Tag Archives: connectedness of body

Joshua 22:1-6 – Lessons from the Eastern Tribes

For those who follow after God, these six verses of Joshua 22 issue a hefty challenge.

  • It only takes a little digging to see where the challenge comes.
    • (1) Obedience – Submitting to Authority
    • (2) Connectedness of the “Body”
    • (3) Clinging to God





Joshua 22:1–3 (ESV) — 1 At that time Joshua summoned the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 2 and said to them, “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you and have obeyed my voice in all that I have commanded you. 3 You have not forsaken your brothers these many days, down to this day, but have been careful to keep the charge of the Lord your God.


Our first three verses lead us into some background.

  • We need to take a look at Numbers 32 and Joshua 1.


Numbers 32:

“Moses the servant of the Lord commanded” what?

  • In Numbers 32, the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh (vs. 33) are given the land on the east side of the Jordan.
  • Their first inclination, once given the land, was not surprising.
  • Numbers 32:5 (ESV) — 5 And they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan.”


Moses was not pleased.

  • Numbers 32:6 (ESV) — 6 But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here?
  • The answer, of course, was “NO!”
  • Among other things, Moses said it would “discourage the heart of the people of Israel” (vs. 7).


Then Moses warned them:

  • Numbers 32:15 (ESV) — 15 For if you turn away from following him, he will again abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all this people.”
  • The last time some of the Israelites refused to cross the Jordan, they wandered for 40 years.
  • Moses is suggesting something like this will happen again.


Wisely, their response was:

  • “…we will take up arms, ready to go before the people of Israel, until we have brought them to their place…” (vs. 17).
  • We will not return to our homes until each of the people of Israel has gained his inheritance” (vs. 18).


Joshua 1:

What was Joshua’s “all that I have commanded you”?

  • We find it in Joshua 1.
  • Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you…” (vs. 13).
  • Joshua simply repeated the commands of Moses.
  • Simple enough, but would they submit to the new leadership of Joshua.
  • Moses’ authority was established, but Joshua had yet to solidify his leadership.


Their response to Joshua:

  • 16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses!


Joshua commended the people for their obedience to Moses and to himself.

  • There are a number of reasons why this obedience was so important.
    • More soldiers.
    • Unity and morale.


But, one is difficult for Westerners to understand.

  • It is profoundly offensive to the individualistic culture of the West.
  • It has to do with the individual’s responsibility to the “body”.





Moses made it clear that the 2 ½ tribes had a responsibility to join with their brothers in the Conquest of Canaan.

  • Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here?” (vs. 6).


We saw earlier that the 2 ½ tribes first response to this responsibility was essentially, to give it a Western spin, “we got ours, leaves us alone”.

  • Their actual words were, “Do not take us across the Jordan” (vs. 5).


Moses had some harsh words for this rebellion.

  • Numbers 32:23 (ESV) — 23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.
  • As part of the elect nation of Israel, called out by God to bless the nations, the 2 ½ tribes had responsibilities to the group – well beyond themselves.
  • To abandon this responsibility to the group was a sin “against the Lord”.


But worse than that, their “we got ours, leave us alone” sin would impact the body of Israel negatively.

  • Moses said, it would “discourage the heart of the people of Israel” (vs. 7).
  • This was itself sinful; a stumbling block.


So the 2 ½ tribes desire to stay behind on their rightful land was both –

  • (1) A sin against God – that would have affected their standing with God.
    • For which they sin would be “found out” – ominous language.
    • (2) A sin against the body of Israel – that would have been a stumbling block.


But wait, there is more:

  • (3) Their sin would have also resulted in their absence from fellowship.
  • Or to put more severely, it would have severed the fellowship of the body of Israel.
  • As the body of Israel sought to pursue God’s will in the Conquest, they would have been absent.
  • They would have missed out on all that God had done on Israel’s behalf – the work of God in redemptive history.


BTW – Is the body of Christ participating/fellowshipping together in worship, sacraments, learning and teaching a work of God in redemptive history?


We have just discovered the connectedness of the body of Israel.

  • The actions of a few have consequences for the many.
  • This was true whether they believed it or not.
  • This concept clashes with Western individualism.


Connectedness – A Western Hang-up:

It is an affront to everything American to teach that sin is not a private affair!

  • A Barna survey revealed the following about American Christianity –
  • “The Christian faith is less a life perspective that challenges the supremacy of individualism as it is a faith being defined through individualism…with feelings and emotions more significant” than Scripture – John Jefferson Davis.


However, theologically, the Church is put together in such a way that, just as we are in union with Christ, we are in union with our brothers and sisters.

  • Union with Christ is not individualistic!
  • The implications of this are many.


Joshua 22 speaks of one such implication:

  • Joshua 22:18b (ESV) — 18b And if you [2 ½ tribes] too rebel against the Lord today then tomorrow he will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel.
  • Achan’s sin also affected the body of Israel.


Paul also speaks about the implications of this union.

  • 1 Corinthians 12:26–27 (ESV) — 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
  • And speaking about the Church and how it is defiled he says, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6b).
    • The leaven is sin (an act of sexual immorality); the lump is the Church.


If you are in Christ, you are no longer your own!

  • The 2 ½ tribes who were “in Israel”, were no longer their own.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (ESV) — 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.


The Blessing of Obedience and Connectedness:

Joshua 22:4 & 6 (ESV) — 4 And now the Lord your God has given rest to your brothers, as he promised them. Therefore turn and go to your tents in the land where your possession lies, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan…6 So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents.


The 2 ½ tribes obedience to God, Moses and Joshua to join with their brothers bore fruit:

  • They presumably already had rest in their land – it had been conquered.
  • But, now their rest included a participation in the rest of their brothers.


In fact, in Joshua 22 we see just how much they came to value this connectedness of the body of Israel.

  • They built an altar to bear witness to it.
  • Joshua 22:24 (ESV) — 24 No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the Lord, the God of Israel?





Joshua 22:5 (ESV) — 5 Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”


After Joshua commended them for their obedience he offered a word of exhortation.

  • He quoted Moses quoting God:
  • Deuteronomy 6:4–5 (ESV) — 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.


Some 1400+ years later the other Joshua – Jesus – would say:

  • Matthew 22:37–40 (ESV) — 37 …“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”


Joshua’s words make clear, as we have seen previously, that obedience to the covenant sworn at Sinai was needed.

  • Israel had obligated itself to the law at Sinai.
  • If there were disobedience, Israel itself would come under a “cherem”.
  • Disobedience by any tribe would also bring God’s curses upon the entire body – as we just saw.


But, behind this outward conditional “works” based obedience, there was an inward heart issue.

  • Cling to him and…serve him with all your heart and with all your soul”.
  • Joshua exhorts the tribes to “cling” to God serving Him with all their heart and soul.
  • The Hebrew carries with it the idea of being physically “joined” to something.


The Greek LXX chose a word for “cling”, “kollao”, that is often used in texts that speak of sexual union.

  • Ephesians 5:31 (ESV) — 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”


The point, apparently, was to convey how dependent upon and intimate the clinging was to be.

  • Theologically speaking, they were to be one with God with their heart, soul and mind.


Paul speaks of this intimate clinging too:

  • 1 Corinthians 6:17 (ESV) — 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.


Who powers the “clinging” that Joshua exhorts?

  • Who is the Joiner?
  • Jeremiah 13:11 (ESV) — 11bso I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.
  • God chose Israel as His people; they did not choose him.
    • In fact, they failed over and over.
    • He chose to join Himself to them in covenant.


So, it seems that when Joshua spoke of clinging to God, he was alluding not just to being faithful to God in obedience as His chosen people.

  • He already said that.


But, given the intimacy of the term and the source of the clinging, it appears he was referring to something like the faith of Abraham.

  • A trust in what God has done.
  • A trust that He will do what He says He will do – that He was a covenant faithful God.


This trust is the very opposite of the idolatrous trust in themselves or others.

  • Sadly, the type of trust Israel was quite good at – 12 spies, Achan, Ai, etc.
  • The type we just read about in Jer. 13:11.


Moses alluded to a heart based trust/clinging this way:

  • Deuteronomy 10:16 (ESV) — 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.


And, looking forward in God’s redemptive history, this meant that they were to cling to Christ as found in the Pentateuch:

  • The “He” who crushes the serpents head (Gen. 3:15).
  • The Promised Offspring (Gen. 26).


Jeremiah sums up the kind of clinging that Joshua was advocating.

  • Jeremiah 17:5–8 (ESV) — 5 Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”



Joshua 7:10-12 – Achan’s Sin and Israel’s Guilt

Joshua 7:10–12 (ESV) — 10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.


Achan sinned; he broke the “cherem” God enacted against Jericho.

  • And yet, in spite of Achan’s individual action, all of Israel was considered guilty.
  • Israel has sinned” (vs. 11)
  • Israel broke faith” (vs. 1)
  • The anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel” (vs. 1)


We have got to try and figure out how this can be.

            Why is Israel seen as corporately guilty for Achan’s individual sin?





To get at this question, we need to understand Achan’s sin from a few different perspectives.

  • 1) Outward Expression of His Sin
  • 2) Inward Expression of His Sin
  • 3) Covenantal Expression of His Sin


The texts to do this are found in verse 1 and 21.

  • Joshua 7:1 (ESV) — 1 But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.
  • Joshua 7:21 (ESV) — 21 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.”


Outward Expression:

There is nothing very profound here at all.

  • Achan stole “a beautiful cloak”, “200 shekels of silver”, and a “bar of gold”.
  • Verses 1 and 21 tell us he “took” them.
  • And after he did, he hid them beneath his tent.
    • The actions of a guilty man.
    • And significant, as we will see later.
  • He hid them in a holy place; Israel’s camp
  • So the outward expression is the physical act of taking the loot and hiding it.


He no doubt justified his actions with some sorry inner dialogue, as we all do.

  • Perhaps with, “The Smiths’ won’t miss these – they’re dead anyway”.
  • Or maybe, “The tabernacle treasury is overflowing, I will care for the excess”.



Inward Expression:

Achan reveals the inward expression of his sin in verse 21.

  • He says, “I coveted them and then took them”.
  • So the inward expression of his sin was coveting.


His coveting gave birth to the stealing.

  • This is very similar to James 4.
  • James 4:2b (ESV) — 2b You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.
  • The inward manifestation of our sin (coveting) leads to the outward physical act of sin (stealing, fights and quarrels).
  • Achan’ coveted riches and he became a thief.


In Achan’s case, the sad part is that God was literally in the process of giving to Achan and Israel the Promised Land.

  • In spite of this, Achan was still not satisfied.
  • More is never enough!


No Answers Yet:

Now thus far, we haven’t really gained any insight into the reason Achan’s sin wreaked such havoc on Israel.

  • Surely he was not the only Israelite who had sinned since Israel crossed the Jordan.
  • After all, we know that all are desperately wicked.
  • And again, as James 4 teaches us, our worldly desires are always warring within us.


In fact, at this point God’s imputing Achan’s sin to Israel seems a bit arbitrary and harsh.

  • Especially from this side of the cross.
  • Achan coveted and stole and God’s response to Israel is to declare, “they have become devoted for destruction” (vs. 12).


I think the third expression, however, will help us begin to make sense of our initial question.


Covenantal Expression:

Joshua 1 tells us that Achan “took some of the devoted things”.

  • In other words, God made a covenant with Israel concerning Jericho, its treasure, and people.
  • The people (except Rahab) were to be destroyed; the treasure given to the sanctuary treasury.
    • Joshua 6:17a (ESV) — 17a And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.
    • Joshua 6:19 (ESV) — 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”
  • Achan disobeyed this covenant and took the things of God for himself.
  • So the covenantal expression of Achan’s sin is that he broke the “cherem” God had declared against Jericho.


This is far more profound than just the external and internal expressions by themselves.

  • “Achan’s violation was more than mere theft—it was spiritual adultery against Yahweh because he transgressed the cherem principle” – Michael Heiser.
  • “Achan was acting in a way that broke the fundamental covenantal relationship between God and Israel” – David Howard.


The covenantal expression of Achan’s sin leads us directly into why Israel was guilty before God.





We need to get one thing out the way.

  • One obvious reason that Israel was found guilty for an individual’s sin is because God said so.
  • Joshua 6:18 (ESV) — 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it.
  • Though “God said so” is sufficient, fortunately, God’s revelation has given us more detail for why He would say so.


Sin – Individual and the Group:

There is a theological dynamic in play between the individual and the group of God’s elect.

  • And it is a frightening one.
  • “Though it was a single person that sinned, the children of Israel are said to commit the trespass, because one of their body did it, and he was not as yet separated from them, nor disowned by them.” – Matthew Henry
  • The sin of “Achan robbed the whole nation of the purity and holiness which it ought to possess before God” – Woudstra.
  • David Howard says simply “the one man’s sin infected the nation as a whole”.


This is why God tells Joshua in our text today:

  • Joshua 7:12 (ESV) — 12 Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.


Achan violated the devotion and Israel is seen as guilty because the sin, both its perpetrator and the booty (buried in his tent in Israel’s camp), is “in” them.

  • Therefore, Israel is in union with the sin of Achan.
  • And freedom from the sin and its guilt comes only from separation from sin.
    • A separation that will cost Achan his life.


This principle is revealed in Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement.


Separation from Sin:

Leviticus 16:6–10 (ESV) — 6 “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. 9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as [first goat] a sin offering, 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel [second goat] shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.


The two goats demonstrate a couple of things:

  • Atonement comes from the “sin offering” – sacrifice.
    • This is a well known feature of Jesus’ atonement.
  • Atonement also comes from the sin “sent away” – separation.
    • This necessity of separation from sin is foundational to our current subject matter.
    • And it is a parallel to Jesus being sent outside Jerusalem to be crucified.


Michael Heiser tells us why:

“In the Day of Atonement ritual, the goat for Yahweh—the goat that was sacrificed—purifies the people of Israel and the Tabernacle/Temple. Sins were ‘atoned for’ and what had been ritually unclean was sanctified and made holy. But purification only described part of what atonement meant…The goat for Azazel banished the sins of the Israelites to the realm outside Israel. Why? Because the ground on which Yahweh had his dwelling was holy; the ground outside the parameters of the Israelite camp [wasn’t]. Sin could not be tolerated in the camp of Israel, for it was holy ground. Sins had to be ‘transported’ to where evil belonged—the territory outside Israel…” – Michael Heiser.


Our Answer:

So I think now we know why God would consider Israel guilty for Achan’s sin.

  • It wasn’t just because he stole.
  • It wasn’t just because he coveted.
  • It was also because he broke a specific covenant with God as a member of Israel.
  • And in so doing he corrupted Israel because he was part of Israel.


“I suppose many twentieth-century American individualists might believe this is unfair. Naturally, we can complain. But we do better to fear. Fear because one man’s sin turned away God’s presence from a whole people. Fear because a man’s whole household was drawn into his punishment. We Christians generally have such tame views of sin; wrongly, we have no paranoia over this contagious power (cf. 1 Cor. 5; Acts 5:1–11) – Dale Davis.


The link between the individual and the body of the elect of God is not just an OT concept.

  • It is powerfully present in the NT as well.
  • And we would do well to reflect on it.





The link revealed in Joshua 7 still has relevance for the NT Church.

  • We will do a quick survey.


Church Body Life:

  • 1 Corinthians 12:12–13 (ESV) — 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:26–27 (ESV) — 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.


Church Discipline:

  • 1 Corinthians 5:1–2 (ESV) — 1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
  • 1 Corinthians 5:5–7 (ESV) — 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.


Original Sin and Salvation:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:21–22 (ESV) — 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.


Union with Christ:

  • Romans 6:3–4 (ESV) — 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.


Final Thought:

In Christ we are all connected to one another.

  • This is both a profound and scary thought.
  • And it means that the phrase “my sin doesn’t affect you” is simply not true.
  • If a member of the body is in sin, the body of Christ suffers.