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Let God rule: Achan and Joshua

Scripture: Joshua 7:1-26; 8:22-35

Golden Text: “Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal. And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel” (Joshua 8:30, 32).

In a recent lesson we studied Achan and his sin of taking money and clothing from Jericho when Israel was destroying the city.

Here we see further instruction concerning Achan’s sin in Jericho, and its results.

I. Israel’s army was defeated at Ai, a military outpost for the Canaanites (Joshua 7:2-5). After conquering Jericho, Joshua sent a group of soldiers to take Ai. Israel’s defeat was decisive. The soldiers at Ai killed 36 men. Israel, the leaders, the soldiers were shocked, as was Joshua! The Israelites quickly retreated to Jericho.

II. Joshua and Israel were confused and could not understand the defeat (Joshua 7:6-12). Joshua immediately bowed before Jehovah in prayer (vs. 6). He complained to God that He had brought them into the land only to destroy them (vs. 7). He complained that all the Canaanites who heard would be emboldened against Israel (vs. 8-9). His concern was that the enemy would not be afraid of Israel nor her God.

The Lord instructed Joshua as to the problem (vs. 10-12). Someone in Israel had sinned against God regarding Jericho and the materials of the city (vs. 11). They had taken things that were dedicated to God for destruction. They were guilty of stealing. They were guilty of breaking the unity of Israel for personal satisfaction. They had hidden the items among their own goods as though they belonged to them (vs. 11). Jehovah declared that the sin was the problem, and that it had to be dealt with before Israel could be blessed (vs. 12).

What a wonderful lesson for us to learn today, if we only will. Disobedience to God and His will for us will remove His blessings from our lives. Only as we confess our sins in repentance before Him will we be able to receive the blessing He wants to give. Could that be one of your problems today? Could it be that we have sinned and need to bring the sins to God?

III. Joshua is instructed to find the person guilty of the sin and punish him (Joshua 7:13-26). First, all the people were to be sanctified (set apart—personal consecration) in order that the sinful person could be revealed.

Second, individual tribes were brought before Joshua in order to find the guilty person. This process produced Achan, a member of the tribe of Judah (vs. 17-18).

Third, Joshua instructed Achan to confess his sin before God and the people (vs. 19). Achan confessed that he had taken the garments, gold and silver (vs. 20-21).

Fourth, Joshua sent for the items which were brought to him (vs. 22-23).

Fifth, Joshua pronounced judgment upon Achan. He and all his family and goods were brought. The individuals were stoned and the goods were burned (vs. 24-26). What a powerful lesson to the people that Jehovah would not allow their sins to go unpunished, nor give His blessing when sin was in the camp. The same principle is true today. We should heed the lesson!

IV. Having dealt with the sin, Jehovah gave victory to Israel at Ai (Joshua 8:22-25). Israel returned to Ai, defeated and burned it. They went on to mount Ebal and Gerizim where a copy of the Law was engraved on stones (8:30-35). The Law of God was planted in the land of Palestine in about the center of the land itself. This was to remind the people always that they were under the leadership of Jehovah God, and His laws were to govern the people and the nation. The beginnings of the nation of Israel were begun by victory, consecration, success and testimony of God. Israel was positioned to be successful in Palestine.

When rightly related to God, we will be successful.

Howard Tillery is the pastor of New Ochlocknee Baptist Church in Grady County. He lives in Cairo.