Daily Devotional

July 28, 2018

Nothing Hidden

Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. – 1 Timothy 5:24

Years ago I fulfilled my military obligation by serving six years in the Army National Guard. That took place in peacetime, so my memories are all very trivial compared to the terrible things that have been experienced by others. However, we had some tense moments, and one stands out in my mind. We were at summer camp, in a semi-desert area where we could fire our howitzers. One evening, in the approaching darkness, we were routed out from free time to stand in formation. It seems that someone had stolen a watermelon from one of the officers, and the officer was hopping mad.

As we stood there, the officer berated us over the stolen watermelon and gave the culprit a chance to confess. Although I had not had anything to do with the theft, nor did I know who was guilty, I found the situation very uncomfortable. Would someone confess? And if so, what would happen to him? Would the whole group be punished? Worst of all, what if I was somehow wrongly accused of being involved? Finally the officer gave up in disgust. The thief had gotten by—at least insofar as earthly retribution goes.

The Bible tells the story of Achan, and he did not get away with his theft. The Israelites had been expressly forbidden to take any of the spoils from the battle of Jericho. Achan must have thought he could get away with it, so he took several items and buried them in the ground under his tent. Whereas our lieutenant was only a man, and could not know who had stolen the watermelon, Achan was dealing with the God of the entire universe, who knows all things. Think of Achan’s terror as Israel stood in formation before Joshua and his officers, and they kept getting closer and closer to him! By the time Achan was taken, he did not even try to deny his crime. But note that confession at this point was too late. He and his loved ones had to suffer for his crime.

There is coming a day when all people will stand before God. Those who have sins which have not been washed away by the Blood of Jesus will be judged, and none will “get by.” However, today there is an opportunity to “send” our sins before us. If we have not confessed them and repented, we can do so, asking God for mercy. He will forgive us and our sins will not be remembered against us. We will never find ourselves in the position of the watermelon thief—wondering if we will be caught and punished—or of Achan, who was caught and punished.