The Sin of Covetousness

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Joshua 6:17-19 (NIV)
The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”

Joshua 6:17-19 (MSG)
The city and everything in it is under a holy curse and offered up to God. “Except for Rahab the harlot—she is to live, she and everyone in her house with her, because she hid the agents we sent. “As for you, watch yourselves in the city under holy curse. Be careful that you don’t covet anything in it and take something that’s cursed, endangering the camp of Israel with the curse and making trouble for everyone. All silver and gold, all vessels of bronze and iron are holy to God. Put them in God’s treasury.”
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“The city and everything that is in it shall be under the ban [that is, designated to be destroyed as a form of tribute] to the Lord; only Rahab the prostitute and all [the people] who are with her in her house shall [be allowed to] live, because she hid and protected the messengers (scouts) whom we sent. But as for you, keep yourselves [away] from the things under the ban [which are to be destroyed], so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban [for personal gain], and put the camp of Israel under the ban (doomed to destruction), and bring disaster upon it. All the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy (consecrated) to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” -AMPLIFIED

The city walls have fallen, just as God through Joshua had said they would. Typically when one nation conquers another the champion enjoys the plunder, but at this time Joshua tells the people that everything will belong to God. Joshua gives fair warning to all the people, “Be sure to stay away from these things that He has devoted to complete destruction so that you won’t be tempted to pick something up and carry it away. Anyone who disobeys God in this matter will bring destruction on all of us.” -(Voice)

Remember that children’s song, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see” Beware of covetousness; greed, envy, and lust. This strong desire to have something that does not belong to you will lead you down a pathway far away from God. God warned the people in the commandments that He gave Moses that covetousness was a sin that He would not tolerate. Covetousness is a sin that will lead you on to committing many other sins; such as lying, theft, and murder, just to name a few. Covetousness is in fact a form of idolatry; for it will drive you to do whatever you need to do in order to obtain the object of your desire. That would be allowing something to have priority in your life over God.

The people had been warned; yet we find one who could not control his desires, that man was Achan. Achan disobeyed the ban that God had placed on the people. He saw the spoils of the city and he coveted them; taking for himself a beautiful Babylonian robe, 5 pounds of silver, and 20 ounces of gold. He took these items and hid them; burying them in the ground in his tent.

Let us notice how the sin of one affected the whole. After Jericho had been conquered the people were stoked, God had done exactly as He said He would. They were elated and electrified ready to take on the world; so they set off toward Ai to take it on. The spies had informed Joshua that Ai was poorly defended so only 2,000-3,000 men would be needed to conquer it. Joshua sent 3,000 just to be safe. Sadly, Ai defeated them; even killing 36 men.

The people were confused. How could this have happened? “Then Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their robes and fell to the dirt in front of the covenant chest of the Eternal, putting dust on their heads and remaining there until evening.”

Tomorrow we will look at how the sin of Achan affected the people of Israel even more; as well as what had to be done to make restitution for Achan’s sin. Today what we need to take away from this passage is that we need to beware of being covetous of things that God has explicitly warned us to stay away from.

Let us take fair warning from a passage that James wrote:
“Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.” -James 4:1-3 (MSG)

My Prayer:

Father, God, help me to keep my priorities straight in my life; you first in every situation. Obedience is the only policy; not the best policy. I do not want anything ever to take your place in my life. Help me to keep my eyes firmly focused on you, so that they are not wandering after other things. Help me to remember that my sin not only affects me, but all of those around me. I need your help in making prudent, godly choices.  Please, Lord, I ask that you help me to choose wisely.

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