I've been meaning to post this for a few days, but life happens. So here we go.
I remember as a little kid I thought that my Mom and Dad were clueless as to what my life was like. More than once when they made decisions about my life (what I could and could not do), I would respond with much indignation, "That's not fair!" Of course for this to be an accurate and truthful statement, it would mean that I, as a 10 year old boy, knew more about what was fair than my older, wiser parents.
My parents responded, in the same way that I do now when my kids utter the "fair" comment: "Life is not fair. You better get used to it." The amazing thing about that statement is that it doesn't defend what was done. Mom and Dad didn't say, "Well, this is why we decided this..." No, they actually supported what I said by responding with the "life is not fair" answer. Why did they respond this way, and why do I respond this way to my children sometimes?
Simply because from the childs perspective, it isn't fair. But their perspective is limited by a lack of: age, knowledge, experience, wisdom, and hindsight.
Now what is the point of all of this.
When reading in Joshua 6 thru 10 I read of the sin of Achan. In short, after the Israelites conquered Jericho, they were told not to keep any of the "stuff" for themselves, but to give it to God. Achan kept some stuff. God had him and his family killed for it. Now that's the condensed version. But after reading it (and this was not the first time I had read the story), I cried out, "That's not fair!"
So I went back and read it again. Reading closer, it took on a different light.
First, God told them in Joshua 6:18 "But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about hyour own destruction by taking any of them...all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must be go into his treasury."
So God said to them straight up. Keep away from it. You cannot have it. It belongs to me. So Achan not only didn't obey God, in essence, he stold from God. So he was warned of the consequences ahead of time.
Second, they were told that if someone took some of the gold/silver that "you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction & bring touble on it." (vs. 18 again). So now they were told, keep away, it belongs to God, and if you take any, you will bring destruction to the nation.
Now the bonehead Achan ignores all of this and thinks he will take a little bit. What happens, the Israelites go to conquer the next city and get toasted. Thirty six men lost their lives because of this. It is now no longer a little sin, but something that has impacted many others, especially when you consider that these people had friends and families.
Now, after this Joshua is feeling bummed out. He goes to God and God tells Josh, "Hey, wake up. There's sin in the camp. I told you this would happen." (this is my paraphrase of part of chapter 7). In fact if you look at the start of chapter 7 Joshua and his men decide to go against this city without seeking God first. If they had, I think God would have told them, hold on, there's this dude named Achan that you need to deal with first.
But it gets even better.
God tells Jacob that tomorrow have the people come out tribe by tribe. He then says, I'm going to go through them tribe by tribe, clan by clan, family by family until I come to the person who has done this.
Now, if Achan was a smart person he wouldn't have taken the items in the first place, but I'm thinking now would be a good time to 'fess up about what was done. But he doesn't. He rides it out to the end. All the time hiding and covering up what he has done.
As the story comes to a horrible end, Achan reveals something about himself. He confesses to what he did, but only after he is pointed out by God. In his confession he says "I coveted them and took them." That word "coveted" means it was not a rash decision. It was not a spur of the moment thing. He had a heart that coveted. He saw. He wanted. He desired. He had to have it. He took it, knowing full well what the consequences were.
By the end of the chapter the consequences come home to roost for Achan and his family. They are all destroyed.
Now, maybe you still are thinking that this is not fair.
And to be honest with you, I still sometimes think the same thing.
But after going back over it, I see that God warned ahead of time what would happen. The deed caused death to others. The sin was a matter of the persons heart. The consequences that were warned of, were delievered.
Sometimes we may think God is not fair. And He may not be fair in our eyes. But just as I was limited by my lack of age, experience, wisdom, hindsight and knowldege when I thought my parents were not being fair, so I am limited by the same things when I think God is not being fair, except to a much larger degree, oh, and my definition of what is fair is also limited by the fact that He is God and I'm not.
So in the end I came to two conclusions.
God may not always "seem" fair. But He is always right. I can fully trust Him.
And: My actions may have devastaing consequences to my family.
Oh, and just in case you think this kind of thing is an Old Testament God thing, check out the book of Acts, where a husband and wife dropped dead for lying to God about some details concerning their "stuff".
Ok, so there's that.