Joshua 7.11-25 – God’s “unfairness” and our salvation
Posted: 9 May 2011 in Joshua

Immediately preceeding this passage is the Israelite’s defeat at Ai. They had been forbidden to help themselves to the spoil from the Battle of Jericho, but one of their number had nevertheless done so.

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…..

So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites….. and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done….. So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua….. And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah….. 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.

This passage could be plucked more or less at random from a great many others which tell a similar story. The thing they have in common is that God holds, not just the individual who has transgressed responsible for his actions, but the group of which he is head. In Numbers it is the families of Korah, Izhar, Dathan and Abiram who suffer a similar fate and most famously, of course, in Genesis 3, the entire human race is held to be accountable for the actions of just two individuals. To our way of thinking this is bound to seem very unfair, but it is, perhaps, just one more illustration of the fact that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways. Nevertheless, God is the Lord, and we must bow before him.

However, this “unfairness” has a flip side, which apparently is just as unfair, but which works to our advantage. As Paul points out, if the misdeeds of a group’s representative can bring condemnation upon the whole group, then those who are called into the Body of Christ can be made righteous by virtue of Christ’s righteousness, who is their head and representative.

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