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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Here Comes Trouble

Skip Heitzig - Here Comes Trouble

Skip Heitzig - Here Comes Trouble
Skip Heitzig - Here Comes Trouble
TOPICS: Crash and Burn

Now turn in your Bible to Joshua 7 as he begins. Would you please turn your Bible to the book of Joshua 7? As well as did you bring a Bible? You brought it. All right. You're holding it up? It's a beautiful sight. Joshua 7 and James 1. I'm going to make a reference to that. It's just a whole lot easier if you can see it in front of you. Joshua 7 and then James 1.

The Heitzig boys were trouble, especially the third one. That's my brother Bob. Bob was 6 foot 8" and he liked it. And he wanted others to appreciate it. He could walk into a room and be very intimidating. So though all of us could bring a little bit of craziness to a situation, when Bob was coming, it's like here comes trouble. And he's sort of like that mystique. There was a new bartender that moved into an old frontier town, a Western town. And his predecessor said I've got one piece of advice for you. If Big John ever comes to town, get out quick. Well years went by and one day a cowpoke put his head in the saloon said Big John's a comin'

Everybody ran far and fast except the bartender. He couldn't get out in time. And just then, through the saloon doors, in walked this huge biggest, ugliest, meanest looking guy, black hat, snarl, riding a buffalo. One hand was a rattlesnake, other hand was a bull whip. With one fist, he could break a table, broke it in half. Ordered up a root beer. I alter the story depending on the audience, you know. And he took the root beer, bit off the cap with his teeth, drank it. Bartender said, can I get you another one, sir? And the big old dude said there's no time Big John's coming. So it's one thing to be big and mean and ugly like that guy, but there's somebody worse than him.

My brother Bob was Big John, or he wanted to be seen that way. Six foot eight inches on a Harley with a gang, just loved that mystique. Now I knew him. And I knew that deep inside that wasn't really him. He was really tender hearted but he liked to give off the rough, tough exterior. The person in our story is exactly the opposite. His name is Achan. Achan wants to appear like he's no trouble at all, but he is. In fact, his name means trouble. That's what Achan means, trouble or troubler. And he comes in like he's a soldier. He's yes sir, he's mild mannered, he marches with the rest. But he's trouble. Here comes trouble. And he brings trouble to the entire nation.

We're in Joshua 7. That's where his story is. But I just want to give you a little bit of catch up before we get into it. In chapter 7 of the book of Joshua, there's a change from the first six chapters. If you were to read the first six chapters and then begin the seventh, it's like you're reading two different books. The first six chapters, everything is great. God gives promises to Joshua, the new commanding officer, the new general of Israel. They cross over the Jordan River into the promised land. There is a miraculous takeover of the first city, Jericho.

All of that's good. Until you get to chapter 7. And you can see it for yourself. Look at the very last verse of chapter 6 verse 27. "So the Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread throughout all the country." First word of the next chapter. "But" that's not a good change. That signals that things are going to be different from here on out. And they will be. This is the first defeat that they will experience. Now the overcomers are overcome. Now the victors become the vanquished ones. Here comes trouble.

What's interesting is that what brings the trouble is small. It seems insignificant. Most of us would say oh, come on. What's the big deal? It's so small. It's a soldier who wants the spoils of war which soldiers have wanted for, well, since there have been soldiers. It happens in a battle. It seems small. But it brings something big.

Some years ago, I was speaking in North Carolina at the Cove, it's called the Billy Graham Training Center. I think we had about 400 people in our seminar that week. And I had just discovered, or somebody introduced me to, this bakery shop that was not a national chain yet. It was just a local bakery shop only in North Carolina. That's where it started. It's called Krispy Kreme donuts. And when I had one of those, I just thought God gave this as a gift to mankind. This is like manna from heaven. Those hot now donuts, come on.

So I had one I thought oh my stars we've got to get a donut like this into the hands of every participant in this seminar. So the Cove volunteered to do that. We ordered 400 donuts to be brought in for our seminar participants. When one of the guys went there to pick up the 400 donuts, he waited and he waited and he waited until he finally said now what's taking so long? Why is this such a long process to wait for? And the guy at Krispy Kreme behind the counter said well to bake up 400 dozen donuts is taking us a lot of time. He said 400 what? He said 400 dozen. He said no I ordered 400.

See, it's just one small word. There's only five letters so the word dozen. But it changes everything, right? 400 donuts is a whole lot different than 4,800 donuts. I think we got the guy to stop at 90 dozen donuts. So we carried 90 dozen donuts back to the Cove. They dropped them off at homeless shelters. And just kids just along the way. And still had plenty left over. I think we sugared up every homeless person in that town that night.

People who say that small things don't matter have never slept in a room with a mosquito. Just one little thing can change everything. As we look at this seventh chapter, what I want to do is frame for you the man Achan. And I'm going to provide four sides to this frame by giving you four statements, for little maxims, four axiomatic truths, self-evident truths.

Here's the first one. Every disobedience is detrimental. Mark that. Every disobedience is detrimental. Verse 1 "But the children of Israel", here it comes, "but the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things. For Achan", remember his name means trouble, "Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah took of the accursed things", better translation, the devoted things. Things that should have been devoted or set apart for the Lord.

"And so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel. Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai", that's how you pronounce that little town, Ai, "which is beside Beth-aven on the east side of Beth-el and spoke to them saying go up and spy out the country. So the men went up and spied out Ai." They eyed Ai. "And they return to Joshua and said to him, do not let the people go up. But let about 2,000 or 3,000 men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there for the people of Ai are few. So about 3,000 men went up from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai struck down about 36 men for they chased them from before the gate as far as Sheba rim and struck them down on the descent. Therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water."

Here's the deal. Jericho was the first town they took over. The spoils of war to Jericho were to be devoted or dedicated to the treasury of the Lord's stuff. The people were not to touch it. The soldiers were to leave it alone. The commanding officer, Joshua, gave that order in chapter 6, don't touch it. Don't keep it. Leave it alone. Doesn't belong to you, it belongs to God. If you touch it, you'll be cursed.

Well Achan didn't seem to care. He saw something that caught his eye. And he thought why let it go to waste? It won't be missed. And he took it for himself. Because he did that, 36 men lost their lives. Because he did that, 36 families are experiencing grief. Because he did that, 36 wives became widows. Because he did that, 36 sets of children lost a dad. And because he did that, the whole group of Israel is held accountable. It's interesting. You go down to verse 11, God speaks to Joshua and he says "Israel has sinned." Yep Achan stole, but Israel has sinned. The nation is liable. And it's going to cost Achan his own life, literally. Achan will become bacon by the end of the chapter. It will cost him and the lives of his family.

Here's the point to be made. Every believer's actions matter, for better or for worse. And they affect the whole group. As Warren Wiersbe put it, never underestimate the damage one person outside the will of God can do. Ask Adam. Just one little piece of fruit, no big deal. Thank you very much, Adam. Just ask Abraham. Just one little lie, one act of disobedience in Egypt almost cost the life of his wife. Just ask King David, just one decision to number the people of Israel cost 70,000 lives. Ask Jonah, one ticket aboard one boat brought a storm, a whale, and almost sunk the ship. Asked the church at Corinth who because they tolerated the sexual immorality of just one of their members brought judgment upon that church, 1 Corinthians 5:1. Ask the families of 10,000 people who last year lost their lives in alcohol related traffic accidents. Just one choice. One act.

Now we're connected to each other. We are. You might not feel that way or you might not act that way. But the Bible says as the body of Christ, we're a part of one another. We need each other. I know we needle each other from time to time, but we need each other. And what we do effects everyone else. It's called the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 "As the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body being many are one body. So also is Christ." Now listen to this. "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. If one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."

Beware of the person who says what I do is what I do. It's none of your business, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody else. That's just the thing. It always does hurt somebody else. It's selfish and ignorant and arrogant to think that you can just do it and it doesn't hurt anybody else. It always does. Always affects other people. Ecclesiastes 9 says "one sinner destroys much good." Or to put it in our little axiom, every disobedience is detrimental. That's one side of the frame. That's part of the picture frame of Achan.

Let's go now to another side. Not only does every disobedience become detrimental, but every sin has stages to it. It comes in stages. Now I want to go down to verse 19, I want to skip ahead. So follow your eyes down to verse 19. After Joshua prays to God about this, God tells him to find the person responsible. "Joshua said to Achan, my son, I beg you. Give glory to the Lord God of Israel. Make confession to Him. Tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.

And Achan answered Joshua and said indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel and this is what I've done. When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, 200 shekels of silver, a wedge of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are hidden in the Earth in the midst of my tent with the silver under it."

Did you notice the stages? Do you notice what he says he did. Look at the verbs. He said I saw, I coveted. I took. In other words, it didn't happen all of a sudden. It happened with a series of stages. I saw something. I wanted something. I took something. So far, we've been seeing that in just about every one of these Crash and Burn studies. Eve saw the fruit. It was pleasant to the eyes, good for food, makes one wise. So she took it. Ate it. Gave it.

Lot didn't just wake up one day in Sodom. He first looked toward it. It looked good. He moved his tent in that direction. Then he moved to town. Then he led in that town. Then he lingered in that town. So there's always stages to this. And here's the irony. If Achan would have just waited one more chapter, if he would have just obeyed God and said, OK. I'm not going to touch anything from Jericho, I'm going to just do it. The man says I'm going to obey this.

We get to chapter 8 verse 2, and Joshua tells his soldiers now the town of Ai is all yours. You can have anything you want in it. Jericho belonged to God, but this whole town is yours. All the spoils of war are yours to keep. He would have gotten even more than he got out of greed. Jim Elliot, the missionary, said God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. Isn't that great? God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. But he saw. He coveted. He took. Those are the stages.

Now I ask you at the beginning, did I not, to turn to or to mark James 1. So turn there for a moment. I want you to look at two verses. James 1 gives to us, we could call it the anatomy of temptation. It's like he's a scientist and he dissects temptation to show you the different stages. And it's like he has been reading Joshua 7.

James 1: 14 and 15. I'm going to begin in verse 13. "Let no one say when he is tempted I am tempted by God. For God cannot be tempted by evil. Nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death."

Notice the stages. First stage, desire. Desire. James says each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires. We all have desires. There's nothing wrong with having a desire. They're normal. You couldn't function without desire. You have a thirst drive. You have a hunger drive. We have a sex drive. God put that in the human race. There's nothing wrong with desires.

What's wrong is when you seek to satisfy those desires outside the will of God. That's the problem. So, for example, eating is normal. Gluttony is sin. Sleep is normal. Laziness is sin. Sex is normal. Adultery is sin. Wanting an education is normal. Cheating on the test. that's sin. You get the point. It begins with desire. The next step is deception. After desire becomes deception. You'll notice in verse 14, James tells us "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires." See the word drawn away? It's a hunter's term. It means to lead an animal or lure an animal from a place of safety into a trap.

I have a friend who is helping me solve a problem. I think I have some kind of critters at my house. He thinks they're squirrels. So he says I got the solution. I'm going to trap these squirrels. And then I'm going to let them out somewhere far away. So he has these traps. The door's open. And he put a little container with just a little bit of peanut butter in it. I love peanut butter. I'm tempted by it. I won't let my dog out because he'll get trapped. So that little door is open. And that little cup of peanut butter is sitting there to lure an animal from a place of safety into a trap. That's the idea of drawn away. Come here little squirrel.

Also look at the word in that verse, enticed. Do you see it? Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Now this word comes from the word that means to bait a hook. To take a hook and put bait on it. So you throw a hook into the water. You don't want to leave it like the hook because the fish is going to go forget you. But you put bait on the hook and he's going to think there's breakfast. Not knowing he is the breakfast.

That's the point of bathing the hook. You're hiding that lure from them. You're bringing them out from a place of safety. You're baiting a hook. Achan had a desire for more. OK. Nothing wrong with having a desire, Achan. And then he sees something alluring clothes and cash. Babylonian garment, it's the style now. It fits just perfect. Why let it go to waste? Looks good on me. It's a lure. So desire, and after that deception.

There's a next step decision. That's verse 15 James 1. Then notice this "When desire has conceived", see that word conceived? "It gives birth to sin." Now that's the terminology of having a baby. But it could be translated when it has spawned. When it has spawned. Have you noticed that all of these terms in these two verses are animal terms? And I think that's for a very important reason. I think what James is saying is when you live on the level of just getting your needs met, your desires are met, you are living no higher than the level of an animal. That's what animals do. They live according to their senses. They just want their needs met any way possible. Any creature can do that. That's animal living.

So when you have desire followed by deception, you're faced with a decision. Do you take it? Or do you leave it? There's a great book that I've had for years in my library. It's still published. It's called The Fight by John White. It's about the Christian life. But he gives one of the best illustrations of temptation I've ever heard. He said temptation is sort of like a piano. If we were to have a grand piano out here like we have in the back, if you open the lid of a piano and you press the right pedal, the sustain pedal, you can sing a note into the piano and you know what happens? You'll hear your voice come back to you. Your voice will excite a string or two or three in that key and reflect it back to you.

Now that's not how pianos are meant to work. A piano is meant to respond to the strike of a felt hammer once you activate the keys. You push the keys down, mechanism makes that little felt hammer strike the string. But if you didn't use that and you just push the pedal and sang into it, it excites the strings and they sing back. Now if you want to stop that process, there's an easy way to fix it. Close the lid. Just close the lid. Says Dr. White in that book, he says that's how temptation works. Satan comes along and he calls to you. He sings to you. And that sounds very exciting. In fact, the piano, if it could speak, says White, would be turned on by the human voice.

So you got you close the lid. Satan calls, gives you something that's alluring and you go ooh. I hear that voice. Close the lid. Walk away from the magazine rack. Get off the computer. Leave the shoe section of the store, whatever it might be. Close the lid. Because the desire that leads to deception that brings you to a decision, something happens. There's a four step and that's death. James says "Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth." To what? To sin. Sin is born. "And sin when it is full grown brings forth the death."

It might not happen for a while. You might live a long time before it ever comes. But it's so cute at first. It's a baby. Look at my baby sin. That's kind of cute. A lion is cute as a baby. When it grows up, it will eat you. It's going to act according to its nature. And it can destroy you. Death is always the result of sin. Always. Some kind of separation occurs. In a relationship of trust, or a relationship with God. And in Achan's case, literal, physical death. It wasn't satisfaction. It wasn't pleasure. It wasn't I'm so satisfied, it's the wages of sin is death.

So every disobedience is detrimental. Every sin comes in stages. That frames two sides of it. Let's go to the third side. Every prayer is not pure. Every prayer is not pure. Now Joshua prays here. So go back to chapter 6, I mean to go back to verse 6 of chapter 7, excuse me. Verse 6 "As soon as that defeat came, Joshua tore his clothes, fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads." I mean they are broken hearted over this.

"And Joshua said", here is his prayer, "Alas, Lord God. Why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all? To deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. Oh, that we had been content and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan. Oh, Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turns its back before its enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it and surround us and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?"

I appreciate that Joshua prayed. In fact, what marks his success as a leader is that he regularly prays through the book. And I think his prayers were good and effective I know it was said that Mary Queen of Scots said she feared the prayers of John Knox more than all the armies of her enemies. And so I tend to think that Joshua's prayers were pretty instrumental in bringing the children of Israel into this new land. But having said that, I want to say something else. I wish Joshua would have prayed earlier not later. Before the defeat, not after. I wish he would have prayed before this battle like he prayed before the Battle of Jericho. They did pray, chapter 5, they prayed before the Battle of Jericho. They didn't pray here. No record of that.

They assumed, this is a small town. It's podunk. It's easy. Don't need to pray about this. I got this. What Joshua should have done is said come here guys, let's get before God. God, thank You for that miraculous work at Jericho. This looks like a small town, but we don't want to presume anything. We still need You, that's what he should have done. No record of that. If he would have done that, he would have saved the lives of 36 men and the grief of 36 families. Because God would have said to him, you know what? Don't go into that city, because there's sin in the camp. You've got to deal with that. You've got to deal with that. God will tell him, that but that's 36 dead men later.

Years ago, I'm going way back now. Some of you, just a few of you may remember it if there's any left from this era. But we were in a building on Eubank. Our church was 1660 Eubank. We needed a bigger place so we moved to a place down the street 9610 Snow Heights. We built it out. We got all excited. We announced next week we're going to meet there. Come Sunday morning for our service. In between that Sunday and the next Sunday, the Fire Marshal showed up at our new building and said you're not opening for anybody. You're not up to code. This wall isn't rated for a fire wall. Now, we thought it was. We thought we knew what we were doing. We had a bunch of pastors building walls. So that shows you the mistake off the bat.

And I remember getting so angry with the Lord after that and pleading with the Lord because of that. But if I would have had that prayer meeting earlier, and consulted builders along the way, I'd have saved myself a lot of grief. Like Joshua, had he done it earlier. If you pray in times of victory, you won't have to plead in times of defeat. But Joshua does.

Now as you read this prayer, did you catch the tone of this prayer? Joshua was blaming God. Did you catch that? Why have You brought us here? Lord this is Your fault. We could have just stayed on the other side of the Jordan. But You brought us here. In fact, you know what this reminds me of interestingly? Years before when Moses sent 12 spies out into the land, scouts, to look it over. 10 came back with a bad report. 2, including Joshua, Joshua and Caleb came back with a good report, men of faith.

The children of Israel cried out and said God, why did You bring us here? We should have died in Egypt. If I were Moses, I would have said, yep. It'd have been a lot easier. Joshua seems to adopt that kind of prayer. That fatalistic it's your fault God, why did You bring us here into this land? So that's the prayer meeting. It's not over yet. Look at verse 10, God is going to answer his prayer, but not like you might think. "So the Lord said to Joshua, get up." How's that for an answer to prayer? You don't want to hear that when you pray. Get up.

"Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, have both stolen and deceived, and they have also put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies but turned their backs before their enemies because they had become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you any more unless you destroy the accursed from among you."

Why would God say that? Here's why. Because there is a time to pray and there is a time to move. There is a time to get on your face. There is a time to stand on your feet. And now is the time to stand on your feet. I appreciate your prayer, Joshua, but now is the time to stop your whining and deal with the problem at hand. You remember when Moses was leading Israel out of Egypt. They came to the Red Sea. The armies of Egypt were behind them. I mean right on their tail. They come to the edge of the Red Sea. Moses thinks this is a good time to have a prayer meeting. So he starts praying. And the Bible says this "the Lord said to Moses why are you crying to Me?" Tell the people to get moving. Moses, I love your prayers, but now's the time not to have a prayer meeting. Move, buddy, move. Get into that water. Go.

All of that to say prayer is good. Prayer is essential. But not every prayer is pure. Sometimes a person can pray to cover up disobedience or laziness. He needs to get up. Action without prayer is atheism. But prayer without action is presumption. You think you can just presume to shoot up a prayer and not obey God? No, no, no, no. Get going. Get moving. You've got to do something, Joshua. Not every prayer is pure. Because the purpose of prayer is not to inform God of my needs. Do you know that?

Do you think when you pray and you tell God something, God's up there going wow. Thank you for the information. I did not know that until you brought it to My attention. But now I'm duly informed. The purpose of prayer is not to inform God. It's to invite God to rule your life. You are letting Him have control. So pray early in the process and report for duty. What do You want me to do, Lord? Every prayer isn't pure.

So we've framed three sides of Achan's picture. Every disobedience is detrimental. Every sin comes in stages. Every prayer isn't pure. Let's complete the picture. Fourth side, fourth statement, fourth axiomatic truth. Every failure isn't forever. So this is the but to the but. Chapter 1, verse 1, but the children of Israel. You're going ooh. After six chapters of good stuff, that's not a good word. But now I want to give another turn in the road. But every failure isn't forever.

So look at verse 26. After they took care of business, it says "they raised over Achan, over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day", the time of its writing, "So the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore, the name of that place has been called the valley of Achor to this day." Why is it called the valley of Achor? What does Achor sound like? Sounds like Achan doesn't it? Achan, Achor. it's the same word in Hebrew. One is for a person. One is for a place. Same word. They called the valley after the guy who sinned in the valley. It was a pun. It was a play on words. They named that the valley of trouble.

So the story of Achan was a defeat. It was a sorrow. It was a judgment. It was a blot on their national record. Achan is executed. He's buried in the valley of trouble, because he was a trouble maker. But that's not the end of the story. Twice in the Old Testament there is a direct reference to what happened here and the valley of Achor. I don't have time to look at both of them. One is found in Isaiah 65 where God says the valley of Achor will be filled with pasture lands one day, speaking of a future prosperity.

But the second one is found in the prophet Hosea. Hosea 2. I'm going to read it to You But we'll show you the scripture on the screen. Hosea 2. The setting is very similar. It's a time of judgement during Hosea's time. It's a time of trouble during Hosea's time. But he gives a glimmer of hope and he makes direct reference to the incident of Achan. this is Hosea 2:14. "Therefore, behold", God says, "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope. She shall sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the days when she came up from Egypt."

Here's the point. The place that was associated with defeat and downfall, that will be a place of victory. Now the immediate fulfillment of that won't take place till the Messianic kingdom, the millennial kingdom. But there is a principle in that promise. God is saying I can take your trouble and turn it into triumph. I can take your defeat and make it delight. I can make a door of heaviness close and open a door of hope from that place of defeat.

So here's the whole story of Achan. Sin can't be taken lightly. It leads to judgment. But God uses judgment to turn people to Him. And when they turn to Him, He offers them hope. So that even their worst failure can be part of their testimony in the future. Your failures in the past do not have to mark your future. You don't have to be defined by well I'm this. I'm that. I committed this. That may be, but that can become part of your comfort and your ministry and your help for others who are struggling with that. You can offer, you can open a door of hope in a place of failure. Every failure isn't forever.

To put it in the words of the prophet "to give them beauty for ashes, it's the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." So instead of saying here comes trouble when you come around, it could be here comes triumph in the midst of trouble.

Father, thank You for these truths, these principles that rise to the top when we boil it all down. And we have a picture now before us of a troublemaker, a troubling individual, one who brought trouble to the land. But from that valley where he was buried, a door of hope opened up. That's a testimony of every person being baptized. That's the testimony of every believer who is saved. And even if we have been failing at something, with someone, in dealing with temptation, You can for us make it part of our testimony as a door of hope. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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