Summary: Like Achan we may think our sin will not be uncovered--even by God. But we need to remember that nothing can be hidden from God and the guilt of our sins still stands. This account leads us to confess our sins and turn in faith to Christ forgiveness!
Soon after they fell into sin Adam and Eve tried to hide their guilt behind coverings made of fig leaves. Later because of their sin they also vainly attempted to hide themselves from God. Adam and Eve’s son Cain thought he could hide the guilt of shedding his brother’s innocent blood by claiming that he was not his brother’s keeper. Joseph’s brothers attempted to cover their sin of selling him into slavery by staining his clothing with an animal’s blood and telling their father he had been devoured by a wild beast. Moses tried to bury his guilt in the sand after he killed an Egyptian. King David also tried to cover up his sin of adultery by having Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed. For a short time it seemed as though he had successfully buried the truth about what he had done. But as we know God brought sin to light.
Time and time again God’s Word tells us about people who tried to cover up or bury their sins in one way or another. I have just given you a few examples of this but there are many more.
In this Old Testament Lesson we meet another person in a long line of sinners who thought they could hide their sins from those around them and even from God! In the story of Achan we hear how he literally tried to bury his sins in the ground under his tent.
But this is much more than history lesson. In the Word of God to which we will direct our attention for our sermon today we will see ourselves. We too have attempted to cover up our sins and bury them in the deep recesses of our hearts and minds. The devil has often led us to believe the delusion that we can cover up some pet sins or private guilt. Like Achan we may think our sin will not be uncovered. But we need to remember that nothing can be hidden from God and the guilt of our sins still stands. So today may God the Holy Spirit lead each of us to consider one question:
“WHAT’S BURIED UNDER YOUR TENT?”
I. Stop hiding your sins and confess them to God
II. Trust that Christ was punished for your sins
Disaster had descended upon the Israelites. After their spectacular victory at Jericho, where the walls came tumbling down, they were defeated by the people of Ai. From a human perspective it should have been an easy victory against an insignificant city. But the army that Joshua sent against the Aites was soundly beaten and thoroughly embarrassed. They were sent fleeing in retreat.
The Children of Israel were devastated by this defeat. We are told in the verses leading up to our Old Testament Lesson that the “hearts of the people melted and became like water.” Joshua was also left stunned and confused. With his face in the dirt he poured out his discouragement and disappointment to the LORD in prayer. The LORD then spoke to Joshua explaining what had happened. “Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.” During the previous battle against Jericho somebody had taken some of the things that were devoted to the LORD. God had commanded that everything be destroyed. God went on to explain the result of this transgression. “That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” Our Old Testament Lesson begins with the process that Joshua used to uncover the one who had sinned against the LORD.
In order to reveal the guilty party all the Israelites were to appear before the LORD and he would start selecting one tribe, then one clan, then one family, and then finally one person. Our text tells us, “16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.” Imagine what Achan was thinking as his guilt was slowly being revealed! He couldn’t run away and hide from what he had done. Although he had buried the evidence of his sin under his tent God knew it was there. And very soon all his fellow Israelites would also know what he had done. Like a runaway freight train God’s justice was bearing down on Achan.