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The Spoils of God

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”   Col 2:13-15

Ancient warfare was brutal and ugly.  Triumphant soldiers turned into marauding hordes as they pillaged and plundered the fallen enemy.  The spoil was considered the soldiers salary for joining in the battle.  If a man risked life and limb to fight, he looked forward to his part of the spoil.  

It is in this context that Apostle Paul tells us that Christ spoiled principalities and powers.  He disarmed them, rendered them powerless, and stripped them of everything of value.  He took the spoil because it was his right . 

The Prince of Peace invaded the domain of the prince and power of the air.  He rendered Satan powerless at the temptations. He humiliated him in front of the Pharisees and Scribes. He triumphed over him in the spiritual, emotional, and physical realms. He stripped him of his power over human hearts. He disarmed the last great weapon of the devil—-Death:  Heb 2:14-15  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 

The Spoils of War 

The spoils of war belong to the victor.  Plunder, booty and spoils of war consisted of everything of value taken in battle—gold and silver, clothing, food, household items, weapons, implements of agriculture, camels, sheep, cattle, and men, women, and children to be used as slaves.  The triumphant army fell like vultures upon the spoils to restock their supplies and build up their strength.  Spoils, especially gold and silver, were taken for honor to the victor. 

The Spoil of  Jericho 

But, let us begin with a familiar Old Testament story of a man named Achan.  But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.  Joshua 7:1   

After Achan’s crime, the unwitting Joshua sent his armies against a little village called Ai.  He expected a minor skirmish that would quickly be quelled by his victorious army.  Instead, he suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of much smaller troops.  Joshua fell before God, complaining and whining about the loss as though God had betrayed Israel.  God rebuked him. 

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put [it] even among their own stuff.  Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, [but] turned [their] backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 

How did this happen?  Examine The circumstances of Achan’s sin with me.  Victory shouts and exultant cries of wilderness-weary Israelites still punctuated the air when Achan scrambled over the collapsed walls of Jericho.  Pandamonium ruled.  Conquerored warriors were herded down  cramped streets, wails and screams of Canaanites assaulted his eardrums, and everybody was swept up in the post-battle operations.  As he stopped to catch his breath, his eyes fell on some irresistable spoils.  

Before you criticize Achan too harshly, remember he had not seen and new clothes for nearly forty years, and possibly had not possessed gold or silver coins since he left Egypt.  It looked inviting.  It was easy enough to pick it up without anyone paying attention.  In his own words, “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they [are] hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” 

The smallness of Achan’s sin.  Traditional thinking condemns Achan for the sin of stealing and hypocrisy.  Was Achan guilty only of petty thievery?  Was it simply a matter of disobedience?  How would Achan’s third-rate theft mean much in the great spoils of Jericho? 

Although we do not claim to differentiate between types of sins, this sin seems to rank below others.  Rahab, the harlot, went free, while Achan, the thief, was caught.  Achan’s act  was pent-up desire, proportionately unsignificant. However, Achan’s sin was so egregious to God that Israel lost the battle of the villiage of Ai, after the great victory over Jericho. 

The greatness of Achan’s sin.  As small as it may have seemed, Achan’s transgression incited the wrath of God.  We discover the reason when we remember what God’s instructions were before Jericho. 

And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.  And the city shall be accursed, [even] it, and all that [are] therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that [are] with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep [yourselves] from the accursed thing, lest ye make [yourselves] accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, [are] consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.  Joshua 6:16   

In the Hebrew, the word accursed (charam {khaw-ram’}) is a strange word.  It means to destroy utterly, in some places.  In other places, it carries the meaning:  to devote, to consecrate.    Most of the time, the two intentions are carried out in the same act.  If you want to devote something, especially to God, you destroy it.  If you want to save it, you kill it.  If you keep something that is accursed, you become accursed yourself. 

This is the meaning given in other translations.  But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.  19  All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury.” Joshua 6:18 New International Version. 

God’s intention was not to literally destroy the vessels of silver and gold, but that the children of Israel would so disclaim them, so devote them to God that it would be just as if they were utterly destroyed. 

Achan’s Crime.  Achan’s greatest crime was not that he took what belonged to Jericho, or from his fellow Israelite.  It was not even that he coveted, stole or hid something. It was his unforgiveable failure to discern the spoils of God.  He usurped the divine prerogative.  He dared to claim that which was owned by God Himself. 

What did Achan take? Gold:  Symbolic of God’s glory, of doctrinal purity, of lives tempered with fire;  Silver:  The price of redemption, the singular objective of the divine cause; Garment:  The symbol of Israel’s image and identity. 

By taking the silver and gold, Achan was telling God…

  • that He could take care of himself instead of depending upon God.
  • that the manna, the water and the quale were paltry miracles.
  • that the deliverance from Egypt was coincidental.
  • that the crossing of Jordan was meaningless.
  • that the walls of Jericho would have fallen down anyway.
  • that he owed nothing to God for his deliverance and inheritance.
  • that instead of Achan conqueroring Jericho, Jericho conquerored Achan.

Outside Jericho, Achan knew his only hope was God.  Inside Jericho, he proclaimed victory, and himself the hero. 

Let us never forget who won our victory—-it has been won by Jesus!  It was his blood, his life, his death, his resurrection.  My efforts had nothing to do with my eternal salvation.  He spoiled principalities and powers for me! 

Beware lest any man spoil [rob] you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: Colossians 2:8-10           

Jesus took the initiative; he came down to my level; he identified with me.  Now He wants me to identify with him!  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.  13  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  Col 2:12-15 

We are God’s spoils!

  • The world belongs to God.  Psalm 50:12
  • The nation of Israel belongs to God. Exodus 6:6
  • Our bodies are belong to God. I Corinthians 6:19
  • Our gold belongs to God.  Malachi 3:8-10 

Abilities, talents, gifts, ministries, plans, desires—-all are devoted to God.  Your dreams are not yours, they are God’s!  Revival and growth; Building programs; Prayer power; Dynamic spiritual life; all these are not self-generated, self-fulfilling dreams.  They are planted in our hearts by God Himself!  Not only must we disavow ownership of the concepts, we must renounce any part of winning the victory.  It all belongs to God! 

Don’t touch God’s gold, God’s silver or God’s garments!  How do we touch them?  By choosing…

  • Convenience over conviction.
  • Pleasure over power.
  • Personal gain over kingdom-mindedness.
  • Sales over service.
  • PR over the Precious Word.
  • Security over sacrifice. 

Our devotion to God must be so complete that it would be as though we are destroyed unto ourselves. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:11 

Are you a modern-day Achan?  Have you entered Jericho only to frustrate the grace of God?  Have you reclaimed your identity, removed it from the reach of God?  Have you stolen your future from the control of God?  Have you deep-sixed your vision for your church?  Have you diverted God’s resources into a self-serving purpose? 

If you have buried God’s gold beneath the floor of your tent, it’s time to dig it up and bring it back to Him!  It is time to present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.  You are the spoils of God.

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