Summary: Through the sin of Achan, and the defeat at Ai, we learn some valuable lessons on the process of temptation to sin, and dependence on God.
“An Achan, Breakin’ Heart”
INTRODUCTION: This morning, we are going to take a look at “An Achan, Breakin’ Heart”. Turn with me to Joshua 7:1-26 – (READ in NLT).
Israel had just come from 40 years of watching God work:
• God led them out of the bondage of Egypt.
• God opened the Red Sea for them to cross over … and drowned the Egyptian army.
• God led them for 40 years with a cloud by day, a fire by night.
• God fed them with manna … gave them water from a rock.
• God clothed them with shoes that never wore out … clothes that never got old.
• God parted the Jordan River for them to cross over into the Promised Land.
• The Amorites fled when they saw them coming.
• God gave them the city of Jericho … all they had to do was march around it 7 times.
NOW … let’s take a look at: (KJV)
7:1 – “But” – They had just come from the successful campaign against Jericho, where “the walls came tumbling down”. “But” … things are about to change.
Achan had disobeyed a direct order from God. See 6:17-19, 24. The riches of Jericho belonged to God … to be put into His treasury. To take any of it for yourself, would bring a CURSE from God. God made it very clear.
NORMALLY, in Bible times, when an army was victorious, a soldier could loot the enemy camp or city, and take the spoils as his pay. BUT … not at Jericho. It was to go onto the treasury of the house of the Lord. Achan, however, took some of the spoils for himself – 7:21.
There is a LESSON here for us. Things had been going so well for Israel, that they had become complacent. They were cocky. They were careless. (We will see this a little later.)
SUCCESS will often lead us to take the Lord for granted. When things are going well … we have money in the bank … our health is good … we’re living on top of the mountain … we tend to forget God. We forget that it is GOD who has blessed us. We tend to think that we got what we’ve got … we are where we are … because WE made it possible. AND … we stray away from God. We are the most vulnerable to temptation, in moments of apparent success.
HOWEVER, when troubles comes, what do we usually do? We turn to God for help. Problems and struggles make us more dependent on God. TRUE? MAYBE … that’s why, like the walls of Jericho, our life comes tumbling down at times. God has to bring us down a notch. God has to make us depend on Him.
7:2-4 – Jericho was a mighty city … fortified … a great defeat. NEXT in their way was Ai. Ai was just a wide place in the camel trail. There wasn’t much to it. No problem! After all, look at what “they did” at Jericho! If “they” could conquer Jericho, “they” could easily take Ai. (COMPARE Gainesville, Bell).
NOTICE … they didn’t even have to pray about Ai. No problem … we can do it … a piece of cake. SO … they failed to seek God’s direction and pray for His strength. The RESULT? They were utterly defeated!
There’s a LESSON here for us. How many times do you start off your day … WITHOUT GOD? Every day, you face struggles with sin … battles with temptation … the need for wisdom, strength and guidance from God. BUT … when you leave God out of your DAY … out of your LIFE … out of your STRUGGLE … you’re in for a tough time … a rough ride. Israel found it out the hard way. We need to learn from their mistake! Many of our failures in life could be avoided, if we FIRST would only go to God in prayer.
7:5 - When they got to Ai, they expected them to surrender in fear and trembling. INSTEAD, they were met with pitchforks, broom handles, and machetes. They only took 3000 of the 40,000 soldiers (4:13) with them. After all, it would be a piece of cake. THEN … when they saw the townspeople attack them, they fled like rats from a burning ship. They were like the Amorites, in 5:1. “The thrill of victory … the agony of defeat”.
7:6-9 – Joshua falls face-down before the Lord. He tells God what’s on his heart. MAYBE … if he would have done 7:6 BEFORE the battle at Ai, he wouldn’t be doing it now.
I don’t think that Joshua is complaining ABOUT GOD, as much as he is complaining TO GOD. God’s reputation was tainted. God’s Name was soiled. 7:9b