We can trust he will make all things right in the end.
25 And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.
This part of the story is somewhat haunting. God pronounced severe judgment on Achan’s sin carried out through human hands. Then, when justice was complete, it says God turned from his anger. Perhaps you wonder why God chose to deal with Achan’s sin ever so severely. The before and after effect of God’s attitude makes him appear to be a somewhat ruthless and overly strict about disobedience. You may want to ask, “Where’s the grace? Where’s the love?”
There’s no easy answer in this case. But, Ryan Paulson reminded us that all sin warrants punishment by a just and holy God. God doesn’t wink his eye at sin or turn his head. Sin is serious. In fact, God tells us “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). More often, we’re tempted to believe sin is really not that big a deal. We’re tempted to believe sin only affects ourselves, it’s possible to hide our sin from God and others, and what happens in Jericho stays in Jericho. But, our sin has a way of finding us out. God will reveal it and in one way or another it will be punished.
Sometimes God allows us to live with the natural consequences for our sin and that’s punishment enough. Sometimes he allows us to see judgment fall on others – like Achan – to demonstrate the severity of sin and our need for divine intervention. Sometimes he lets us wait in anticipation of our own pending judgement. Whatever it may be, God is supremely just and perfectly holy. He knows how and when he will dispense his righteous judgment. Remember when Habakkuk cried out about the injustice in the world (Habakkuk 1), God said he would even use the ungodly to inflict judgment on his people. There’s no telling how God will issue judgment. But, when he does, we can trust he will make all things right in the end.
Now, when we stumble – succumbing to lies, temptation and sin – it’s a grace for God not to turn a blind eye. Experiencing consequences for wrongdoing can be good for us and for the community. Tough love can be very beneficial for a child and deep down we all long for perfect justice in our world. The good news is that by God’s grace and love, he sent in his beloved Son to pay the penalty for our sin. God allowed the incredibly severe punishment for our sin to be carried out by human hands. Instead of us being punished with eternal death, Jesus was brutally nailed to a cross so that God would turn from his burning anger toward us. Today, we have incredible cause to celebrate. Praise God for choosing to send Jesus and paving the way to justly right our wrongs.
By Yvonne Biel