Achan’s sin-no hope for him or me?

There is a misperception among readers of this story that Israel – all of Israel – was living righteously at this point. No. The time had come for God to complete His promise and fulfill His plan for His people. However, there were specific directions about not touching the “accursed thing.”

“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.” Jos 6:18 KJV

Joshua 7:1 clarified these directions and the sin. “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.” So what? Apparently, Joshua was not aware of this sin. If he had known that Achan had sinned he would not have made the following decision.

And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. (Verses 2-4.)

I have seen where writers have claimed that Joshua was being presumptuous here. I am going to say that he felt right with God. He believed that God would deliver them to a few men. They did not need an entire army of men. However, due to one man’s sin others died>

And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.

Now because of our modern sense of social justice, we may be thinking that God was unfair. No! He made it clear that he did not want the idols or anything from the Canaanites to enter the camp of the Israelites. The idolatry and debauchery of that society would to similar to allowing a witch to stand in the middle of a church service and carry out their priestess duties. Or us erecting a statue of a religious leader and bowing down to it in church. What did Joshua do?

And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!  For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

Do you see his absolute faith in his people’s willingness to obey YHWH? He cannot conceive that anyone would dare to disobey this commandment from YHWH?  These are the children of the parents who refused to go forward in faith when they were told to take the land. These children saw their parents die in the wilderness because of sin!

YHWH’s response was – paraphrased “Why are you whining? Who is at fault? Certainly not me? Is it not obvious that sin lies in the camp? Obviously, someone took of the accursed thing! They are reaping what they have sown.  Furthermore, “because the apparently think they know better than I do they could not stand before their enemies, and I will NOT be fighting your battles for you until you remove and destroy “the accursed” from among you! Can you imagine the hue and cry on social media? The news media would be calling the God of the Israelite a vengeful, cruel God. He should be banned from all public places. The people should turn their backs on Him and join some other religion after all – all religions are equal are they not? But, Joshua, believe in YHWH and followed His directions for sanctification.

 In Joshua 7:14-15 the narrative continues “In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the Lord taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the Lord shall take shall come by households; and the household which the Lord shall take shall come man by man. And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.”

A spirit led leader acts decisively.

“So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. “(Verses 16-19.)

Now, one could plead a case for Achan and state “For crying out loud it was just a little thing!’ But Achan acknowledged his sin. He didn’t whine. He didn’t tweet a different version. He did call the ACLU to please his First Amendment Rights.

20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: 21 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, [the acursed things] then I coveted them, [Thou shall not covet the last commandment.] and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

A spirit led leader executes judgment as led by The Lord!

So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.  And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the Lord. And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.  And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.

One man sinned and thousands died because of his sin. Judgment was executed speedily and the price was paid for the sin. Take this story and apply it to any situation that we see in the news media today and consider how you and or I may be impacted by one man’s sin.  Let’s take it just another step further. How am I impacting my brothers and sisters in Christ when I enter the worship center on Sunday mornings or Saturday evenings with sin in my heart? Does it hinder the Spirit of God from moving among us mightily? I say yes! But in 1 Corinthians 5:6 Paul makes it even clearer

“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” A little sins affects everyone. Read the entire chapter!

Achan’s sin was egregious, but so is hate. So is the refusal to forgive. So is spreading dissension among the brethren. So is the refusal to grow closer to God and learn to love ALL people better regardless of their ethnicity! So is determining that a relationship is so putrid that you cannot stand to look at the person anymore. Well, their behavior may be putrid, but we can never rule out loving a person even if they hate us. That is sin and sin affects the entire body of Christ. Where are you seeing the end result of sin on relationships? How can you help to bring about that change if it is affecting you? You cannot change a person’s behavior, but you can change how you respond to it! Keeping our hearts and minds clear of sin helps us to grow closer to God. Growing closer to God engenders us to love all people better – regardless of the social and political climate! If you would like us to help you with any relational challenges that you have because of another person’s sin against you – just Contact Us.

May God grant you the forgiveness that you seek as you forgive others who have sinned against you. Achan sinned against the nation of Israel. You are redeemed! You are not Achan. Claim your redemption!


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