This was a revised and paraphrased version of the sermon delivered in PAC-YM’s OUTLAST RETREAT at Silanguin Cove, Zambales. Ideas and outlines came from Pastor Cesar Magbatas.
One of the most devastated cities in the aftermath of the Second World War was our very own Manila. Buildings were razed. Churches, government offices, historical sites, and many other infrastructures were destroyed. Bridges were burned. People were killed.
While those were the facts, Manila today was able to thrive. We were able to rebuild and get back on our toes. It was as if nothing happened. That’s typical for us Filipinos. We’re quick on our toes in times of disasters.
In ancient times, when wars were fought, cities were totally destroyed. Not just wrecked but totally wiped out. Never to be rebuilt. That said, cities back then were built as fortresses. They built high stone walls to secure their city. One such city is Jericho.
The destruction of Jericho is not the end of the story. In fact it is our beginning. God told Joshua not to take any spoils. Everything should either be destroyed or used solely for God’s purpose. However, one man, by the name of Achan, got tempted by all the gold and silver and made a sorry choice. He took some spoils and made them His own. Nobody knew of it – only God.
The next battle was against a city that was way smaller than Jericho. The city of Ai was like a small town compared to the city of Jericho. It should have been a piece of cake for the Israelites, but to Joshua’s utter disbelief, the Israelite army fell to Ai.
One thing about prophets and leaders appointed by God, they instantly kneel down whenever these things happen. Joshua did just that and found out that God’s reply was that someone took some spoils from Jericho.
The people cast lots to find the culprit. It’s amazing how sometimes your hidden sins tend to cry out in the open. Sins tend to shout out no matter how we hide it, it always wants to be found. Joshua found out about Achan. He was the disease. He was the reason a mighty Israel army succumbed to a puny city.
Imagine that! One man’s decision affected the entire nation. In the same way your decision affected a lot of people. One small mistake could topple an entire nation. One small act of greed or selfishness could bring a whole country to collapse. It’s a chain reaction.
Real life does not come with instructions. Yet we are sometimes forced to decide on things on our own even if the instructions or outcomes are uncertain. Though we were given free rein to decide for ourselves, we are still accountable for our decisions. We have to think things through and how our decisions will affect others for the better. Not for their pleasure but for everyone’s benefit.
Achan set the wrong example. Would you like to follow?