Okay – if you haven’t been reading along, let me give you the cliff notes version. Joshua just got finished leading the children of Israel to victory over Jericho. God gave specific instructions to destroy the city and everything in it. He warned the people not to take anything for themselves, as was sometimes the custom (to the victor go the spoils). In the beginning of this chapter, we read of this man named Achan (btw, means “He that troubleth”) who secretly took a beautiful robe imported from Babylon, two hundred silver coins, and a bar of gold that weighed more than a pound. Achan buried them under his tent, thinking that no one would ever know.
God knew – and because of this disobedience, He removed his blessing from the armies as they went to fight against the city of Ai. This was a small town and should have been an easy victory for the army of Israel, so they sent only 3,000 troops. As a result, Israel was defeated and lost 36 men as they were fleeing down the hillside.
Imagine the shock of the army and the leaders. They must have been very confused. They had seen God’s blessing on them and their confidence in Him was building day by day. Suddenly, they are bested by the puny city they should have easily defeated. Where is God? Why has He abandoned us? Why did God bring us this far only to allow us to be slaughtered here?
The Bible says “their courage melted away.” (verse 5)
Just look what a simple act of disobedience caused. God was very serious when he warned them not to take anything for themselves. As a result of a “harmless” act of selfishness, 36 men died and the courage of the entire army of Isarel was shaken. The price of this disobedience was great to Achan, too. Achan paid with his life, along with the life of his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, and sheep. Even his tent, and everything he had were destroyed.
Only then God’s blessing returned. “So the LORD was no longer angry.” (verse 26)
I have to be honest. I was a bit surprised that people had to die because of one man’s hidden sins. Was that fair? Couldn’t there have been some kind of warning before these men went into battle? And, why did Achan’s entire family have to die?
How do we apply this today? Do we ask what we’ve stolen from God? Do we ask what He has told us to do but we didn’t do? Are there those among us who have disobeyed the Lord and as a result, His blessing has been removed from us?
I think the message today is to make time each day to listen to Him. Ask Him to show you those things that are causing any diffiulties and deal with those things He reveals. In Joshua’s time, it took the death of 36 innocent warriors to signal the presence of unresolved sin. What will it take in your life?