Victory Over Jericho (6:1-27)
Instructions for the attack.
Who has heard of a military strategy like this? March around the city with all of the men of war one time each day for six days. On what day do you think the inhabitants of Jericho started laughing at the Israelites? The city was in fear and were probably terrified on the first and maybe the second day. But at what point did the city find this marching around the city silly? But on the seventh day the men of war were to march around the city seven times while the priests blow the trumpets. When the trumpet blast was prolonged, the people were to shout and the walls were to collapse. The Israelites did exactly as the Lord instructed, the walls fell down, and the people were victorious over the inhabitants of Jericho. Every animal and every person was destroyed except for Rahab and those in her house.
But there was another important command that the Lord had given. Typically, the people enjoy the spoils of victory and plunder the city. But God had given a different command: “But keep yourselves from the things set apart, or you will be set apart for destruction. If you take any of those things, you will set apart the camp of Israel for destruction and bring disaster on it. For all the silver and gold, the articles of bronze and iron, are dedicated to the Lord and must go into the Lord’s treasury” (6:18-19). Carefully notice the command. All of the valuables were to be considered holy to the Lord and dedicated to God. This fits what was taught in the law of Moses about God receiving the firstfruits. If anyone took any of those valuables, Israel would be set apart for destruction and disaster would come upon it.
Loss At Ai (7:1-15)
The story of the conquest continues in chapter 7. The next city to be conquered was the city Ai. Spies are sent into the city of Ai. The spies report that they do not need all of the men of war because there are very few people in the city of Ai. So only 3000 men of war sent to Ai and those 3000 men get whooped. The soldiers are chased out of Ai and the people become fearful. Joshua goes before the ark of the covenant, places his face on the ground, and asks God why this has happened?
The Lord responds that Israel has sinned. “They have taken some of what was set apart. They have stolen, deceived, and put the things with their own belongings. This is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies. They will turn their backs and run from their enemies, because they have been set apart for destruction. I will no longer be with you unless you remove from you what is set apart” (7:11-12). God calls for the people to consecrate themselves and be prepared because the violators are going to be picked out. “The one who is caught with the things set apart must be burned, along with everything he has, because he has violated the Lord’s covenant and committed an outrage in Israel” (7:15).
Achan’s Admission & Victory Over Ai (7:16-8:29)
The Lord weeds down the nation of Israel until he gets to Achan. Joshua urges Achan to tell the truth and to not hide anything. Achan confesses that he took a beautiful Babylonian cloak, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold and hid these articles in the ground inside his tent. Joshua sends messengers to the tent where they found everything Achan had taken. Joshua takes Achan, the silver, the gold, the cloak, the children, his animals, and all he had and brought them to the valley of Achor. There, Israel stoned them to death and burned up their bodies. In chapter 8 we read of Israel’s victory over Ai and the people are allowed to keep for themselves the spoils of victory from Ai. Now that the sin of the people had been dealt with, victory could be achieved through the Lord.
1. The foolishness of trying to conceal sin. The first question that ought to come to our minds when reading this story is: what was Achan thinking? God was very clear about what was to take place. Do not take anything. All of the spoils were to be dedicated to the Lord. In Joshua 7:21 Achan admits the sin was covetousness. God was also clear about the punishment that would come against the person who did take the things which were to be devoted to the Lord. So how could Achan go ahead and steal these articles which were dedicated to God? There is only one obvious answer: he thought he could get away with it. He takes the articles and buries them in the ground inside his tent. Who is going to know? He was sinning in the privacy of his own tent, so what is the big deal?
This is the same rationale that we try to use to justify our own sins. We figure that no one is going to know. What we are doing is in the privacy of our own house. In fact, we have a new moral mantra in our society that who cares what a person does in the privacy of his or her own home. Well, God cares. No one knew that Achan had taken these articles. No one knew that he had taken this beautiful Babylonian cloak. No one knew that he had taken the silver and the gold. But God knew. Why do we think that we can get away with sin? Why do we think that God is not going to know? The problem is greatly increasing. Christians are becoming heavily involved in sexual sins, believing that no one is going to know. A fairly known and respected preacher among our own brethren has admitted to cheating on his wife with a prostitute. The intensity of Satan’s attack with sexual sin and greed is growing. Pornography was a bad enough problem when you had to go to a store to buy it. But now it solicits you through emails. The computer has become a portal to all sorts of wickedness. New popular website like myspace.com and youtube.com are dangerous places for children and adults to spend time without supervision. How do Christians get involved with these sexual sins? How does a preacher get involved with a prostitute? We think we can get away with what we are doing. We think that we will not be found out. We are deluded to think that we can engage in sinful activities and nothing will change in our lives.
In all of this there is something that we forget. We forget that God knows. We forget that the anger of the Lord is kindled against us for our sins. In Joshua 7:1 we read that the anger of the Lord burned against the Israelites.
2. The effect of our sin. Not only do we forget that God knows, but we also forget the far-reaching devastation our sin causes. Let us number off all the effects that we read about in the sin of Achan. (1) Innocent soldiers died in the attack of Ai. Israel believed they had the favor of the Lord and did not know that one person had committed sin that brought the anger of the Lord against them. Because of Achan’s sin, 36 men of war were killed and the rest of the 3000 soldiers had to run for their lives. (2) All of the confidence that Israel had gained in the victory against Jericho was lost because of Achan’s sin. (3) Achan lost his life. Was it worth stealing the things dedicated for the Lord when in a few days later his life would be lost for it? Achan is stoned and burned for his error. (4) The things Achan stole were lost. It was not like Achan was able to leave that gold and silver to his descendants so at least they would be well off. All that Achan had, down to his very tent, were taken to the valley of Achor and burned. Achan lost everything he tried to gain through his sin. (5) Achan lost his family. As difficult as it is for us to deal with, Achan’s family were also destroyed because of Achan’s sin. Achan brought his family into his sins and they had to pay the punishment also. Achan lost it all by making this choice.
Too often we do not calculate the effects of our sin. We think that there are no effects. Yet we do not realize how far-reaching the effects of the sin really are. Allow me to take the sin of the preacher as an example. How much has he lost? He surely thought he could get away with this. He has obviously lost his job. He has lost his wife and family. He has devastated a local church. He has blasphemed the name of the Lord among the lost by his actions to all who knew him and his life as a Christian. He has lost his influence, seeing that he was a regular writer for one of the brotherhood magazines. Consider all the risks he has taken by being with a prostitute. His children and his wife would be humiliated at the least. The point is that we do not see the effect of our sin and how far-reaching it is.
The effect of sexual sin is immeasurable. If you are engaging in sexual immorality either in person, or through computers and magazines, you are destroying yourself and your family and you do not even know it. You think you are getting away with it. You think you are not hurting anyone. But your sin changes the way you act toward your spouse and children. You are destroying yourself emotionally and spiritually and you do not even realize it. And when you are found out, and you will be found out, you will have to stand before God in judgment. You will lose your spouse and your children. You will lose your reputation. You will blaspheme God by your actions. The point is that you do not see what you are doing. What will your children think when you have to explain to them that the family cannot stay together and divorce is happening because you cannot control your lusts and shut the computer off!
Let us also not neglect the sin that Achan commits. He falls into the sins of covetousness and greed. The impact of our greed is also far-reaching. These sins affect us because we are discontent. We cannot find joy in our lives because we cannot rest and enjoy what we already have. Sheryl Crow had a popular song a couple of years ago called “Soak Up The Sun” which had a line which says: “It’s not getting what you want; it’s wanting what you’ve got.” This is an excellent definition of contentment. We will live a miserable life if we engage in covetousness and greed. This affects our family. We will not treat our family properly because we are discontent. Worse, we will inadvertently teach our children to be covetous and greedy, never content with what they have. When we give our children everything they want, they learn to never be happy with what they have. So again, we destroy ourselves and our family by our sins. The sin of lack of contentment is so destructive to having a joyful life. The ability to not be happy with what we have is awful and leads to a miserable life.
You are not getting away with your sins. You will be found out. And while you think you are getting away with it, you are destroying yourself and your family.