Secretly Buried Treasure

Bible Reading: Joshua 6; 7; 8

God instructed the Israelites not to take any plunder from Jericho; instead, they were to devote all the valuables to the Lord for his temple. Though he often allowed them to keep the plunder, God forbade it in this particular conquest. Achan, however, couldn't resist taking some of the treasures he found. Because of his disobedience, God brought defeat on the Israelites in their next battle. When Achan was singled out as the cause of their defeat, he confessed, "It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath" (7:21).

There have been times when God has made his instruction clear to me, but I have been unwilling to obey him. My action itself may not have been sinful, but I knew it was contrary to what God desired from me at the time. I chose to ignore his direction and then tried to hide or rationalize my thoughts and actions. I didn't like or agree with what God was asking; my way seemed much more desirable. Surely God didn't really mean what he said, or perhaps his directive could be modified to allow for my behavior. He loves me; doesn't he want me to be happy? This other choice was easier, more pleasurable, more fulfilling. Yet, the choice I made created a barrier between my God and me. I knew my sinful treasure was displeasing to God but, like Achan, I would secretly think about, desire, admire and touch it. My disobedience would be my little secret. No one needed to know. No one would get hurt. Besides, I deserved a little comfort and pleasure. I had fought hard and achieved a victory. Why not indulge myself a little now? Why should I be denied a reward of my own choosing?

The treasure that Achan was hiding was one of the "devoted things of God." The treasure that I was hoarding also belonged to God. He paid for it with his life. Yet I held it tightly in my grasp, leaning over it protectively, with my back turned to God so he wouldn't see it and couldn't take it from me. He wanted me to turn around, loosen my stubborn grip, extend my arms toward him, and offer to him what was already his. He was waiting for me to lay it at his feet and leave it there. Instead, I dug a hole and buried it deep in my heart, where no one could find it.

Even there, however, I could not escape the eyes of God. While I may be able to hide my thoughts and actions from people, they are never hidden from God. Achan successfully hid his actions from everyone else, but God knew he had disobeyed him. His sin caused God to withdraw his blessings, not just from Achan, but from his entire community. I know that my choices affect the lives of others. I can accept God's anger and punishment for my own wrongdoing, but am I willing to let the people I love suffer because of my rebellion? I realize, too, that when I covet the path of disobedience and try to cover my wayward steps, I am not able to enjoy the "treasure" I obtained. I have to bury it, hide it, be ashamed of it, and avoid talking about it. When I realize its impact on my relationship with God and in the lives of my family and others, it loses its appeal. Why didn't I just trust God in the first place? Why did I think that I had a greater ability than God to choose what was best for me? When will I learn to lay my fears and desires at his feet and trust him enough to obey?