As the Israelites are making their final preparations to conquer the land of Canaan—the land that God had promised them—their main threat was not someone or something from the outside. It was not the “giants” or the “fortified cities” that would be their primary competition. It was someone on the inside. What was to be a joyous, celebratory occasion turned into a sad, sorrowful story because many lives were lost because of the sin of one man, Achan.
The Israelites were given explicit instructions—“abstain from the accursed things” (Josh. 6:18), but the precious metals “shall come into the treasury of the Lord” (v. 19). The Israelites obeyed, except Achan (Josh. 7:20-21). Achan saw, he coveted, he took and he hid. Achan may have asked himself: What harm is there if I take these things? But the ripple effect throughout the entire camp, his family and with God was devastating.
God’s anger burned against the children of Israel (Josh. 7:1), causing Him to withhold His blessing upon the Israelites as they went into battle with Ai. The result? What should have been an easy victory instead cost the lives of 36 men, and “the hearts of the people melted and became like water” (v. 5). Achan’s family also paid the price for his sin, losing their lives as well (Josh. 7:22-26).
Let’s not forget this detail: The precious metals that were to be added to the treasury of the Lord were God’s. Achan robbed God directly. God had given specific instructions, and someone violated them. Every sin we commit is “lawlessness” (I John 3:4). Sin is disregarding God’s law. It’s the attitude of, “I’m going to do what I want to do when I want to do it.”
Nothing is private: God sees everything we do, even before we do it (Heb. 4:13). Where are you going to go or what are you going to do that God doesn’t see? We can’t hide our sins from God, but we can bring them to God. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, we can escape the spiritual consequences.
The world we live in is no still pond. No person is an island. We all make ripples. What kind of ripples are you making? Is your private life a mirror reflection of your public spiritual life?