Law and Punishment

Bible:

“Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.”’”

So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel near . . . and Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

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. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor. Joshua 7:13, 16a, 18b-21, 25-26 ESV

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:7-8b, 24-25b ESV

Reflection:

Jerry was in bad trouble. He had gone out with some friends, and they had hung out in a hardware store. Jerry and all his friends loved tools and building things. They spent time looking at everything and talking about what projects they would like to do. The more Jerry looked at a really nice pocketknife with all kinds of different blades and attachments, the more he wanted it. When no one was looking, he put it in his pocket and tried to take it home, but he got caught. The store manager gave him a very stern talking-to, and told him he had to do some chores for the store until he earned enough to pay for the pocketknife. Jerry was sorry for what he had done. His parents were upset with him, but they loved him and forgave him. They knew it would best if he took his punishment, so Jerry did chores at the hardware store for many hours.

Achan also coveted some things that didn’t belong to him, and he stole them. God couldn’t let this sin go without punishing it. He showed Joshua and the people of Israel who had done this, and Joshua gave Achan a chance to confess what he had done. Achan knew what he had done was wrong. He might have been sorry, and if he trusted God to forgive him, God certainly did. But he still had to take his punishment. All the people of Israel needed to see that God couldn’t let sin go unpunished.

God puts parents, teachers, the police, and the government into their positions so they can enforce the law and keep people in order. If we break the rules or the law, we face punishment. Parents and teachers are almost always ready to forgive us when we are sorry, even if they have to give us consequences for what we do. And we can always be sure that God still loves us even when we’ve broken his laws. He sent Jesus to take the punishment for all our sins. Even if we have to take a little punishment for now, we know that we have life with God forever because of Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and sending Jesus to take the punishment for our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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