It was arguably one of the grandest times in the history of Israel. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, they were finally entering the Promised Land. Through a dramatic miracle, the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River at its flood stage — on dry land. This dry-land crossing was so impressive that the hearts of the heathen kings in Canaan melted, and they had no spirit to fight (Joshua 5:1).
The first real challenge in the conquest of Canaan was the walled and fortified city of Jericho. No one knew what to do to defeat the inhabitants of Jericho — not even Joshua. In answer to Joshua’s prayer, God revealed the plan for the destruction of the city, which they followed. But then things took a decidedly bad turn.
Read Joshua 7:1-26. What happened after the powerful victory at Jericho, and what message should we take from this story for ourselves?
Once confronted, Achan admitted what he did, saying that he had “coveted” those goods. The Hebrew word there translated “coveted,” chmd, has been used in some places in the Bible in a very positive sense. The same root appears in Daniel 9:23, for instance, when Gabriel told Daniel that he was a man “greatly beloved.”
In this case, however, this chmd was bad news. Despite the clear command not to pillage for themselves from the captured cities (Joshua 6:18-19), Achan did just that, bringing disrepute upon the whole nation. In fact, after the defeat at Ai, Joshua feared that “the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?” (Joshua 7:9, NKJV). In other words, the Lord wanted to use these great victories as part of letting the surrounding nations know of His power and His working among His own people. Their conquests were to be (in a different sort of way) a witness to the nations of Yahweh’s power. Of course, after the fiasco at Ai, besides the loss of human life, that witness had been compromised.
|Think about how easily Achan could have justified his actions: well, it’s such a small amount compared to all the rest of the booty. No one will know, and what can it hurt? Besides, my family needs the money. How can we protect ourselves from this kind of dangerous rationalization?|