When Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land and they were defeating the cities in the area - clearing out the neighborhood so that Israel wouldn't be corrupted by the inhabitants - they first went to Jericho. God specifically told them not to take ANYTHING from Jericho. They were supposed to burn the whole place down and take nothing for themselves.
One man didn't listen. He took silver and gold and a cloak, and Israel paid for his mistake. When they went against the next city, Ai, they were ran off and they lost 36 of their men. When the sneaky man with the loot from Jericho was found out, his family paid - the whole family and everything that belonged to the man was destroyed. Harsh.
Once he was gone, God led them to defeat Ai.
And then something weird happened. God told them that they could take the livestock and the spoil of the city as plunder.
They were forbidden from taking from Jericho, but invited to take from Ai.
A bible scholar, or a historian, or maybe even someone who paid more attention while reading the story might be able to tell you what the difference was between the two cities. They might understand why taking from Jericho was dangerous and taking from Ai was okay.
But really, it doesn't matter for me right now. I needed to see this story in a new light. I needed to see how sometimes God asks you to give something up - to pass by silver and gold and fancy clothes. Sometimes He says "Give that up" or "Pass that by" or "Let that go" with no explanation - no promise of something specific He would give in return. He doesn't say "Destroy everything in Jericho, I'll let you take what you want from Ai," He just says, "Destroy everything in Jericho."
Mrs. Bible scholar/Historian/Person who pays more attention might correct me, but I'm thinking the plunder from Ai was even better. I bet that if they had known what they were about to receive, passing by Jericho would have been a breeze. But they didn't know. What they did know is this: God was taking pretty good care of them. These are the people who ate manna in the desert and quail when they whined about the boring manna, they saw Joshua part the Jordan, they had JUST seen the walls of Jericho fall because they walked around it and made some noise. They knew God is awesome. They knew God can do anything. But that one guy just could not trust that God had something better, so he slipped some trinkets and a jacket into his coat.
I just passed by something. I lingered beside it knowing God was saying no. I attempted a negotiation - "I won't take the whole thing God, how about this little piece of gold, maybe the silver, and how about this coat - I'll never find another one like this - maybe just the coat Lord?" But I had my marching orders - don't take anything.
So I didn't.
And that's pretty scary. But I have my own stories of manna and quail and parting waters and thick walls falling. He is trustworthy. All of the time. And if He says to leave the coat and Jewels in Jericho, I'm leaving them.
I'm leaving them, and I'm waiting for Ai.