MONDAY, DECEMBER 31
SCRIPTURE: Joshua 7
Author: Joe Ligon
Success can be a dangerous thing. Succeeding at something very significant can often cause us to overestimate our skill set and our role in the success. When we think more of ourselves than we ought to think, we set ourselves up for failure.
In many ways that is what happens in this chapter. The nation of Israel was fresh off of a huge victory at Jericho. Their next obstacle was a relatively little place called Ai. Joshua sent some men in to scout out the enemy. Their report was that no more than 3,000 men were needed to take care of Ai. Since you have read the chapter, you know that little Ai sent that Hebrew army running back to Joshua.
The nation of Israel and even their leader, Joshua, were shocked. In verse 8, Joshua is worried about their reputation. What is everyone going to say now that the Hebrew army turned a fled? In verse 9, Joshua is worried about their safety. What would keep all the Canaanites from being emboldened by this and gang up on Israel? And at the end of verse 9, Joshua is worried about God’s reputation. What about your great name, God?
In verse 10, God was pretty short. He says, “Get up.” The failure at Ai was not God’s fault. It was the result of sin in the camp. Because God hates sin so much, He cannot tolerate even a little bit of it. In this case He could not tolerate the fact that just one man sinned out of all of the thousands of other men in the Hebrew army. Sin had to be dealt with.
God gave Joshua a rather elaborate plan to identify the culprit. Since God already knew who was guilty, why didn’t He just give Joshua the name? There are a couple of possible reasons. Perhaps it was to impress upon the entire nation the seriousness of what had happened. The process undoubtedly gave them a lot of time to think. The other possibility is maybe God was giving Achan a chance to confess and repent.
As the process narrowed to identify the guilty man, it is important to notice that Achan did indeed confess. But he never repented. He admitted what he did but he never expressed sorrow that he did it. It is one thing to admit that you have sinned. It is another thing altogether for that sin to break your heart.
The result of Achan’s sin was Achan’s death. The wages of sin is death. Always. And Achan would be executed for his sin. But so were his children. And that causes us to stop and wonder. I want you to notice that Achan’s wife is not mentioned. Perhaps she was dead or perhaps she was not complicit in what was going on. But his children are mentioned and are executed along with their dad.
There are a couple of things to consider here. One, we must never doubt that our sin does not just affect us. Our sin affects a lot of different people sometimes for a long time. Two, Deuteronomy 24:16 says children are not to be executed for their father’s sins. So, we must assume those kids were complicit in their dad’s sin. They were guilty of sin as well. And the wages of sin is death. Always.
One last thing I want to leave you with. The Israelites covered Achan’s body with a great pile of stones. This is the second pile of stones that Israel had left in the Promised Land. The first one was a memorial to future generations about the miracle God performed as the nation crossed the flooded Jordan River on dry ground. The second pile of stones was a stark reminder of God’s response to sin. One pile was to mark a great victory. The second pile was to provide a great reminder. We need to remember both.