Two things make Achan’s story especially sad. First, it occurred so suddenly on the heels of an incredible victory—the miraculous invasion of Jericho. And second, it resulted in a devastating toll on so many others. One man—a single, isolated individual—deliberately chose to disobey, yet numerous innocent victims fell in the wake of his sin, bringing calamity to a nation.
Though a twin, he was quite the opposite of his younger brother and ultimately became the heartache of the family. Ripped off by his brother and rejected by his family, he couldn’t win, no matter how hard he tried. As we shall soon discover, the Bible pulls no punches. And you may find several places in this story where you can identify with Esau, “the son who couldn’t win.”
Letting go is always difficult. And the closer we are to the thing (or person) being released, the more difficult it is to let go. We must hold everything loosely. Some of the most poignant examples of letting go come in the context of parent-child relationships. Upon receiving God’s command to offer his son as a sacrifice, Abraham let Isaac go and obeyed without resistance, illustrating his allegiance to God above all.
The story of Cain and Abel is tossed around rather generally in both Christian and non-Christian circles. Many folks are aware of the big picture aspect of the account—namely, that the older brother murdered the younger—but beyond that, little is known and even less is applied to everyday life. But woven within and between the lines of this amazing story are several insights that await our discovery.
Somewhere back in time, you and I were given a faulty set of instructions. Somewhere we learned that only the most famous or the star athlete or the most publicly gifted individual is worth our time and attention, our respect and our loudest applause. But in reality, if it wasn’t for the people who surround them, these well-known individuals would quickly fade in popularity and become among the most commonplace.
Who knows how many families today have grown apart due to silence and unresolved conflicts? Who can guess how many wrongs have been swept aside, causing unmentioned family secrets to linger? Reconciliation is essential if we wish to cultivate healthy and wholesome relationships. But…how?
While parents continue to love their children no matter what, they cannot escape those occasions when wills clash, rebellion reaches an impasse, and things get downright impossible. The result? Harsh words and ugly reactions as parents stand their ground and sons and daughters react in stubborn defiance, refusing to back down. This is one of those times when the fun stops for parents.
Revelation is notoriously considered the most difficult of all the Bible books…completely unique, full of symbols, and awesome in scope. Regrettably, Revelation has occasionally become the playground of religious eccentrics, fodder for prophecy “fanatics” who seem compelled to find in Revelation a detailed end-times timetable—right down to the very day of the Lord’s return.
Someone has correctly coined Jude’s letter with the title “The Acts of the Apostates.” The primary apostates in the first century were the Gnostics, who embraced the philosophy that humans could do anything they liked, as no one is under any moral obligation to his or her physical body. This mindset led to rebellion against authority, irreverence, presumptuous speech, and a lifestyle marked by unbridled license.
John singles out three men for observation and instruction. Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius, while actual personalities in the early church, represent three types in the church today. We’ll find much that is practical for our churches as we examine these 15 verses together.