In the 7th chapter of the Book of Joshua we are introduced to a man named Achan. At the time we meet him the city of Jericho had just been conquered by the Israelite army under the command of Joshua after God had caused the walls of Jericho to miraculously fall down. But with the victory came a command from the Lord that the Israelites were to take nothing from the city for themselves. Everything in Jericho was said to be “devoted to destruction” by God. In essence, Jericho was to be a whole burnt offering unto the Lord. It was to be burned with fire and those things that the fire couldn’t destroy – gold, silver, bronze, iron – were to be placed in Lord’s treasury. And if anyone dared to disobey the Lord’s command to not take anything from Jericho for themselves the consequences were death.
That’s where Achan comes in. Though the Lord’s command concerning taking things from Jericho was clear he took three things from Jericho – a cloak from Shinar, 200 shekels of silver, and a 50 shekel bar of gold.
At first his disobedience to God was hidden from Joshua and the Israelites. But when the Israelite army was badly defeated when they went up against the small town of Ai after their stunning victory over Jericho Joshua knew something was wrong.
God revealed to Joshua that they couldn’t stand before their enemies because someone in their midst had disobeyed Him by taking things from Jericho. Then God revealed who that someone was – Achan. He was subsequently executed.
Does that seem harsh? Perhaps. But appearances can be deceiving. Once one understands the significance of the things he took – the cloak, the silver, and the gold – we understand why Achan had to die. But with that understanding comes knowledge that we too are guilty of Achan’s sin and deserve to share his fate.
“But”, you say, “I’m not guilty of Achan’s sin. I’m not a thief. And I’ve certainly never taken anyone’s cloak or silver or gold.”
Really? I humbly suggest you have – and so have I. Don’t believe it? Then I invite you to listen to the sermon, “Achan’s Sin”. You may be surprised at what you learn.