One of the privileges of God’s new ‘Family’

In God’s New Covenant His family is scattered all over the world.  It is different from the Old Covenant where one man’s sin influenced the whole nation.  We want to look at the example of Achan to show the difference.

#  The ‘family’ principle of the Old Covenant

  • Israel was one big family.  In the Old Covenant the Israelite nation was one big ‘family.’  What one person did influenced the whole community.  When they made a covenant with God at Sinai, the nation as a whole was responsible to God.  All twelve tribes agreed to keep the commands of God.  The Old Testament laws specifically deal only with the nation of Israel.
  • So what Achan did influenced the whole nation.  When the conquest of Canaan began, God told the Israelites that the first city they conquered was devoted to Him.  All Jericho’s treasures belonged to God and the Tabernacle.  They could take nothing for themselves.  Nobody knew that Achan took a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of sliver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels. 1
  • It caused the defeat at Ai.  Subsequent to the conquest of Jericho, the Israelites sent a small contingent of soldiers to conquer Ai.  They were defeated and 36 men were killed. 2  It was a direct result of Achan’s sin that husbands and fathers died.  Even though the Israelites did not know what Achan did, the whole nation suffered.
  • The nation reacted with shock.
    • ‘…the hearts of the people melted and became like water.’ 3
    • ‘…Joshua tore his clothes and fell face down to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till the evening.’ 4
  • God was not amused.  He asked Joshua, ’What are you doing down on your face?’ 5   
      • Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep.’ 6
    • They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.’ 7

One man’s sin affected the nation.

#  God’s new nation

With God’s universal invitation to all nations to join His Kingdom, His people are scattered all over the world. 8  There is no way that those millions of followers of Jesus can be treated as one.  So the individual follower of Jesus, who has the Holy Spirit to guide him/her, is personally responsible to God.

Application

Even if God’s family is scattered, our walk with God still effects others.  Jesus said, ‘You are the salt of the earth….   You are the light of the world….’ 9  With the Holy Spirit’s guidance and help, we can be positive ‘Achans’ in society, spreading the sweet savour of our Lord Jesus.

References

  1. Joshua 7:20-21
  2. Joshua 7
  3. Joshua 7:5c
  4. Joshua 7:6
  5. Joshua 7:10
  6. Joshua 7:11
  7. Joshua 7:11b
  8. 1 Peter 1:1-2
  9. Matthew 5:13-14

Suicide and Salvation

SuiSuicideOne of the grim realities of life is suicide.

  • According to statistics, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally, for all ages.
  • According to the World Health Organisation, nearly one million people die yearly from suicide.
  • According to Centres for Disease Control, an average of one person dies by suicide every 15 minutes. 1

Sometimes it is a person that you didn’t expect it of, like the actor, Robin Williams. Sometimes it is a committed believer. He or she was part of God’s family, saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Many families have been devastated when a parent or child committed suicide. What triggered them to such despair that they decided to end it all in a moment of deep anguish?

When we want to comfort the bereaved relatives, should we be like Job’s friends? Should we follow the example of  his miserable supporters and explain ‘wisely,’ that a person who murdered him or herself won’t be in heaven?

Do we have to be so cruel as to condemn without insight? Do we have the right to add to the agony of the family? Of course not. That would compound their grief and might cause alienation. As far as we are concerned, we doubt if God gave us the right to judge or make pronouncements about the eternal destination of a person who committed suicide.

We don’t have insight into a person’s spirit. Can we understand the despair of people in certain situations, like the loss of a spouse or some terrible tragedy? It is doubtful. Only God is omniscient. We are not. Eventually only God knows all the details. Fortunately He is fair. He knows what happened, and He is the Righteous Judge.

However, we believe there are guidelines concerning eternal destinations:

  • What was the person’s relationship with Jesus before death?  This is important, since God established a rule: we decide our position in eternity here, in the now. If a person is a lover of God here, we can expect that he will be with God eternally and still love Him. If a person is saved and lives a holy life here, we can expect that he should be with God in eternity.
  • What about a person that seemed to have no relationship with God? We might come to a fixed conclusion, but then again, what might have happened at the final hour? Look at the thief on the cross. 2 At the very last he realised who Jesus is, and that insight brought him eternal happiness in the presence of God.

Conclusion

Deciding the eternal destination of someone who committed suicide is, as far as we are concerned, not within the scope of humans. That belongs to our Lord God Almighty, who knows man’s heart. At the final judgement we will probably know. Until then, it is advisable to keep our opinions safely to ourselves and not compound the grief of people who lost a relative or friend who decided to end it all.

References

  1. Erin Gilmer, Health as a Human Right, May 23, 2011.
  2. Luke 23:39-43.
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