The Sin of Achan
The book of Joshua tells of God fulfilling His promise of giving the Israelites the land of Canaan (Joshua 21:43-45). After the Israelites cross over the Jordan River, the first city they are commanded to take is the city of Jericho. God instructs them to encircle the walls of Jericho for seven days marching around them once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day and the walls would fall down flat (Joshua 6; Hebrews 11:30). The Israelites obeyed God’s commands and the walls fell down. God had instructed the Israelites not to take any spoil from the city of Jericho for themselves (Joshua 6:18-19). The next city the Israelites go against was a smaller city called Ai (Joshua 7:2-3). A smaller force of Israelites is sent to take the city of Ai but they are defeated (Joshua 7:4-5). Joshua wants to know why they were defeated (Joshua 7:6-9). God replies, “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you” (Joshua 7:11-12, NKJV). Achan the son of Carmi of the tribe of Judah had taken some of the spoils of Jericho for himself (Joshua 7:16-23). What are some lessons we can learn from Achan’s sin?
Achan’s sin teaches us about how a person is tempted. Achan eventually will acknowledge his sin and will describe the path which led him to take some of the spoil of Jericho. He said, “When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it” (Joshua 7:21, NKJV). Achan describes how he first saw these articles, then he coveted them, and finally he took them. The same pattern is observed many times throughout Scripture as how a person becomes involved in sin. In the garden of Eden, Eve saw the tree and its fruit, desired its fruit, and then took of the fruit and ate it (Genesis 3:6). When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, he first saw her bathing, inquired about her, and then laid with her (2 Samuel 11:2-4). James 1:13-15 describes how temptation works and it says, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (NKJV). Let’s avoid the path which leads to sin which Achan and many others have taken.
Acahan’s sin demonstrates for us how an individual’s sin impacts others. Joshua 7:1, 11 both speak of the children of Israel having committed a trespass or having sinned and yet not every Israelites had taken the spoil of Jericho only one had done so. Thirty-six Israelites die in the battle attempting to take Ai because of the sin of Achan. However, as long as the nation of Israel had an unrepentant Achan in their midst they all were not pleasing to God. Let us remember God expects His people to deal with sin among themselves and a failure to deal with sin the way God prescribes will result in us being condemned as well (1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Revelation 2:20-23; Ephesians 5:11; Romans 1:32). When Israel dealt with Achan’s sin as God wanted them, then they were able to go up against Ai and be victorious (Joshua 8). When sin is not dealt with among the people of God as it should, it will hinder us from being able to accomplish the task which lies before us. When sin is dealt with properly, it is not a hindrance but a help to the work of God being carried out successfully. Another thing which caught my attention about the impact Achan’s sin had upon others is found in Joshua 7:5. Joshua 7:5 tells about how, “the hearts of the people melted and became like water,” after Israel was defeated by the inhabitants of Ai. Achan’s sin caused the people to be tempted to become discouraged. When one of God’s people today sin, it can often cause discouragement in the lives of others as well. Notice what God does in the beginning of the next chapter. He tells Joshua, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed” (Joshua 8:1, NKJV). Dealing with sin among the people of God can sometimes cause us to become fearful and dismayed and we need to regain our courage and motivation to do God’s will.
Let’s think seriously about these and other lessons we can learn from the sin of Achan.