Joshua 13:8-13 – The Slippery Slope of Tolerating Sin In Our Lives

Posted: June 26, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Joshua 13:8-13

The Land Divided East of the Jordan

 

It happens every week somewhere in our country. You see it almost daily it seems from somewhere. Recently, in the news, we have seen a spade of stories about school teachers gone wrong. There have been quite a few female teachers here recently who have been arrested for having sexual relationships with one or more of their teenage male students. We have seen a spade of male teachers who have been arrested for touching female students inappropriately. We have seen male teachers who have invited female students to exchange pornographic photos with them. We condemn them roundly and throw them in jail and, yes, they should pay the consequences of having violated the law and violated the trust that we, as parents, have entrusted them with when it comes even to our children, even our high school age children. The sins of these men and women arrested have certainly been made public and they are often publicly shamed. They are always lose their jobs. They are often sent to prison. They often have to move away from the region where the offenses have occurred even if they are not sent to prison. They often will never be able to teach again. These men and women will often be destroyed by their lapse of morality and straying from the trust that has been placed in them.

 

However, the thing that I keep coming back to when these types of things are exposed is what sins am I hiding from the world? There are none of us who is perfect. I am not saying that we should simply accept what some of these men and women have done to the students under their care. We shouldn’t. We should press that these people get help that they need even if they are in prison. We must see repentance in them before we begin the process of healing with them and restoring. We must see that they are humbling seeking the forgiveness of God and are willing to do anything to cleanse themselves from even having the appearance of continuing in their now very public sin. However what sins are you and I tolerating in our lives?

 

The Israelites were told to completely cleanse the land of the Canaanite peoples, as God’s judgment against their sin. The Israelites however did not complete the job. Yes they conquered all of a Canaan where the former inhabitants no longer had the political power and land that they once had, but they did not completely drive out all the former inhabitants. They tolerated the sin in their midst. They tolerated the pagan lifestyle in their midst. It would come back to haunt them. Just as all these teachers that you hear about hiding their sexual sins from the world, thinking that it’s OK, rationalizing away how it is OK. When we tolerate sin in our lives as if it is OK for us (maybe not others but it is OK for us because we can handle it and keep it hidden), it always, always comes back to haunt us and often has dire consequences.

 

That is what I thought of this morning when I landed on the last verse of this passage that seems so mundane. It was profound in that what the Israelites failed to do to drive out evil is often our own downfall:

 

8 The other half of Manasseh,[a] the Reubenites and the Gadites had received the inheritance that Moses had given them east of the Jordan, as he, the servant of the Lord, had assigned it to them.

 

9 It extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the middle of the gorge, and included the whole plateau of Medeba as far as Dibon, 10 and all the towns of Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, out to the border of the Ammonites. 11 It also included Gilead, the territory of the people of Geshur and Maakah, all of Mount Hermon and all Bashan as far as Salekah— 12 that is, the whole kingdom of Og in Bashan, who had reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei. (He was the last of the Rephaites.) Moses had defeated them and taken over their land. 13 But the Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maakah, so they continue to live among the Israelites to this day.

 

In this passage, many, if not all, of the names of towns and geographical markers are meaningless to us, but we should not allow these facts to compromise our desire to read this and the next several passages. There is always something that we can learn from each passage (even genealogies, lists, and passages such as this one). It may require us to do a little research from books about the books of the Bible either digitally on the internet or from books we buy or check out. Here, the thing we should take away from this passage is the not so much the sames but what is said in the last verse. In my research on this passage, the one thing that scholars tell you about aside from trying to pinpoint in the modern day world where these places are is that fact that the Israelites failed to drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah.

 

This fact is cited as one of the reasons that the Israelites encountered so many problems later on in the history of ancient Israel. As they settled the land, they failed to fully conquer it and drive out ALL its inhabitants. The cancer-like presence of these pagan idol worshippers caused unending difficulties for the Israelites, as the book of Judges records. Just as they failed to remove sin from the land, believers today often fail to remove sin completely from their lives. As a self-test, we often should re-read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). We must ask ourselves whether or not we are tolerating or even reveling in sinful practices. We must ask ourselves whether or not we are harboring sin in our minds or actions and calling it OK just because we have not been exposed yet. We must ask ourselves whether we condemn others whose sins have been found out but yet say our pet sins are still private and not yet public.

 

While we do not condone what has happened with these female teachers with male students and what has happened with male teachers and female students, we must take these situations as warning signs to our own lives and the sins that we are harboring as OK behavior – mainly because we haven’t gotten caught yet. All of our sins start in our mind as rationalizations as to why it would be OK at least just one time. Certainly that’s how we slide down that slippery slope to the places that these male and female teachers have found themselves. Sin, even when tolerated in the mind and is allowed to fester often brings on the physical act of the sin. Jesus told us that even when we tolerate sin in our mind we have already sinned. Jesus knew that tolerating sin in our mind always leads to action.

 

So, before, we become high and mighty about those whose sins are flung out into the open in a very public way, we should rather take this as an opportunity to examine ourselves deeply for the sins that we are tolerating in our lives. None of us is without sin not even one. What sins are you harboring? Lust? Greed? Murderous thoughts? Hatred? Sexual deviance? Pride? Let us take these situations as clarion calls to examine ourselves. When we truly look at ourselves and what sins we may be harboring in our lives as OK then maybe we can be less haughty and judgmental when it comes to these folks whose sins have been made broadly public. Maybe, we can pray that, though they will rightly pay for the consequences of their sin for the rest of their lives, they will be become humbled and repentant before the Lord. Maybe, we can pray that they will seek the Lord’s help in eradicating this sin from their lives. Maybe, we can pray that they will gladly do whatever it takes to change and to seek restoration to right-standing in society. Maybe, we can pray that the Holy Spirit will take this as an opportunity to convict us of our own pet sins that we refuse to give up simply because they have not been made public…yet.

 

Amen and Amen.

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