GOD’S PRESCRIPTION FOR AN ACHAN HEART Joshua 7:1-26
Israel has just been involved in the greatest military conquest in their history. They have just witnessed the tremendous defeat of the city of Jericho and they are still basking in the glow of that great event. But, verse 1 tells us that God was upset with the people. Israel thought that everything was all right. They thought that they were standing on the edge of a great string of victories that would see them conquering the entire land of promise. Yet, what they didn’t know was that there was a problem in the camp. There was one in their midst who was causing a problem for the entire family of God.
May I say that things are still the same today? Folk, we are all members of one body, 1 Cor. 12:27. According to the Bible, 1 Cor. 12:26, when one member of the body has problems, the entire body has problems. You see, your spiritual temperature has a deep effect on the entire body of Christ. You are not an island unto your self. What you do effects the entire church body. We will see this truth illustrated in this passage this morning.
Sin causes problems, it causes them for the sinner and for everyone else around them. The fact is, most of us are guilty of being like Achan from time to time. When we allow sin into our lives and when we try to hide our sins and try to cover it up, we bring pain and trouble into our lives. Yes, we are all Achans from time to time, and when we are, our sins causes aching in our lives. However, these verses tell us that God has a prescription for an Achan heart.
I. V. 2-5 A PAINFUL DEFEAT
A. V. 2-3 Israel Was A Confident People – Israel was still basking in the glow of their victory at Jericho and they looked at Ai and felt like that little town would be no problem for such a great army. Israel was a confident people, but a closer look reveals that their confidence was misplaced. In verse 3, they feel like that just a few of the soldiers are needed to secure a victory in little Ai. These people are guilty of resting on their laurels.
Israel did not realize it, but they were living through one of the most dangerous times of life. You see, the time just after a great spiritual victory is a dangerous time. Often, like Israel, we will be over confident and believe that we can handle any battle that comes our way, Pro. 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” When we believe like that, then is usually when we suffer our greatest defeats.
Now, don’t misunderstand, confidence is a good thing as long as one’s confidence is in the right place. When we are walking with our hope and our confidence in the Lord, we will win the victory, but when we are walking with our confidence in the power of our ability and in our flesh, then we are destined to fail!
Romans 8:5 “ For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
B. V. 4-5a Israel Was A Conquered People – When Israel went up to Ai in they suffered a terrible defeat and 36 of their number were killed. This must have been very devastating to the Israelites. However, when one takes the time to look more closely at their actions, it is easy to see that they made several mistakes. Mistakes that, many of us maybe guilty of making as well.
1. Nowhere in this passage does it even hint that Joshua and the people of Israel sought the will of God for dealing with Ai. They didn’t even pray about the matter. If they had, God would have revealed the problem before people died.
How many times are we guilty of jumping ahead of the Lord and His will? We will rush headlong into life and trust the Lord to bail us out of the messes in which we find ourselves. It is far better to consult God before we make the mistake than it is to expect Him to clean up our messes afterwards. James 4:2 ”….ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”
2. They didn’t take the Ark of the Covenant into the battle. The Ark symbolized the presence and power of God. They went into the battle in their own strength and they failed!
Again, here is an area where we could all use help. We try to live the Christian life, fight the flesh and the devil in our own power and we fail time after time. The reason? We do not take the time to strengthen our walk with God! When we are walking with the Lord and in His Word as we should be, He will go with us into the battle and face our enemies on our behalf. Who killed the giant, David or God? David himself holds the answer to that question:
1 Sam. 17:47 “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” One person’s victory effects the whole church, just as one defeat.
3. Israel had their confidence in their own power and not in the Lord. They were not walking by faith, but they were guilty of trusting what they could do.
How many times have we suffered defeat at the hands of our enemy because we too believed we were able and that we could get the job done. Well, the bottom line is this: I can’t do the job and neither can you! We all need the Lord is we are to walk in spiritual victory in our lives, Phil. 4:13;
John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
C. V. 5b Israel Was A Confounded People – After their terrible defeat at the hands of Ai, the people of Israel are feeling the same fear that their enemies experienced, Josh. 2:9; 5:1; 6:1. You see, this is one of the problems with sin. It defeats you and leaves you feeling just like a lost man. Nothing is right in the life of a believer while there is sin in his midst! Have you every had a time like this in your spiritual life? I have and most of the time, they result from those times when I have left God out of the picture in my life.
Israel didn’t know at this point what was wrong. All they knew was that they had just suffered their first defeat. Thankfully, God wants His people to have the victory, not the defeat. So, He takes the necessary steps to reveal to the nation of Israel just exactly where the problem lies.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
I. A Painful Defeat
II. V. 6-15 A PAINFUL DISCOVERY
A. V. 6-9 Joshua Reacts In Prayer – After the tragedy happens, Joshua finds himself before the Lord in prayer. His prayer is from a broken heart, v. 6. However, there is also a hint of anger and accusation against the Lord. Joshua is going to learn that prayer is the correct recourse in a time of trouble, but that prayer will avail nothing until sin has been dealt with, Ps. 66:18 “ If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:”
Joshua wonders why Israel was powerless in the battle, the answer wasn’t to blame God, or to dispute His will. The answer was in their own camp!
After we have made decisions that brought with them terrible consequences, it’s too late to play the blame game. Also, it is never the right time to accuse God of anything. When there is a tragedy in our lives, we need to look within and see where the problem is. You see, when there is a lack of power in my life, the problem is not with God, nor is it with others, the problem is always with me! The same is true in the church. When there is defeat in the church and souls aren’t being saved and the services are dull and lifeless, we need not blame the Lord! He is doing His part. The problem is always a problem within!
B. V. 10-15 God Rehearses The Problem – While Joshua and Israel try to figure out what is happening, God in Heaven already knows and tells Joshua all about it. He tells him that there is sin in the camp of Israel! He tells Joshua that it is this sin that is hindering His power and it is what is bringing about their defeat. He tells Joshua how to discover the guilty party. In these words to Joshua, God gives us some insights into sin, of which we need to take note. Allow me to share with you these seven observations concerning sin and its effects in our lives.
1. God knows about our sins – v. 11
Pro. 15:3 “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”
2. God hates our sins – v. 11 Pro. 6:16 “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:”
3. God has a plan for our sins – v. 14-15 – (1 John 1:9) He wants us to acknowledge your sin is against Him.
4. God will punish our sins – v. 15 – Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death.”
5. Sin affects those around us – v. 11-12 – We cannot sin in a vacuum, our sins have the ability to drastically lower the spiritual temperature of the church. We are all one body and what effects you effects me!
Romans 5:12 “ Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
6. Sin hinders God’s work – v. 12 – Matt. 13:58 “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
7. Sin must be dealt with – v. 13 – Either you and I will deal with our sins, or God will deal with them. Either way, they will be handled! – 1 Cor. 11:31 “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
Often, the greatest problems faced by the church come from within and not from without. You see, it’s not the water on the outside of the boat that causes the problem, it’s the water on the inside of the boat that causes trouble! The same is true for the church. The world and the devil really can’t do a lot of damage to the church, but you lat someone inside the church get out of line and there is a problem! More often than not, when there are defeats and trouble down at the house of God, you can bet that there is someone in the church who is out of God’s will!
Proverbs 28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
I. A Painful Defeat
II. A Painful Discovery
III. V. 16-26 A PAINFUL DEATH
In these verses, the wages of sin are put on clear display for all to see, Rom. 6:23.
A. V. 16-18 The Sinner Discovered – The process that God used to point out Achan. God knew who was guilty, why didn’t He just tell Joshua who they were looking for? In my opinion, He was giving Achan time to repent and to confess his sins. Be that as it may, the finger of God was getting closer and closer and finally landed on Achan.
The lesson for us needs to be learned well! God already knows your sins and His finger is getting closer and closer to your life. One day, He will point out those things in your life that need to be revealed! It is only a matter of time sir, Ma’am, young person until the finger of God lands on your life and you are exposed in your sins! It will not and cannot be hidden forever! One day, “your sin will find you out” – Numbers 32:23
Luke 12:3 ”Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” You may try, but you cannot hide your sin!
B. V. 19-21 The Sin Discussed – Now that the sin is out in the open it has to be dealt with. Notice the two aspects of this section.
1. V. 19 The Compassion – When Joshua speaks to Achan, he speaks with love in his heart. He knows that Achan is condemned, but Joshua still cares for this man who brought so much trouble to Israel.
In this, Joshua is a picture of God. While God hates sin with His entire being, He still loves the sinner, John 3:16. Even though man is the enemy of God, God still wants man to repent and to come to Him for salvation, 2 Pet. 3:9.
2. V. 20-21 The Confession – In these two verses, Achan finally confesses his sin. However, don’t believe for a second that Achan repented! He, like some others in the Bible, only confessed his sins after he got caught in them. At this point, it would have been impossible to hide them any longer anyway. ( Achan is like other men in the Bible who confessed their sins, but not in real repentance – Pharaoh, Balaam, Judas.)
Note the progression in Achan’s sin, v. 21. “I saw…I coveted…I took.” This is the same pattern that sin always follows. It was this way in the Garden of Eden, Gen. 3:1-6. It was this way when David sinned with Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:1-4. It is and will be this way in nearly any instance of sin you can name. Notice the progression that the Bible speaks of in James – James 1:13-15. You see it and it appeals to your flesh, you want it and you take it. Sin is always the same! Ill. Our reaction to sin should be just like that of Joseph, Gen. 39:12. We are commanded to flee youthful lusts, 2 Tim. 2:22.
Another problem that Achan had is found in v. 21. Achan calls the things he took “spoils”. This word refers to the booty that a conquering army can claim after a victory. However, these things were no spoils. God said in 6:18-19 that these things were His. They were not to be gifts for Israel, they were to be placed in the treasury of the Lord’s house. In essence, Achan was guilty of stealing from the Lord.
Achan had things buried in his tent that he could not use! To use them would be to reveal his character to the entire nation of Israel. In other words, Achan sinned and died for nothing! The things he stole were no good to him at all!
C. V. 22-26 The Sinner Destroyed – These verses give us the sad conclusion to this tragic tale. Achan and all that he had were taken out and stones to death by the people of Israel. It didn’t have to end this way! However, these verses demonstrate the horrible end that all sinners who refuse to repent. The name of the valley is called “Achor”. This word means trouble. If you are going to sin, you need to know that you are headed for trouble,
Pro. 13:15 “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.”
Years later, the prophet Hosea mentioned this same valley. He said, “And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” Hosea 2:15
The promise is that this place of trouble could become a door of hope. The same is true concerning our sins.