About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 7

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Achan's Sin (ch. 7:1 - 26)

The main character in this chapter concerns a man named Achan.  The name "Achan" means trouble.  He causes Israel lots of trouble.  When it comes to Hebrew names it's somewhat debatable what came first, the name with it's meaning, or, the name became to have a meaning.  For example, "Achan" means "trouble", but at what point did "trouble" become associated with "Achan".  Some say that because of Achan causing "trouble" for Israel, his name became associated with trouble.  Others say that "trouble" was always associated with "Achan". 

Liberal theologians point out the second view in their defense that the Old Testament is a bunch of made up stories.   All the Hebrew names of the Old Testament have meanings that fit the person and the situation they find themselves in.  This is way too much of a coincident to be historical fact, the liberals ay.

A lesson to be learned from this chapter is that when we as Christians have just won a victory, we are weak and capable of falling.  Israel just defeated Jericho, and right after, or even in the process, someone messes up.

Judah's wife was Tammar, seen in Genesis 38.  Tammar had an affair and had babies.  Achan is a product of that adulterous relationship.

In verse 1 we see once again, and I do mean again, the anger of the Lord burning against Israel. If you study Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, you will see over and over again that Israel sins and the Lord's anger burns, and now, after this great miraculous defeat over Jericho, Israel is in trouble with the Lord. Achan took things that he should not have taken when the Lord caused Israel to defeat Jericho.  The Lord gave Joshua, and Israel, specific instructions concerning what they could or couldn't take from Jericho and Achan disobeyed the Lord's command.

It is important to note that the Lord was angry at all of Israel even though one man sinned.  This may not seen fair to many of us, but the holiness of God demands perfection.  If one sins, all sin, in the eyes of God.  If we can understand this, which is hard for many to understand, then we will appreciate what Jesus did on the cross for us more than we ever have before.  All have sinned.  All are unholy.   God's anger towards us is appeased because of what Jesus did for us, that is, only if we accept the provision that Jesus made for us the sacrifice of His life.

In verse 2 we note that Joshua sends two men out again, as he did earlier.  This time the two men were to spy out the land of Ai .  This would be the next battle to fight. Israel would fight seven battles on the west side of the Jordan River .

In verse 3 the two men came back with their report.  Ai would be easy to defeat.  They suggest Joshua only send two or three thousand men.  Joshua listened to the men and did just that.  What should have been an easy victory for Israel became a defeat.  Thirty six Israelis were killed and Israel retreated.  The text states that the Israeli's hearts melted like water.  Just as the people of Jericho melted in fear, this time it was Israel's turn to melt in fear and disgrace. 

We see Joshua's response to this loss in verse 6.  He, and the elders of Israel fell face firs to the ground, tore their clothes, and covered their head with dust.  These are all gestures of remorse, disgust, and sorrow.  Joshua was full of sorrow for their defeat, but as yet, he does not know why they lost this battle.  He himself had done nothing wrong.  I don't believe he knew of Achan's sin. The text makes that clear.  He was simply full of sorrow for the loss.

In verse 7 Joshua expresses the sentiment that his ancestors had throughout their wondering in the desert.  He basically said that it would have been better to stay on the east side of the Jordan is safety than to cross the river and now be defeated by people weaker than Israel. 

In verse 8 Joshua pleads with the Lord as Moses did earlier.  He uses the same approach.  He says that because of this defeat Israel will look bad among the surrounding nations, and worst still, the name of the Lord will look bad among the nations of the world.  Like Moses, Joshua knew how important God's good name is to Him.  As you read and study the Old Testament, you will see over and over again that all that God does for Israel, including their restoration at the end of this age, is not for Israel's sake, but for His name sake.  God will not have His name defamed.  In the end, all nations of the world will know without a doubt that there is one God over all, and that His name is ultimate.

In verse 10 the Lord tells Joshua to stand up.  He even asks why he has fell prostrate.  Of course Joshua was pleading with the Lord and falling prostrate was the normal way to do this.  That being said, falling prostrate in the Old Testament, and really, it should be today, was also an act of true repentance.  Joshua had not done anything personally to repent of.  God is now about to clarify the situation for Joshua.

In verse 11 God says, " Israel has sinned; they have violated the covenant I have given them "  Again, one man sinned, but in the eyes of God, that tarnished all of Israel , and therefore all Israel suffered.  I think the modern church should take serious note of this.  One reason why we don't see the power of God today in the western church is because some of us are sinning.

Notice the word "covenant" in verse 11.  The word "oath" is also used in other verses.  God gave Israel specific instructions to what they could do with the plunder of Jericho.  Israel agreed. God viewed this as a covenant. Achan stepped outside of God's covenant and thus forfeited the protection provided by God.  Breaking covenant is extremely sinful in the eyes of God.  Being faithful to an oath is basic to the very nature of God and He expects the same with us. 

In verse 12 God tells Joshua that He will not be with Israel until the one "devoted to destruction" is done away with.  This is how God feels about sin.  It's serious business with God.  This is why Jesus had to die for us.  There is no way that we can stop sinning.  We are all worthy of death.  The cross of Christ is the only way out for us.  Again, if we really understood how God feels about sin, then we would appreciate what Jesus did for us on the cross more than ever.  Much of the Old Testament teaches us how God feels about sin.  If we neglect the teaching of the Old Testament we will miss this truth and suffer for it.  One major problem in the church today is a laxness we have towards the Bible, and especially the Old Testament.  No wonder the church is not what it should be.  I've said this many times, but we are so far removed from the will of God that we think that we are in His will when we are not.

What we see in verse 13 is extremely important.  God tells Israel that they cannot stand against their enemies until the one who is devoted to evil is removed.  Just one person will cause Israel to fall.  I dare say, that even in this age of grace, the church needs to pay attention to these words.  I have always said that the church is as strong as its weakest member.  That does not make us very strong.

The word consecrate in verse 13 means to "set apart".  Israel must be totally set apart for the Lord and His work.  All Israel must be devoted to the Lord in order for the Lord to be with them, bring victory to them, and protect them.

In verses 14 and 15 God explains to Joshua how He would find who was devoted to evil.  All the tribes would gather.  One by one, each tribe would step forward.  God would choose the tribe with the evil man in.  Then each family in the tribe would step forward.  God would choose the family with the evil man.  Then God would point out the evil man.  He and all of his things must be burned with fire.

The question is always asked, "how did God actually do the choosing"?  Many scholars feel this was done by some kind of lottery system.  We don't know for sure, because the text doesn't say how the tribe and the family was chosen and discovered.  The text only says that the Lord was the one doing the searching and finding.

In verses 16 through 18 Israel did as God commanded.  Achan was discovered to be the culprit.  He was of the tribe of Judah.  He was in the tribe that Jesus was born into.  Jesus ancestors had some pretty sinful people in them.

Verse 19 is interesting.  Joshua tells Achan to give glory and praise to the God of Israel, but the way in which he was to do that was to confess his sin.  Confession of sin and subsequent repentance therefore is one way to give glory and praise to the Lord.  This is something that Evangelical Christians should think seriously about.  Giving praise and thanks to God is more than singing songs on a Sunday morning.

In verses 20 and 21 Achan does as Joshua asks.  He confesses.  He says he sinned, and he tells Joshua what he took from Jericho.  The Babylonian robe would have been a robe used in pagan worship.  Achan went as far as to tell Joshua where he hid the things he was not supposed to have.  Achan did confess his sin, but he still died.  Again, some have trouble with the severity of this punishment, but, once again, God's holiness is beyond our knowing.  It is perfect.

From verse 23 to the end of the chapter some Israelis gathered all the things that Achan took.  They also gathered all of his possessions, including cattle and children.  They stoned Achan and his family and once they all were dead, they burned him, his family, his cattle, and all of his possession.  The sinner was now gone from their midst and God's anger was appeased. 

Again, this is a dreadful thing.  This is hard for many to understand, but this shows us how God hates sin.  And once again, this shows us the importance of the cross of Christ.  Instead of killing more Achans, Jesus died in all of our places.  We no longer have to die.  That being said, if we reject what Jesus did for us, eternal death waits for us, a death that is far worse than physical death.  The Lake of Fire, as seen in the book of Revelation, is that place where those in the lake will always be in the process  of dying but will never die.  How horrible that will be.  


We often see what has been called "family salvation" in the Old Testament.  Here we see the reverse.  Family punishment.  This shows us the importance of the head of the family and how he lives before the Lord.


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