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Put God First (2 of 4)

Mike Connell

Page 6 of 10
Now notice you see two words there: ‘devoted to God’; and ‘cursed.’ You can't have them both - its one or the other. He's saying: this city Jericho - I want you to touch none of it.

He said: I want you to conquer the city, and when you've conquered the city, whatever wealth you find there, it comes into the house of the Lord. It is the Lord's - it is the first fruit, the first portion.

Now you can understand, it's the same deal with the sheep. I've got all these battles, I'm going to have to fight to conquer all these cities; and here's the first city, and now I start to see gold and silver.

Maybe we're not going to win so much in the other cities. You know, there's a lot in this first city. Maybe we could just wait until we've conquered three or four cities, and then we'll take our portion and give it to the Lord then. We'll wait and sort of see how this goes.

No, He required them, by faith. He said: “the first belongs to Me”. He required them by faith to take what was the first, and give it to Him, and believe that if they did that, the rest would all be blessed.

So that first thing, the first portion, the tithe or whatever it is that belongs to the Lord - it either belongs to the Lord and it's devoted, or it's stolen from the Lord and it's a curse, so notice what happens here in Joshua 7.

“Now the children of Israel committed a trespass concerning the accursed things (or ‘devoted’ things), for Achan took of the devoted things (or the ‘accursed’ things), and the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel”.

Before he took it, it was devoted to the Lord. After he took it, it was a cursed object. Now this is extraordinary.

That means, I can have an object - take this bottle here. So God says: you give me the bottle, the first thing - and there's lots of water coming after this. I look at it thinking: I'm pretty thirsty, I wouldn't mind that you know? I've been fighting all these battles, I've got to fight this war, and here's all this treasure. I wouldn't mind that, you know? It'd be quite good for me to have that.

I've got to decide what to do with it. The choice is always mine; so the choice is: either I give it to God - in which case it's devoted; or I keep it - in which case it's cursed.

Isn't that interesting? That's what He's saying. He said: if you give it to Me, then it's devoted, and blessing is on the rest; but if you hold it back, it's cursed, and now everything else is cursed.

So the next thing that happened was: they had no power to stand in the battle. They were defeated by an inferior army at their next battle; and God's trying to teach us, that behind the natural, there is a spiritual power.

It wasn't that the army was any less, or they had fewer weapons. The problem was they lacked power. When Achan held back the thing that was devoted to God, and kept it for himself, he and everyone around him no longer had power to overcome. The power to overcome depended on the devoted thing belonging to the Lord.

It’s the same thing with our finances, and our resources. If we keep back from God what is owing to Him, it turns from being devoted to Him, to being a curse for us. When I give my first portion to the Lord, it ensures blessing on the rest. If I hold it back, I'm under the power of Mammon.

Now why did this guy go for it? The Bible makes it clear why he took it. Joshua 7:20 “They finally found him out”, he said: “I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels - here it is - I coveted them, and took them, and I hid them”.

The Bible says in the New Testament, that coveting is idolatry. So what happened is this. He went in, he fought the battle. When he fought the battle and they conquered the city, he comes into a place where there are these garments, in silver and gold.

Now the instructions were clear: this belongs to the Lord. Give it to the Lord. But he looked at it and thought: ooh man, I could do with these - this is good. He kept it for himself. He coveted what belonged to God; and so the sin of coveting, or greed, indicates he was under the power of the spirit of Mammon.