-The sin of Achan is explained in this chapter with foreshadowing to a continuing problem in the nation of Israel. Achan, one of the sons of Israel from the tribe of Judah, caused the anger of the LORD to burn against His people because he acted unfaithfully in regard to taking things under the ban with a covetous spirit (Joshua 7:1, 21). The sin was found out due to a significant early failure in the campaign to take the Holy Land. Joshua had sent men from Jericho to Ai, which was near Beth-aven and east of Bethel, where the patriarchs had worshipped God and had incredible interactions with the Almighty (Genesis 12:7-8; 28:11-19; 35:9-15). These men went up to spy out the land and gain some reconnaissance of the area. They surmised that it would only take 2 to 3 thousand men to take this strategic area of the land. Therefore, Joshua sent only that amount, but they had to flee from the men of Ai. 36 of their men were struck down, and the sons of Israel were pursued from the gate of the city as far as Shebarim. This made the hearts of the people melt and they became exceedingly fearful. Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth upon hearing the news. He set his face before the Ark of the LORD until evening along with the elders of the people. They put dust on their heads in a symbolic display of sorrow and repentance, though they knew not what they had done yet. Joshua beseeched the LORD for answers and argued with Him over bringing them into this land if they were only to be delivered over to the enemy for destruction. He pleaded that they would have been content to stay beyond the Jordan. He simply could not understand why God had allowed this to happen. Turning their backs on the enemy would surely be reported to others in the land of Canaan along with the other inhabitants of the land. The reputation of the sons of Israel had been severely tainted, and Joshua feared being surrounded and cut off with total annihilation the result. This would destroy the LORD’s great Name from the earth. All of this was nonsense of course, but Joshua was in a desperate state as we can easily deduct from the text (Joshua 7:2-9).
-Now the LORD replied, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst.” God went on to tell Joshua to “Rise up!” and “Consecrate” the people before Him and find out who had performed the transgression. When found, they were to be burned with fire in totality with the family and all their belongings, “because he transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has committed a disgraceful thing in Israel.” They would select the tribe by lot under the guidance of the LORD. That tribe would come near by families, and the LORD would point out the guilty from among them as they investigated down to the exact person. Achan was eventually discovered, and he did confess the crime before the LORD. He had seen (didn’t check his sin at the eye gate) some spoil that he wanted in his heart (where the true sin was committed), “a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight.” He coveted them and took them even though he knew full well the ban that the LORD had placed on His people as they invaded. This was not a hording band of marauders, it was a conquest of covenant promise, and God would not be mocked by this outlandish act. Achan had concealed his spoil in the earth inside his tent. Joshua sent messengers to the tent, and they discovered the items there just as Achan had related. They returned the items and poured them out before the LORD God. Then Joshua and all of Israel in unison with him took the crook and all his banned spoil along with all of his sons, his daughters, his animals, his tent, and all that belonged to him to the valley of Achor (trouble). All Israel stoned them there with stones and burned them afterwards. The LORD troubled them because they troubled Israel. A great heap of stones was raised up over his carcass that stood until the day of the writing of this historical text, “and the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger (Joshua 7:10-26).”
-*Application* We see what a terrible thing it is to covet from this text. God wants us to be completely satisfied with what He allows and bestows upon us as His creation. Wanting something that tempts us, as this idol certainly would do, brings down the serious wrath of God. In our society, we have lost that cognizance (awareness, understanding, knowledge, or perception) of His character. In other words, due to our own successes (which are actually God’s good graces), we have lost the fear of the LORD. God sees and hears everything. Nothing is hidden from Him. Sometimes He is patient with us, but when it’s really serious (like the matter of taking control of the Holy Land), He has every right to correct the situation with power and anger. What do you think His second coming is going to look like? It will be a day of wrath and vengeance with much bloodshed as we can read about in the Scriptures. Check It and see (Isaiah 13:6-13, Amos 5:18-20, Obadiah 1:15, Zephaniah 1:7-18, Malachi 4:5, Acts 2:20, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 19:11-20:3). Let us learn to fear only Him and keep His covenant of grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:26-31). “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the Hands of the Living God.”
Verse to Memorize: Joshua 7:1