One of my favorite portions of scripture is at the end of Matthew 7. I use it almost every time I do premarital counseling.
Matthew 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Howard Hendricks, noted author and former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, once said – “The home is the number one influence in the life of your child. They average church has a child 1% of his time, the home has him 83% of his time and the school for the remaining 16%.” Many parents blame what goes on in the school system or what doesn’t go on in the church as the reason for how their child turns out, yet 83% of a child’s life happens in the home.
Now we could respond to that like the man who heard that 3/4’s of all accidents happen within ten miles of home, so he moved! But that probably won’t do any good. The home is the place where a child is prepared to live life. A study was conducted several years ago in regards to people who self-confident and successful and three common characteristics were found in each of these individuals. They were loved and valued at home; they had the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings at home; and their parents set the proper boundaries. (Homemade, July, 1990)
In Matthew 7, Jesus describes two homes that in many ways were very similar, yet at the same time – very different. Often I ask the young couples to explain some of the similarities. Responses normally go along the line of how both men built a home and both men experienced a storm. Then I ask them to explain to me some of the differences. Couples always recognize that one house weathered the storm while the other home didn’t. Then I ask them why. They always respond that it had to do with the foundation upon which each home was built and many times they make reference to the fact that one house was built upon the sand, while the other house was built upon a rock. Then I ask them, “What determined whether or not the house was built upon the sand or upon the rock?” Very often they look back down at their Bibles to study the passage once again and there is a few moments of silence. Then I point out to them something very important Jesus said.
vs. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock
vs. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand
The key to understanding the truth Jesus was teaching is found in two phrases – “and doeth them”, “and doeth them not.”
It’s not what we hear or what we know that determines whether or not our house is built upon the solid rock. It’s what we do with what we know. Someone who knows but doesn’t do is no better off than someone who doesn’t know at all. Perhaps they are worse.
With that introduction we return this morning to our study of the book of Joshua and I have entitled my sermon – ‘The Tale of Two Families.’
I. The Home of a Foolish Man
A. The Fall of Jericho –
1. A Conquered City
Last week we saw how the city of Jericho was conquered. In many ways, it was an impregnable fortress. It was built high upon a mound of dirt with two protective walls surrounding it. Jericho had been there for thousands of years and had withstood numerous invasions. It had a fresh supply of water running into it and a storehouse full of grain. Yet when archeologists began to uncover the ruins of Jericho, they discovered that most of the jars of grain were still completely full. The citizens of Jericho were prepared for months of invasion, yet they didn’t know that God would destroy them in only one week.
We saw how Joshua and his army were instructed to defeat them. They were to march around the city once a day for six days and while doing so, no one was allowed to say a word. Then on the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times and when they heard a long blast on a ram’s horn, they were to shout at the top of their lungs.
Joshua 6:20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
2. A Consecrated City
Joshua 6:21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and donkey, with the edge of the sword.
No one, except Rahab and her family in her house, were to be spared. Everyone else was to be destroyed and all of the treasures of Jericho were to be brought into the LORD’S treasury. God made it very clear that no one of Israel was to take anything from the city for himself.
Joshua 6:17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD:… 18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.
According to Deuteronomy 13, Jericho was a cursed city because it had been a city of pagan idolatry.
Joshua 6:24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
The mighty city Jericho fell that day without a single Jewish casualty; that is physically. Unknown to everyone but God, there was a family in Israel’s camp that also fell that day and like the city of Jericho, it laid forever in ruin.
B. The Fall of Achan
1. Sin in the Camp
Joshua 7:1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.
A terrible thing happened behind the scenes that day. One of Joshua’s soldiers, by the name of Achan, committed a terrible sin. Although God had commanded the Israelites to not take a single thing from Jericho for themselves, Achan secretly took some things for himself, thinking that no one would ever notice.
With Jericho under their belt, the people were ready to move forward and conquer the rest of the land.
Joshua 7:2 And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. 4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.
The impossible happened. Thirty-six men of Joshua’s army were killed in the skirmish against Ai. How could this be? How could they conquer a mighty city like Jericho without receiving a scratch, and then thirty-six men die in a battle at a village called Ai?
6 And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. 7 And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! 8 O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?
Joshua did what most of us do whenever something bad happens – he blamed God! ‘How could You let this happen God? Why weren’t You there to protect us? Don’t you realize than when others hear about how you let us down, they’re going to speak evil against you? Boy, You’ve really messed up this time.’
How did God respond?
10 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 11 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. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.
‘Get up off the ground and act like a man and I’ll tell you what’s wrong. There’s sin in the camp!’ Joshua didn’t know what we learned back in vs. 1. He didn’t know that one of his men had willfully disobeyed God and thus brought disaster to the army of Israel. The Bible says in Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
2. Achan and His Sin
Achan was a part of the Jewish army. He was of the tribe of Judah from which eventually came King David and the Lord Jesus Christ. Achan had been there when God parted the Jordan River. He had been a part of the group who marched around the city for seven days. He had heard the instructions concerning taking things from Jericho which God had called accursed. Achan was a man who knew all the answers, yet Achan was a man who believed that he could rewrite the rules. He believed that he could compromise in his commitment to God and no one would never notice.
b. His terrible sin
Joshua 7:20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: 21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.
Not a lot of sin – comparatively speaking. Just a Babylonian garment, a few silver coins and a piece of gold. Something so insignificant that no one would ever notice; no one that is except God. God knew exactly what Achan had stolen and God knew exactly where Achan had hidden it.
c. The consequences of Achan’s sin
Joshua 7:24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his donkeys, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.
Achan lost everything. He lost his family and all of his possessions. He even lost his life. I’m not saying that God will strike everyone dead who tries to play games with Him. If He did there would always be plenty of empty seats in church. But I do believe that we pay a big price for playing games with God. There are a lot of marriages that have paid a big price for their compromise on biblical principles and values. There are a lot of parents who have paid a big price. There are a lot of churches who have paid a big price. And even our country today is paying a big price.
C. Is God cruel?
A lot of people read a story like this and wonder – “Is God cruel?” How could God allow something like this? There are a couple of important things that we need to understand at this point. Number one, God cannot be mocked. We read in Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. The second thing is this – God is gracious. It says in Joel 2:25 “I will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.” None of us can go back and undo what was done in the past. But we can always start over today. Down through the years I have told many people, ‘When you have sown bad seeds, you can expect to reap a certain amount of a bad harvest. But if you will start sowing good seeds, eventually you will begin to reap a good harvest. God is gracious and one of the greatest examples of that is seen in another family that was involved in the battle that day.
II. The Wise Home of Rahab
The story of Achan would really be a downer if not for the story of Rahab. While Achan’s family was being destroyed that day, Rahab’s family was being saved.
Joshua 6:20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and donkey, with the edge of the sword.
22 But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. 23 And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. 25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive , and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
We’ve studied the life of Rahab already. She was a sinful woman with a lot of baggage. She could have easily been one of the many citizens of Jericho that was destroyed that day, but she wasn’t. Her life was spared and the Bible tells us that she became a great woman. By faith she turned from the world and her sinful past, and to God. She gave her heart and her life to God and He received her and blessed her. She became the wise woman Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7. She heard the Word of God and she lived by the Word of God and her house stood when all the others around her were crumbling.
God restored to Rahab the years the moths and locusts had eaten. We read in the gospel of Matthew –
Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ … 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king …
She became the wife of Salmon, a man who many believe was one of the two spies. She became the mother of Boaz and the mother in law of Ruth. She became the great-grandmother of King David and a part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 11 tells us that she became a part of the Heroes of Faith. What more could someone ask for?
I need to ask you a very serious question today, what kind of home are you building? One that will weather the storm or one that will crash? I fear that there are many families in the church who think that as long as their child makes a profession of faith when their young and that family attends church ‘fairly regularly’, that’s all is needed. Kids need more than that today. They need a home that is rock-solid for Jesus.