Many Old Testament texts seem barbaric to the modern mind. This being one of them. After Israel conquered Jericho, they were to devote everything from the city to destruction; all spoil, people, and animals. Everything was to be burned. But Achan secretly kept some of the riches for himself and Israel as a whole fell under God’s wrath. When Joshua pleads with the Lord, the sin is revealed as is Achan and he and his family are stoned and burned.
And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 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. (Joshua 7:24-25 ESV)
Why do his children suffer his same fate? That’s the puzzle to us. It seems terribly harsh and even barbaric. But we shouldn’t be surprised as we are. We understand and even expect to inherit the wealth of our parents, and consider it a terrible injustice when the government takes so much of it I taxes. We have a right to the fruit of our parents’ labor. The problem is we only think of this halfway. Why is it not right to inherit our parents’ debts if it is fair to inherit their wealth? The same question goes to Adam and the sinful nature and guilt we inherit from him. Paul describes this in Romans 5. It is the doctrine of original sin. And we had better believe it because it is this argument that leads Paul to explain how it is that Jesus can be the second Adam. Instead of looking to Adam as our father, we look to Jesus. instead of inheriting death, the fruit of Adam’s work; we inherit life, the fruit of Jesus’ work. Is that barbaric too? They go together.
McCheyne’s Bible Reading Plan: Jos 7, Ps 137-138, Jer 1, Mt 15
PS. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:8 ESV)