Summary: The sin of an Achen heart will deafen us, blind us to danger, lead us to sin, and bring shame and destruction to ourselves and others.
I was 18 years old when I stole my first and only item. I was a bagger at a local grocery store. The store had some small battery operated record players that played 45s. (For those too young to remember what 45s were, they looked like bid CDs with a hole in the middle.) Many of the record players did not operate correctly so they were stored in the basement for disposal.
One night before leaving the store, I pushed one of these small players through a slot in a back door, drove my car to the back of the store, and retrieved it. Fortunately the one I stole actually played. I never felt guilty or worried about being caught. Soon my indiscretion was forgotten.
I eventually became a store manager with this same store. After an inventory, it was discovered that several hundreds of dollars worth of meat products were missing. Since I was one of a few who had keys to the store, I became a prime suspect. I was asked by the owner to submit to a polygraph test. Being innocent, I readily agreed.
As the examiner began the test, he informed me of the questions he would be asking. The first question was "Have you ever stolen any merchandise from this store?" That indiscretion so easily forgotten suddenly came rushing back. I knew to answer "No" would show as a lie and implicate me in something more serious than a small record player. I was forced to confess to a theft that had taken place 10 years earlier. However, in doing so it proved my innocence in a more serious matter. Numbers 32:23 states that we can be sure our sins will find us out.
Today we are going to discover the truth about hidden sin as we read the story of Achan.
Joshua 6 tells us the story of the fall of Jericho. Jericho was a mighty city protected by a wall that could not be penetrated making the city invincible. Joshua had the people of Israel to march around the wall once each morning for six days. The priests blew rams horns but the people were silent. On the seventh day, the plan changed.
“On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town!” (Joshua 6:15-16) “When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it.” (Joshua 6:20)
Prior to the wall falling God had given Joshua some very strict guidelines that will come into play in the message today. Let’s look at what God commanded.
Joshua 6:18 “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.”
All the animals and people, with the exception of Rahab and her family, were to be put to death. All the valuables were to be placed in the tabernacle.
Let’s continue the story. “Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”
So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away. (Joshua 7:2-5)
Why did this happen? The Israelites had defeated the mighty city of Jericho and now were soundly defeated by the small town of Ai. Let’s read Joshua 7:1 “But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.”
1) The sin of an Achan heart will deafen us to God’s voice.
Joshua 6: 18 “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel.”