Joshua 7:12, NIV
“I will not be with you any more unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.”
The story of Achan’s sin (Joshua 7) is both sad and sobering. How could the people of Israel have fallen so quickly, after such an astounding victory over Jericho? The pathway that led Achan to sin (seen in verse 21) is the same pathway that Adam and Eve walked down back in Genesis: ‘I saw, I coveted, I took and I hid’. Sadly, we have all travelled this road to sin at some point ourselves, for we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
However, we do not always recognize the impact that our personal sin has on the body of believers to which we belong. Achan alone had sinned against God by stealing banned items from Jericho, yet God held the whole of Israel accountable for this sin. We are all susceptible to sin in one way or another, and our personal disobedience can have a negative effect on our entire community.
We must also recognise that yesterday’s victory is not an assurance of the same today. Following their victory at Jericho, the people of Israel went against Ai without inquiring of God first. They acted presumptuously, confident in their own ability, and 36 men died in battle as a result of this. Perhaps if they had stopped to inquire of the Lord first, He may have warned them not to attack whilst they were compromised by sin (as we see He did in Deuteronomy 1:42), and this discouraging defeat might have been avoided.
Achan did not repent of his sin, and God did not deal with his sin lightly. Though we do not know how much time elapsed between him stealing the items and being exposed, there was a window of opportunity in which he could have repented and did not. Even when he was identified by sacred lot, he confessed his sin but did not actually repent. As a result, Achan and his entire family died and were buried in the Valley of Achor.
Sin has serious consequences, both personally and corporately. We cannot stand against our enemies when sin is hidden in our midst. However, we read in Romans 6:23 that although ‘the wage of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’. Jesus has already taken upon Himself the punishment for all our sins. If we will repent and turn to Him, we receive the free gift of eternal life!
In Jesus, all things are made new; our ‘Valley of Achor’ (which literally means ‘valley of trouble’) becomes a door of hope (Hosea 2:15)! Let’s learn from Achan’s sin and acknowledge afresh today how dangerous our hidden sin truly is, that we might turn to Jesus in repentance, receiving His free gift of eternal life, and being able to stand firm against the enemy.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You that You love us enough to convict and correct us when we fall into sin. Please send Your Holy Spirit today; to convict us personally of any sin we have hidden within us. We choose now to humble ourselves before You, acknowledging that our victory is in Christ alone, not in our own strength or ability. We ask You to cleanse us and fill us afresh with Your Holy Spirit, so that we can stand against the enemy and walk in victory, in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.