BIBLE VERSE: "Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads" (Joshua 7:6)
TRUTH: In Old Testament days, a sign of true repentance, shame and sorrow over sin was the "rending" (or ripping) of your upper body clothing and sitting in a pile of ashes, while pouring some over your head. It was a public sign of humility and complete openness of the individual before God that public or private sin needed to be confessed. When Jonah preached to the 100,000 people of Nineveh, they all put on sackcloth (uncomfortable clothing made from black goat's hair), poured ashes over their heads and repented of all their sins corporately and individually. God saved each and everyone of them, from the King of Nineveh (now Mosul, Iraq) to the lowliest person.
This outward sign, in the sight of God, is the ultimate act of owning and accepting personal responsibility for one's actions. We don't go the sackcloth and ashes - or the rending and dust over heads - route these days, but we are still responsible for our own actions. God will hold ALL mankind responsible for any unconfessed sin and unlike the latest psychobabble in modern society, each person who ever lived will give an account, saved or unsaved. There will be none of this before the Judgment Seats of Christ: "my parents did not love me"; "I grew up poor"; "I was hurt by some ungodly pastor" or some such excuse. The best thing we can do to help ourselves from now, is to accept responsibility for every corner of our lives from the seen, to the unseen and be like Joshua in this verse above (Joshua 7:6)
- Joshua tore his clothes: so approach God in with an spirit of surrender and openness to His correction and direction.
- Joshua fell on his face: he approached God in complete reverence and awe as to Whom he was appearing before. We should do likewise.
- Joshua was before the ark: we should go immediately and directly to the Foot of the Cross and camp there until Holy Spirit releases us in complete forgiveness.
- Joshua poured dust on his head: he, and thus we, accepted responsibility, which is the first step to redemption and restoration.