Summary: We often hear, "How I live my life and the things I do is nobody's business but mine as long as I don't hurt anyone else." Nothing could be further from the truth." How you live matters more than you think.
What's Achan You?
There is an old saying, first penned by John Donne, "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of a continent, a part of the main." What Donne was saying is that we are all in some way connected to each other and what happens to one person affects us all. So often I hear Christians and non-Christians saying, "How I live my life and the things I do is nobody's business but mine as long as I don't hurt anyone else." Nothing could be further from the truth. In Joshua 7, we have the story how one man's hidden action affected a whole nation.
I. The Story of Israel at AI
A. They were over confident.
1. Israel was riding high. They had miraculously crossed the Jordan River by stepping out into the waters by faith upon which God parted the waters and Israel crossed over on dry ground.
2. From there they miraculously conquered the walled city of Jericho by obediently following God's command which resulted in a complete victory by Israel without a single battle casualty.
B. They were walking by sight not by faith
1. Next on the list of cities to conquer was a small city of approximately 12,000 people including women and children. In Joshua 7:2, we see that men were sent to spy out the next city they were to conquer.
2. When the spies return, they are confident in what they've seen.
3. Joshua 7:3 "And they returned to Joshua and said to him, "Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few."
4. What they were saying was "Look, there's not a lot of people in Ai. They're not going to be a problem for us. We really don't need to send everybody up there to fight. Let's just send two or three thousand soldiers up there. We can easily handle this" They were basing their thoughts and actions on what they'd seen.
5. Joshua didn't say, "Well, let me seek the Lord in prayer and see what He says," he simply agreed. Like the others, Joshua, made his decision on what was seen.
But we know from Scripture that we are to,
6. 2 Corinthians 5:7 ...walk by faith, not by sight"
7. Hebrews 10:38 "...live by Faith"
8. Someone has said, "Some of the biggest mistakes you will ever make in your Christian life will be those "no-brainer" decisions that you make. Those times when you look at everything, weigh things logically, and make a decision - all without seeking the Lord in prayer." - copied
C. Joshua failed to pray and to consult God and the results were shocking and devastating
D. They were defeated by a handful
1. Joshua 7:4-5 "So about 3,000 men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, 5and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water."
2. What should have been a resounding victory was instead a humiliating retreat costing the lives of 36 Israelites.
3. Though this number was small from a military standpoint, it stunned and staggered Israel. All that self confidence was rocked as they became fearful realizing that they defeats were possible in the conquest of the Promised Land.
E. They were confused
1. Joshua 7:7-9 " And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! 8 O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies? 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?”
2. They could not understand what had happened nor why. Why had they gone from victory to defeat? What happened that God withdrew His protective hand.
F. They were guilty
1. God answers Joshua's inquiry - there is sin in the camp
2. Joshua 7:11-12 " Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you."