Joshua 7:14-26 All things hidden will one day come to light
“In the morning then you shall come near by your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the Lord takes by lot shall come near by families, and the family which the Lord takes shall come near by households, and the household which the Lord takes shall come near man by man. 15 It shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him, because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he has committed a disgraceful thing in Israel. ’”
16 So Joshua arose early in the morning and brought Israel near by tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17 He brought the family of Judah near, and he took the family of the Zerahites; and he brought the family of the Zerahites near man by man, and Zabdi was taken. 18 He brought his household near man by man; and Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” 20 So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was concealed in his tent with the silver underneath it. 23 They took them from inside the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the sons of Israel, and they poured them out before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. 26 They raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day, and the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the valley of Achor to this day.
Achan’s transgression resulted in the defeat of Israel together with 36 men who perished in the battle against Ai. His family was also summarily executed for his crime. What appeared as a trivial and private act of greed resulted in irreparable consequences and loss of innocent lives. Today’s passage teaches us that all things hidden lay bare to the all seeing God who judges. Therefore, believers must endeavor to live in the light. As parents possess the capacity to imbue into their children blessings or curses, they must conduct themselves with righteousness.
It shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire.
Achan’s sinful act had violated Israel’s sanctity as a covenant people. Therefore, the people must sanctify themselves by dealing with the curse at its root. Instead of pointing out the offender directly, the Lord chose an indirect means where He would mark it by a process of elimination. This served perhaps to test the willingness of the offender to come forward while the lot unraveled. Transgressions of this nature were punishable by death as it affected the covenantal status of the entire nation. Achan committed a senselessly wicked (disgraceful) thing causing the lives of 36 men and the honor of God in Canaan. Therefore, the offender together with his family and assets were to be burned by fire.
My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.
The divine elimination process singled out Achan as the offender. Joshua charged Achan to submit to God’s authority and confess his sin: give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him. The word praise (todah in Hebrew) also means to confess. The entire process of elimination from beginning to the end had God as the Judge and prosecutor. Achan who kept silent throughout the whole process now made a full confession as an offender against no one but God Himself: Truly, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel.
Achan revealed his lustful desire (I coveted) for beautiful things and for wealth: a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them. His obsession and lust for things blinded him to the consequence and this caused him and his family their lives.
Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.
Messengers were sent to search and recover the stolen objects from Achan’s tent. The items were carried back and presented to Joshua and the people of Israel. The Old Testament system of sacrifice had made provision for sins committed unintentionally. However, for the person who does anything defiantly,… who despised the word of the Lord and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him (Numbers 15:30-31). “Cut off” means to kill and to destroy. Joshua’s final words spoke of Achan having brought trouble to the whole nation of Israel and in return the Lord will trouble you this day. Achan had caused Israel to transgress the Lord’s covenant, and he and his family would pay dearly for this transgression. Although some have argued that Achan’s family might have knowledge of this conspiracy that implicated them. However, it is acceptable even in the natural law, that the sins of the fathers do affect their children. On the other hand, it is also true, that the wisdom and prosperity of the fathers will contribute to their children’s inheritance. Nevertheless, this punishment in accordance to ancient Israel’s civil law does not imply eternal condemnation for Achan and his family as there seemed to be a hint of remorse in Achan’s confession.
God sees our acts done in private and will hold us accountable. What was Achan thinking when he took the objects? Surely he knew the dire consequences for his actions if he was discovered. Either he supposed it was too small a thing, and that it was a private matter which was no big deal or he assumed that God would not have allowed such a small transgression to affect the entire nation. However, a transgression of the covenant of first fruits was grave in God’s eyes. Achan had allowed his lust for things to blind his eyes to the consequences of transgressing the ban. The motives of our heart and the things done in private lay bare before God’s eyes. And God will hold the offender accountable!
Many supposed their little offences and misdeeds are a private matter and nobody would know or care including God. Hence, they continued in their trysts and affairs thinking they would never come to light. By carefully planning their rendezvous, they supposed they could shield themselves from public scrutiny by hiding their trails. However, little did they know that God is also actively working to expose their sins. Jesus said,
But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops. Luke 12:2-3
It is wise to give up the pleasures of darkness and come into the light before it is too late.
Greed and lust for material possessions blind us to the dangers that lay ahead. Achan knew the consequence of taking the objects would lead to capital punishment for his family. However, his greed and lust was so overpowering that he couldn’t care less. He was mesmerized by the notion of possessing the articles that he could not assess the outcome objectively and logically. Some people got themselves into sham financial investments that saw their fortunes plummet overnight. They got sold on past year growth data and hoping against hope that the upward trend would continue. They ignored sound advice by choosing the path of mindless optimism only to drag their family into the mire.
Sound decisions can only be made in the absence of greed and lust. Being content with what one currently possesses leads to godliness and abundant living. True prosperity is being contented with what God has given. The apostle Paul said,
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:6-10
The decisions of the fathers have a direct consequence on their children. It is well accepted that children inherit all things from their fathers. The fathers’ financial account – debt or wealth will be handed down to their children. Children are also the recipients of their fathers’ spiritual depository, be it blessings or curses. Therefore, fathers must be fully aware of their position and capacity to bless or to curse. However, the greatest inheritance that fathers can give to their children is the principles of abundant living. Children learn not through hearing but through observation. Their parents’ perception of the world and the way they handle challenges and even injustices etches deeply into their children’s minds. The children’s future will be derived from what they observed through their parents. The psalmist wrote,
How blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who greatly delights in His commandments.
His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever.
Light arises in the darkness for the upright;
He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.
It is well with the man who is gracious and lends;
He will maintain his cause in judgment.
For he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be remembered forever. Psalm 112:1-6
- Are you harboring a habitual sin which you perceived as private and trivial? Whatever we do carry a consequence that will one day affect our family and church. No sin is too small to be considered as private and trivial and God will not hear our prayers. The psalmist wrote, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Psalms 66:18
- Do we as a parent, a minister or a manager practice double standards? Do we teach our children or subordinates while not practicing what we stand for? If we do not repent, God will in due time expose our sins and hypocrisy.
Dear Lord, forgive me for my hypocrisy and my habitual weaknesses thinking that no one would know. I desire to be free from darkness and be conformed to the image of Christ. Fill me with your Spirit and sanctify me for your work. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.