Focal Passages: Joshua 7
Imagine you were in the Israeli camp when Jericho had been defeated. A city thought to be invincible had been conquered not by a military strategy, but by God’s plan. There was celebrating and rejoicing, but then they rested from the mighty battle. As they slept, Achan tossed and turned thinking about all the silver, gold and other spoils from battle that just laid out there in the city.
He left his tent and snuck out of the Israeli camp. He crossed the fallen walls of Jericho and into the city’s marketplace. He gathered some of the things that Joshua had said would be consecrated unto the Lord (6:19). He hurried back to his tent and closed the flap tightly so no one could see him as he buried his treasures.
When Israel went out to battle to conquer the tiny city of Ai, they’re soundly defeated. It was because of a private, not public, sin in the camp. It was a subtle and secret sin. However, sin always brings defeat. Achan’s sin of taking things that belonged to God brought defeat to the entire army of Israel.
As a Christian, your life doesn’t belong to you (I Corinthians 6:19). Your time, talents and tithe belong to God. You were bought with a price. You can appear holy and righteous, but not be fully devoted to Christ. If you neglect prayer and the study of God’s Word, you will experience defeat. You can go to church and give some money, but still be guilty of the kind of sin Achan committed.
Achan’s sin also hindered the prayers of the people (Psalm 66:18). Following their defeat, Joshua and the elders from the tribes held a meeting, heaping dust upon themselves and crying out to God. Their humility turned into haughtiness as they blamed God for their defeat. God quickly told Joshua that the only prayers He would hear from them were prayers of confession and repentance.
Sin hurts the nation. God holds Christians accountable for the fate of a nation (Proverbs 14:34). Our nation might honor God and worship Him if Christians loved the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. We might have a godly nation if the church had continually been launching pads for evangelism, lovers of God’s Word and lighthouses in their community.
Sin hurts the church. Church members may never know how little you care that people are lost, how you don’t pray very often, how you rarely ever read your Bible outside of being in a service or how you don’t tithe. However, the spiritual victory that God wants the church to have is hindered because of your sin.
Sin hurts your family. They may not know of your sin, but one day it will be revealed (Luke 8:17) and can damage and even destroy those that you love the most (Proverbs 28:13).
Achan’s confession (vv. 20-21) reveals the four steps that led to Israel’s defeat. He saw. He coveted. He took. He hid. Despite his confession, the punishment administered by Israel is a graphic reminder that the wages of sin is death. Is there secret sin in your life today? If you uncover your sin before God, He will be gracious and loving to cover it with the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ (I John 1:9).
“The secret sins I try to hide
In my spirit do abide
Hidden not from God above
As He looks at me with eyes of love
He gently shows me the way
Until I choose to Him obey
Then He holds me in forgiveness close
The One who loves me the most” (Taken from “Secret Sins”, a poem by Debbie Preuss).
— Lancaster is senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Rockwood.