Thinking Out Loud

January 15, 2016

Keeping One Foot in Sin City

Lately I’ve been trying to do more original writing at Christianity 201. While the post below is mostly scripture and commentary from others, I was struck by the similarity in these two passages of scripture and once you see that, the obvious application.

Saving Some Souvenirs from the Adventure

NLT Joshua 6:16b …Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! 17a Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord

18 “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel.

Joshua 7:1a But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things…

10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 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. 12 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.

The following is from the website Fighting The Giants:

There are some things that never fail to happen in God’s working. Just as surely as fire burns, so sin has its consequences. Sin affects not only the one who sins, but others as well. We will see that in our story today. It is a very sad story about a man who tried to hide his sin.

Have you ever had a real sore thumb—you banged it with a hammer and it got all inflamed and red. Didn’t you hurt all over? You couldn’t forget the pain so much that your whole body was affected. All who belong to the Lord Jesus are part of one big family, and when one of us sins, we hurt the whole family. We dishonor the Lord and we hurt other Christians as well.

But in our story today we learn about a man who did not believe God’s way was best, so he disobeyed God’s commands. The Bible says “He that covers his sins will not prosper.” (This means that the one who hides his sin shall not prosper.) When we sin, we need to confess our sin to God. (This means we should agree with God that we have not obeyed and that we have done wrong, because God’s way is always the right way.) We need to be convinced that God’s plan is always best. We can never have a plan that is as good as His plan, and when we disobey God’s command, that is sin…

…God had commanded them to destroy the entire city because it was so sinful. God had told Joshua, and Joshua had told the people just what they were to do. The Lord told Joshua that when the Israelites conquered Jericho they were to burn everything in the city that belonged to the people of Jericho except the silver, gold, brass, and iron. These they were to bring to the House of the Lord. Joshua had carefully instructed his soldiers, and every man knew that these were the orders. Achan was a soldier who disobeyed the orders and hid a beautiful garment, and some silver and gold in his tent. Achan felt sure no one else would find out about this.

The website continues to tell — in a way that children can understand — how the story unraveled and the destruction that this one man’s sin brought upon the nation, and all this in the wake of such a dramatic victory at Jericho.

Enjoying a Last Look Before Leaving

NLT Genesis 19:12 Meanwhile, the angels questioned Lot. “Do you have any other relatives here in the city?” they asked. “Get them out of this place—your sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone else. 13 For we are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it.”

…15 At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!”

16 When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful. 17 When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!”

…24 Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. 25 He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.

Some of the stories in the First Testament which many today have trouble accepting as factual (such as Jonah’s fish, or Lot’s wife) are the very ones affirmed by Jesus in the Second Testament. In one of the shortest verses in the Bible (just 3 words in many translations) we read:

Luke 17:32 Remember what happened to Lot’s wife!

From the website Walk by Faith:

Lot, being Abraham’s nephew and a Godly man who knew the Lord, saved his family from the coming destruction due to the intervention of Abraham. God had told Abraham if ten righteous men could be found in Sodom he would not destroy the city. God sent two angels to find out if ten righteous men could be found but they could find none. The angels had to physically take Lot, his wife and two daughters and lead them from the city the morning before destruction came to Sodom. They were told to go through the plains to the mountain and warned not to look back. Lot’s wife who had come to love the riches and things of the world lingered while her heart and desires continued to draw her attention back to Sodom. I don’t believe it was the act of looking back so much as the desire that was in her heart that betrayed her and she ended up paying the penalty for her desires.

Lot’s wife is a symbol of man today. We are aware of the right things to do and have been turned in the right direction of salvation but refuse to accept it because the desires of the heart are on worldly materialistic things not wanting to forsake them for the Godly things. Lot’s wife had a Godly husband, came from a Godly background and was privileged to be saved from the destruction of Sodom but chose in her heart to reject those things in favor of the wickedness life in Sodom had given her.

The Common Thread

Both of these accounts illustrate people wanting to hang on to a piece of something God would have us flee from. Maybe you can relate: An item of clothing or paraphernalia kept as a souvenir from an earlier phase of life; pictures of someone who was truthfully the other half of a destructive relationship; a bookmark in your computer that takes you to places online you should not be visiting.

After reminding us to consider Lot’s wife, Jesus says,

33 If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.

While the text doesn’t grant me this liberty, I’d like to suggest in context we read this today as, If you are holding on parts of a past life, you’re losing a part of life in the present; but if you let it go, you’re better off.

Are there things in a drawer in your room, in a box in the attic, in a storage bin in the garage that are part of a life you no longer live? Join the Apostle Paul in saying,

Phil 3:13b …I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead

This classic CCM song by Fireworks seemed an appropriate ending for today’s theme:

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