Summary: A sermon on what needs to happen if we are to recover from defeat and rise to victory.
In the earlier part of chapter seven, we read about how the people of Israel had fallen into defeat through their disobedience, their self-sufficiency, and their prayerlessness. Often, you or I fall into defeat for the same reasons. But they did not stay in defeat for long. As we read on through chapter 7 and chapter 8, we discover that the people went from having fallen into defeat to rising again to victory. In chapter 7 they were defeated by Ai, but in chapter 8 they defeat Ai. What brought about such a dramatic change?
This is something that we should like to know, for many times, we, like the Israelites, fall into defeat. How can we rise again to victory? How can we pick ourselves up from the floor of failure and stand once again in the victory that is our’s in Christ? Let’s see what we can learn from the people of Israel in Joshua’s day.
If we are going to rise again to victory after falling into defeat, we must . . .
1. Deal With Our Sin - 7:14-26
God told Joshua that they would not be able to stand against their enemies until they had dealt with the sin that was among the people (v. 13). He therefore told Joshua what to do in order to remove the sin from their midst (vs. 14-15). Joshua did as God had said and discovered that the one who had sinned was Achan (vs.16-18).
Now, one question that we might ask is why God had Joshua to go through a tribe-by-tribe, family-by-family, house-by-house, and man-by-man search until the guilty party was found. Why didn’t the Lord just point out Achan immediately as the offender? There are two possible reasons why God did things as He did.
First, God was making a dramatic presentation of truth to the people that sin cannot be hidden and that sin affects everybody. Although Achan had attempted to hide his sin (v. 21), and had succeeded in hiding it from his fellow Israelites, he could not hide it from God! And even though this was a sin that only Achan and his family had participated in and that only they knew about, it nevertheless affected the entire congregation!
In the same way, we must realize that our sin cannot be hidden from God and that no matter how private our sin may be it will always, nevertheless, affect those around us.
Second, I believe that God was dealing graciously with Achan and his family by giving them a chance to repent. With each acknowledgement of innocence, the finger of judgment came one step closer to Achan. How many people were declared guiltless before Achan’s guilt was determined? At any point he could have confessed his sin. By every biblical precedent it appears that God would have been merciful and forgiving. For example, when David was confronted with his sin, he was quick to confess and was forgiven. Oh, Achan confessed alright, but notice that his was a forced confession (vs. 19-23) and as a result, rather than receiving the forgiveness of God, he received condemnation from God.
Please note the command of Joshua (v. 19), “Give glory to the Lord...give Him the praise. Tell...what you have done . . .” Both a willing confession and a forced confession give glory to God. Paul wrote that “every knee should bow . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord . . .” Philippians 2:10-11 (NIV). If one willingly confesses Jesus as Lord now, it will be a confession unto salvation, but a forced confession at the judgment seat will be a confession of condemnation! Achan’s forced confession did not save him from the wrath of God and neither will the forced confession of the thousand upon thousands of unbelievers who will stand before Christ on the day of judgment, confessing that Jesus is Lord! The only kind of confession that brings salvation and forgiveness is a willing confession. The kind of confession Achan refused to give, but that the rest of the people of Israel apparently were willingly to give (v. 23). As a result, Achan and his unrepentant family were condemned, while the rest of the people were restored to a right standing with God.