THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN
Lord, impress on us the consequences of our sin.
Read JOSHUA 7:10–26
10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.
14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. 15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’”
16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen.
19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”
20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia,[a] two hundred shekels[b] of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels,[c] I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord.
24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”
Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor[d] ever since.
a. Joshua 7:21 Hebrew Shinar
b. Joshua 7:21 That is, about 5 pounds or about 2.3 kilograms
c. Joshua 7:21 That is, about 1 1/4 pounds or about 575 grams
d. Joshua 7:26 Achor means trouble.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross … “by His wounds you have been healed”’ (1 Pet 2:24).
It is striking that God’s explanation of the problem is expressed not in terms of Achan’s theft, deceit, and selfishness, but as Israel having sinned and violated the covenant. One man’s sin is deemed the sin of the community. Achan’s sin is taking for himself some of the spoils of war which should have been dealt with according to God’s instructions. Achan’s confession, ‘I saw … I coveted … and took’ (21) recalls the process of Eve’s sin (Gen 3:6). The manner in which Achan is identified involves the whole community and the method of execution requires the participation of the community. To conclude that Achan’s family dies with him is the most obvious reading of verse 25, but some commentators suggest that ‘the rest’ and ‘them’ could refer to Achan’s possessions (J Gray, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1986; New Bible Commentary, 1970). The reference to ‘sons and daughters’ (24) but not to a wife is puzzling.
A key promise in Joshua is God’s presence with His people (Josh 1:5, 17; 3:7, 10), so the threat that God would no longer be with His people because of their sin must have been very frightening. In His love and mercy, God gave them a way back into fellowship with Him.
What are we to make of this incident, as 21st-century Christians? We may struggle with the severity of the punishment and with the attribution of guilt to the whole community. David Jackman comments: ‘The details are horrifying to us on a purely human level but they should be felt much more acutely as a spiritual warning. We dare not make God in our own image or downplay his holiness’ (Jackman, p85). As we reflect on this passage, are we in danger of seeing the breaking of God’s covenant as no big deal, believing ‘God will forgive; that’s his job’ (Attr. H. Heine)? We need to remember that our sin took Jesus to the cross.
Ask God to help us see sin as He sees it and to not trivialize it. Reflect on how Jesus restores our fellowship with God.
Lord, teach me that my sin can affect those associated with me, either in my family or my church.
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