By Scott Tibbs, November 28, 2007
The story of Achan's sin in Joshua 7 holds several interesting lessons for God's children. It really shows how God's Word can hold a great deal of value for those who study and meditate on it.
After Israel destroyed Jericho, the Israelites were forbidden from taking anything from the fallen city. Achan, however, took "a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight", according to verse 21. A fairly small amount of precious metals was worth quite a bit, but Achan could not use them. He had to bury the silver and gold in his tent for fear someone would find it. Buried and unusable, the silver and gold had no value to Achan. He might as well have stolen lead.
It is interesting how God dealt with Israel corporately, instead of simply striking down Achan as He did with Ananias and Sapphira when they lied to the Holy Spirit. The Bible is full of examples where God deals with people corporately, rather than individually. By dealing with the entire nation of Israel instead of just Achan, it serves as a greater example to all of Israel, both in terms of individual lives and as a warning not to tolerate sin.
Joshua's whining after the men of Ai put the smack down on the Israelites is typical of so much of the whining done by the Israelites as they were on their way to the Promised Land. Oh, it would be better to be slaves in Egypt. After everything God had done for the Israelites, Joshua whined bitterly. Had he forgotten the divine intervention that destroyed the walls of Jericho so recently? God's response was simple: stop whining, get up off the ground, and deal with the sin that has brought judgment upon you.
How many times do we as Christians grumble and complain? God personally came down to earth in the form of Jesus Christ, lived a humble life, and sacrificed Himself for the sins we have committed against Him. What do we have to complain about, especially in the richest, most powerful country on the planet? I know that not being thankful for God's innumerable blessings in my life is a sin I struggle with constantly.
Even with Achan's sin, God did not directly punish Israel. What He did was remove His protection from the people. The Israelites, confident after the big victory at Jericho (and maybe even a little arrogant) decided to send only 3,000 men against Ai, but were routed badly and chased away. God was not with the Israelites because of Achan's sin. This illustrates how completely dependent on God the Israelites were. Similarly, we as Christians are completely dependent on God and can do nothing unless He allows it. What a blessing it is to know that He is in control of all things.