israelites sounded retreat and they marched back to camp forlornly and ashamed.

Achan hid the forbidden spoils of war in his tent. He knew full well that he had disobeyed the Lord’s orders. Achan coveted and took what rightfully belonged to the Lord. He’d stolen from God. And for this sin, the Israelite army and nation suffered a humiliating national defeat. You can read about it for yourself in Joshua 7.

Well, Achan hid his sin. But God brought it to light. YOU HIDE NOTHING FROM GOD. Achan was eventually discovered as the guilty culprit and the reason for the national defeat. He fessed up. But the confession would not diminish or lighten his sentence. He and his entire family—his wife and children—and everything he possessed, including his flocks and livestock, even his tents, clothes, furniture, and all; were brought to the Valley of Achor. And there the congregation of Israel stoned them to death, Joshua 7:24-26.

Of all the story pictures in the Bible, this one burns brightest and most vividly in my mind. I can picture the scene as Joshua passed judgment. How Achan must have begged and pled for mercy—if not for himself, then for his family. How his wife must have cried and looked frightfully in her husband’s eyes, and screamed, Achan, help me! Don’t let them hurt the children! I can hear the cries of the children as the reality of what was about to happen to them sank in. I can see them struggling and resisting as they were escorted to the Valley. I can see all the animals herded into the valley and all of Achan’s possessions thrown down around him. I can see Achan holding his wife and children close to his body, trying to shield them from the inevitable stones that were soon to fall upon them all. I can hear their cries of anguish and pain as the stones hit their bodies. I can hear the cries of the animals. I can see the blood flowing into the ground. What a terrible way to die! All because Achan was greedy!

If we reckoned the value of the stolen silver and gold by today’s standards, reckoning $32/ounce of silver and $1,665/ounce of gold; a shekel being ½ ounce; then 200 silver shekels and the wedge of gold that Achan stole for himself was worth almost $45,000 in today’s currency. Was it worth it, Achan? You lost your life—you got your wife and children killed—in the most painful and gruesome of ways. For what? $45,000. And you never even got a chance to spend it or enjoy it! Was it worth it? The treasure of wealth that you acquired was not worth the treasure of life and family that you lost. One quick, spontaneous decision made in the heat of battle cost Achan his life and that of his entire family. He died regretting his decision.

Friends, watch what decisions you make spontaneously without deliberation or forethought. WHEN YOU’RE BEING CARNAL, FLESHLY, DISOBEDIENT, OR SINFUL; THAT’S NOT THE TIME TO BE MAKING DECISIONS. Decisions made in this state produce heartache, regret, and sometimes, literally, death as in Achan’s case. James 1:14-15,  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  (15)  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Learn from Achan’s death. Stay out of the Valley of Achor. Get rid of covetousness and greed. You’ll live longer and you’ll be a lot happier without greed. Just ask Achan. From beyond the grave he’ll tell you…No amount of money is worth losing your life or your family. They’re your greatest treasure. Don’t let greed rob you of your treasure. Your life. Your soul.

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