Yesterday my Bible reading led me through the story of the children of Israel conquering Jericho, Achan's sin, and the conquering of Ai.
I had a couple of thoughts while reading, nothing new to most folks, even me, just some reminders :)
As I was reading the story of the children of Israel running into the newly opened Jericho "And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old,..." Joshua 6:21 I thought to myself, "Ewww! How awful to have been those warriors and have to put little innocent children to death." I also felt so bad for those poor babies. Killed, for no reason other than that they were part of a people who were the enemy of the children of Israel.
Then I reached the story of Achan: "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 all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones." Joshua 7: 24-25
And again I thought, those poor children. Killed, because of the sin of their father. The children of Achan weren't the ones who stole the garment, silver, and gold, but they had to suffer the same punishment as their father.
The thought came to me: The choices that we, as parents, make affect our children, too. (Told you it was nothing new).
The children of Jericho did not choose to be born into a heathen family; they did not choose to be the enemy of the people of God. They were given that distinction simply because of who their parents were and the choices that their parents made. Their parents could have chosen to be saved with Rahab that day, but they did not, so they were put to death. The children were affected by the choices that their parents made.
Achan's children also were not the ones who stole items from Jericho that were intended to be consecrated to the Lord, disobeying a direct order from the Lord via Joshua. But, they were put to death because of the poor choice that their father, Achan, made. They were affected by the choices that their parent made.
I am reminded of the story that my husband tells of the day that God spoke to him and told him to take his family (us) and go to Phoenix. It was because of our children, just Katelyn and Tyler at the time.
While I was still going to church and Jim would come occassionally, we were not living a godly lifestyle, a lifestyle of separation as we had been taught from birth. Instead, we were choosing to follow the path that many in our current church were going down, one of lowering the standards and becoming more liberal. We allowed a TV to come into our home, certainly not something that our parents had ever allowed, but something that was becoming more common in our church. In our prayer-less state, we fell to these temptations and for two years, we put our young children in front of a TV. God has forgiven us, but I still shudder to think about what affects that might have had on their young minds.
Jim telling of the story is that he might not have made the choice to heed the voice of God if not for our children. But he couldn't handle the fact that our children might have been lost if we had continued down the path that we were on. Because we believe that things would only have become worse in our lives if we had not made the changes.
Me, responsible for whether or not my children go to Heaven? Yes; if they are not raised in the truth, trained up in the way they should go, how will they know how to live a holy and godly life? Child learn by example and they will follow the example of their parents as they reach adulthood and begin to make their own choices.
Do you want that on your conscience? I surely don't. Which is why, when giving the choice, we choose to move to another city, a better church for us, to get our hearts right with God, and teach our children a holy and godly life like we were taught.
Pastor asks frequently, "Which one of your (four) children are you willing to be lost?" NONE! I choose none!
These thoughts were already swirling in my mind when we got to church last night. Our evangelist, Bro Morgan, preached about perspective. One of his main points was that if you are horn locked with your pastor, you need to change your perspective. If you are going home and bad mouthing the pastor, telling your kids that he is wrong for his stand, or doing things even though your pastor said not to, you need to pray through and move to the other side of the mountain (one of his examples). Your children will watch and learn their respect for their pastor and the ministry of God by what they see from you.
Ouch. That one caught me. Why? Because I was doing something, a small thing, really, that Pastor had asked us not to do, and the kids had seen me do it. I justified it and explained it away because really it was so innocent and I wasn't even "really" doing it, just observing. But Pastor had said "Don't go there!" and I was doing it anyway. I was giving my children a bad perspective, planting the seeds in their hearts to disobey their Pastor.
I repented immediately and as soon as possible I gathered my children and apologized to them and told them that it will never happen again.
I do not want my children to die spiritually because of bad choices that I have made.
The other thing that caught my attention as I was reading this story was in chapter 8, when Joshua tells the people that they can take of the spoils of Ai for themselves. I thought "Wow, if Achan had but waited, he would have gotten all of that stuff that he stole, maybe even more!" Instead, because he disobeyed, he and his family were put to death.
Achan only needed to obey the words of Joshua and he would have been alive and blessed!! He needed to trust that his leader had heard from the Lord and do what he was commanded, even when he didn't understand. Even when he didn't see the reason why, couldn't see beyond today.
Just like Achan, we need to listen to our Pastor, the man of God in our lives. When he says "Don't", we need to trust that he has heard from the Lord and knows things that maybe we don't. Sometimes the Pastor may give a command and we don't see and understand why. "It's just an innocent thing!" However, Pastor may see something down the road, a outcome that we don't know about yet, or something even better like the spoils from Ai, and if we just listen, we'll be even better off.
So, those are my thoughts from Jericho: I want to listen to my Pastor and obey the Lord, because my children are affected by the choices that I make.
I am so enjoying my journey through the Bible and love it when God opens my understanding about things (hopefully that will kick in for some of the tougher Scripture here real soon!)