Summary: If we are to stay in Canaan and live victoriously, we need to heed the warnings of secret sin found in Joshua 7.
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In this chapter, we will see the sin that lost the war. God’s plan for each believer is to live the Canaan experience every day in every area of life. In Joshua 7, we see the results of hidden sin. Sin brings failure. Regardless how long we have known Christ as Savior, we must be careful not to let sin break our relationship with God. God had given a solemn warning about the treasures left in Jericho. Joshua 6:18 says to “keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it.” God gave the victory of the battle to the people, but the spoils belonged in the treasury of the nation.
At this point the walls have fallen and the city of Jericho is lying in ruins. God gave a mighty victory to the people of Israel. Each family is camped outside the city in their own tents. They rest from the rigors of the day’s battle. While most are asleep, one man, Achan, hides spoils from the battle under the floor of his tent. In disobedience to God’s command, he keeps 200 shekels of silver, a wedge of gold, and a Babylonian garment. His “secret” sin was revealed as 3,000 men went off to war against the small town of Ai the next morning. The secret sin of one man caused the loss of that battle and the death of 36 men in Israel’s army.
If we are to stay in Canaan and live victoriously, we need to heed the warnings of secret sin found in Joshua 7. Notice the underlying cause, the unfailing curse, and the ultimate consequences of secret sin.
THE UNDERLYING CAUSE OF SECRET SIN
The two major causes for secret sin in the nation of Israel were carelessness and covetousness.
1. There was carelessness. There was a tremendous amount of carelessness by God’s people as it related to Ai. That is evident because, first, there was pride in the nation of Israel.
a. Caused by pride. The people were obviously elated by their success at Jericho. Pride likely caused them to think they could do anything and defeat anyone. If we think we do not need God’s power and Word, we are going to experience defeat in our lives. As a result of pride, they were careless in making decisions concerning Ai. Not only was there pride, but there was also presumption.
b. Caused by presumption.
3“They returned to Joshua and said to him, ‘Do not let all the people go up; only about two or three thousand men need go up to Ai; do not make all the people toil up there, for they are few.’”
Men were sent to spy out the situation in Ai. Finding it to be a small, insignificant town, their report was accepted that only a small garrison of two or three thousand men was needed for this battle. This time Joshua failed to inquire of the Lord as to what he should do. May we never be presumptuous concerning our need for God’s abiding presence and help as we endeavor to live and serve victoriously for Him. When we think we can do things in our own might and wisdom, we are surely going to fail.
A missionary was trapped by a lion and pleaded for God to make a way of escape which God did, but he slept little that night because he could not kill a pesky mosquito that bothered him all night. He sought God’s help for the larger problem but not the smaller one. Many people get serious when they face their Jericho but think little of confronting their Ai with the help of God. It is often the small, insignificant matters that trip us and bring us to defeat. We need to be serious about every decision and every opportunity so we can be victorious at all times.
c. Caused by prayerlessness. A great prayer meeting took place after the defeat.
6“Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7Joshua said, ‘Alas, O LORD God, why did You ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan! 8O LORD, what can I say since Israel has turned their back before their enemies? 9For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will You do for Your great name?’ 10So the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? 11Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. 12Therefore, the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst.’”