Summary: Steps in Achans sin
Last week we began to look at this 7th chapter of the book of Joshua, the chapter that records Israel’s one and only defeat in their campaign, under the leadership of Joshua, to conquer and take possession of the land of Canaan.
We saw that the root cause of that defeat was the presence of sin among the people, sin which had caused the presence and power of God, that presence and power by which they had so easily conquered Jericho, to be withdrawn from them. God had promised that if they obeyed him they would be blessed, they would overthrow their enemies – five of them would chase a hundred and a hundred would put ten thousand to flight and their enemies would fall before them by the sword, that was what God had said in Leviticus 26/8. He had promised in Deut 28/1, 7 “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow His commands…the Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you…” But he had also warned them in that same chapter in vs 15, 25 “However if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all His commands and decrees…The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies…”
And of course this is exactly what had happened as they entered upon their military campaign against Canaan. Victory and blessing were theirs at Jericho as they obeyed the Lord’s command. Defeat and humiliation was their portion at Ai because God’s clear instruction, that they were to take nothing for themselves from the spoils of their victory over Jericho, that command had been disobeyed. It had been disobeyed by only one man, and it seems his family circle, but that one sinner in the camp had terrible consequences for the people as a whole. His sin robbed them of victory at Ai. His sin and the unexpected set-back that resulted from it caused the leader of God’s people and the people as a whole to become greatly disheartened and for a time at least to loose their spiritual perspective and waver in their faith in God’s promises. Sin always has serious ramifications, not only for the individual themselves but also for their family and for the congregation to which they belong.
Well having dealt with the Israelites defeat at Ai last week I want this evening to hone in on and look more closely at the sin that Achan committed. And I want to do that under four headings. I want us to consider first of all
1) The Successive Steps of Achan’s Sin
Both in verse 1 and also in verse 21 we learn that the sin Achan committed was that of taking something that God had said no-one was allowed to take, namely any of the spoils of victory from Jericho. Everything had to be devoted to the Lord and put into His treasury in the tabernacle. Achan however had disobeyed this command and had stolen some of the booty – a Babylonian Garment, 200 shekels of silver and a wedge of gold. But it is instructive to note that Achan’s actual stealing of those items was but the culmination of a process of sin the distinct stages of which are clearly identified in Achan’s own words in v20,21. What were those distinct successive stages in Achan’s sin? Well lets read the verses together – “Achan replied, it is true…underneath”
Notice that the first step that Achan took down the slippery slope of sin was
(i) His Gaze – The Look of the Eyes
Look at v21 again “When I saw, in the plunder, a beautiful robe from Babylonia, 200 shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels…”
You can picture can you not something of what must have taken place here. The walls of Jericho have fallen down, the people of the city are panic stricken. The men of Israel’s army are running through the streets and in and out of buildings and houses killing their enemies, as God had instructed them to do, their destruction being the means by which God was punishing them for their gross sinfulness. And as Achan in the caourse of his responsibilities and duties as a soldier in Israel’s army is running through one of the houses or buildings in pursuit of the enemy suddenly he notices this beautiful designer coat and lying beside it a considerable amount of money and beside it a wedge of gold’ These things happen to catch his eye. Now there was no sin involved in him seeing these items. As Warren Weirsbe points out he probably couldn’t help seeing them, they were lying there. He, in the course of his duty just happened to be going past the place where these things were lying and he saw them. But whilst his seeing these items wasn’t a sin, his allowing his eyes to look at them again, his second glance, this time with a degree of unholy interest in them, this second glance undoubtedly played a major part in the sin he ended up committing. It was this second glance, this looking with awakened interest, this allowing the eyes to dwell upon the items, that got his imagination working and which set the wheels of temptation and of sin in motion. Temptation entered through his eyes.