Gleanings in Joshua: Achan’s Scales


Grandpa Tony  and Grandma Florence are my heroes. Whenever I could spend time with them I would and whenever they could spend time with me they would. I would spend days at their house, looking back they provided a safety and security I longed for. Their only flaw, in my childhood eyes, was they had a bad habit of smoking. When I would ask them why they wouldn’t quit they would say it isn’t hurting anyone. We know this isn’t true.

My grandparents lived into their mid 70’s, my grandmother passed first, among her various illnesses, one of them was lung cancer and it eventually took her life. Her passing had a profound impact in my life and one thing I learned in my preteen years is that her bad habit of smoking impacted more than just her. The ripple effects of her passing reverberated through my family like a loud boom in a cave.

Sin has that kind of effect in our lives and a great example of this is Joshua 7, where we learn of Achan’s treachery. In Joshua 6 we read of how God brought down the walls of Jericho and the command of the Lord was to destroy everything, except Rahab and those in her household. When Israel was done with Jericho everything appeared to be fine and they were ready to move on to the next battle.

What the Israelites didn’t know is that Achan took for himself some of the devoted things from Jericho and hid him in his tent, buried in the ground. Achan may have been thinking; Taking these things isn’t going to hurt anyone. No one will know. Who is gonna find out? If anyone does find out it will only affect me.

Sin is a sickness that has a profound impact not only on the one committing the act of disobedience but also to his family and the community he is involved with.

Sin Impacts The Community 

When Joshua sent his military strategist to Ai to develop a plan of war, the strategist returned saying they only needed 2-3 thousand men to take Ai. Joshua sends them out to take Ai and instead of the men returning in victory they return defeated by the hands of Ai and in fear.

Joshua tore his clothes and cried out before the Lord, let’s listen in to his cry,

Joshua 7:7-9 (ESV)
7  And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord GOD, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan!
8  O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies!
9  For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?”

Joshua was confused, he knew the promises of God to provide for them the land and victory over his enemies. Joshua is dumb founded, a deer in the headlights not knowing which way to run. Listen to the Lord’s response,

Joshua 7:10-12

10 The LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.

I love the Lord’s response, get  up boy! It reminds me of the moment in Rocky 3 when Apollo Creed is attempting to train Rocky a new style of boxing. But Rocky appears unfocused, confused because of the fear he has of Clubber Lang, his opponent. In Apollo’s frustration he proclaims “what’s the matter with you?” This is God telling Joshua “what’s the matter with you?” Get up, you are in this situation because someone has sinned.

Sin impacts the community and yet many of us like Achan think, who’s it going to hurt?  When the questions we should ask are: How will this hurt my witness for the Lord? Who is going to stumble when they find out I am doing this? Who will doubt the Lord’s work because of my sin? How is this sin going to affect my church?

Achan’s desire for the material wealth of Jericho, his lust for stuff, his disobedience to God’s commands withdrew God’s presence, protection and power from the whole community. When Joshua discovers it was Achan he asks him, why did you bring this trouble on us (Josh. 7:25)?. What trouble is Joshua referring to? The trouble Achan’s sin caused was  36 men of war died by the hands of Ai (Josh. 7:5), the nation was confused and afraid and the Lord withdrew his presence, protection and power from Israel.

Sin Impacts Your Family

Achan’s secret sin comes to light and has tragic effects on his family. Take a look,

And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel…. 24 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor. Joshua 7:15, 24-26

Punishment for disobedience wasn’t new for Achan. He may have been young but he knew why the nation of Israel was wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, because of the unbelief and disobedience of the generation before. It isn’t like the wrath of God caught Achan by surprise, he lived through the warnings and punishments of the generation before him. Achan knew that the sin of one, a few or many can affect the whole group.

Achan knowing all this weighed the pleasures and desires of the lust for more against God’s commands and his wrath and decided the devoted things of Jericho were more glorious, more pleasurable and more satisfying than God. As a result, Achan’s lust for stuff, for material positions, for the idea of more, costed not only his life but the lives of his family. The impact of sin on his family was tragic.

Before we cast our stones upon Achan, let’s take a moment to examine our own hearts. How often do we choose to sin without thinking of the consequences it will have on our family? Which sin/sins captivate our hearts enough to bring out Achan’s measuring scale? Is it pornography, outburst of anger, sex, gossip, excessive spending?

We all have Achan moments, when we weigh the pleasures of sin and compare them to an ever satisfying glorious God and still choose to sin. Our families have had to deal with those decisions and the consequences they bring, just like Achan’s family. Your sin impacts your family.

The Lord Turns From His Burning Anger

It would be depressing to end this blog without talking about grace. On the cross, Christ absorbed the wrath of God for our sins (1 John 2:1). He paid the ultimate price, a sinless divine saviour for sinful man so that we can be made right with God (2 Cor. 5:21).In Christ we are forgiven and declared not guilty. When we turn to Christ, repent, believe and confess him as Lord, God’s wrath is turned away from us.

Does that mean we should sin more? Everytime I hear a question like that I reminded how truly sick our hearts are, after recieving a gift so glorious we would want to sin more not less.

Suppose you come home and just explode in a fit of rage on your spouse. You know you’re wrong, she knows you’re wrong and when you realize it you apologize and ask for forgiveness and your spouse forgives you. Does her forgiveness mean you can explode in fits of rage more often? Of course not! Her forgiveness means you should attempt to never do it again. How much more so with the Lord?

If God has forgiven our sin, and his wrath and anger our turned away, does that mean when we sin as believers there are no consequences? A great question and one I will tackle next week.

Until Next Time

Put the scales away and be satisfied by Christ


One thought on “Gleanings in Joshua: Achan’s Scales

  1. Pingback: If God has forgiven our sin, does that mean when we sin as believers there are no consequences? – Intersections

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