1687.) Joshua 7

“Achan is stoned to death” —  by Gustave Dore (1832-1883)

Joshua 7   (NRSV)

The Sin of Achan and Its Punishment

But the Israelites broke faith in regard to the devoted things: Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things; and the anger of the Lord burned against the Israelites.

Joshua commanded the nation in Joshua 6:18 that they should not take of any of the accursed things, those things that were associated with the demonic and debasing worship and practices of the Canaanites.

–David Guzik



It may take a little mental re-arranging, but I bet you can apply this song to our chapter today!  HERE  is Olivia Newton-John and “Hopelessly Devoted.”


2Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai.

3Then they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Not all the people need go up; about two or three thousand men should go up and attack Ai. Since they are so few, do not make the whole people toil up there.” 4So about three thousand of the people went up there; and they fled before the men of Ai. 5The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them, chasing them from outside the gate as far as Shebarim and killing them on the slope. The hearts of the people melted and turned to water.

The defeat at Ai showed that what mattered was not the strength of the opponent, but the help of God. Without God’s help, all would be lost.

6Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the ground on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7Joshua said, “Ah, Lord God! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan!

from Today God Is First,
by Os Hillman


“And Joshua said, ‘Ah, Sovereign Lord, why did You ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!’” – Joshua 7:7

Have you ever felt like you were doing what God wanted you to do, but your plans were totally frustrated? This was how Joshua felt.

The Lord had been with the people of Israel as they entered the Promised Land. They defeated every enemy because of God’s blessing and protection. They had just taken the city of Jericho. The next battle was the city of Ai. They scouted the enemy and determined it would require only 3,000 men to defeat them. They attacked, and soon the reports came back that they were being routed. Joshua could not understand this. He cried out to God asking why this was happening.

The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 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. 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” (Joshua 7:10-12).

Whenever we open ourselves up to sin, we become liable. God removes His protective shield from our lives in order for the sin in our lives to be purged out. He often uses the enemy of our souls to accomplish the task. If you feel you are being thwarted in some way, examine your life to see if there is any sin that is the cause of the problem. Adversity is not always due to sin, but it can be. Ask Him. He will show you. As with Joshua, God immediately answered this prayer when Joshua asked. He desires for His children to live in a right relationship with Him.

8O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has turned their backs to their enemies! 9The Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will you do for your great name?”

Josh7 IAmYahweh

1 Kings 8:41-42 (NLT)

“In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands because of your name,  for they will hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm.”

10The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why have you fallen upon your face? 11Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I imposed on them. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have acted deceitfully, and they have put them among their own belongings. 12Therefore the Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they turn their backs to their enemies, because they have become a thing devoted for destruction themselves. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13Proceed to sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “There are devoted things among you, O Israel; you will be unable to stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.”

14‘In the morning therefore you shall come forward tribe by tribe. The tribe that the Lord takes shall come near by clans, the clan that the Lord takes shall come near by households, and the household that the Lord takes shall come near one by one. 15And the one who is taken as having the devoted things shall be burned with fire, together with all that he has, for having transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and for having done an outrageous thing in Israel.’”

16So Joshua rose early in the morning, and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17He brought near the clans of Judah, and the clan of the Zerahites was taken; and he brought near the clan of the Zerahites, family by family, and Zabdi was taken. 18And he brought near his household one by one, and Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.

19Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and make confession to him. Tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

What does it really mean to give God “glory”?

Let’s begin with the very basic concept of giving glory to God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” The word “glory” comes from the Greek word (doxa), and it means thought or opinion; it relates to one’s view of or judgment about a thing. In other words, when I “do all to the glory of God,” I am to live in such a way that people have a right opinion, right thoughts, and a proper perspective of God!

But let’s take it a step further. We need to understand that it is impossible for us to give “glory to God” apart from having a relationship with Him. Remember that Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD”!

To give God glory means to give others a right opinion about Him in “whatsoever ye do.” In order to do that, we must “walk in the light, as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7). Therefore, if any of us at present are walking “in darkness,” the only way back to a life that gives glory to God is to “confess our sins” (1 John 1:9). This is exactly what Joshua expressed to Achan when he confronted him about the sin which Achan had both committed and concealed. He said, “My son, GIVE, I pray thee, GLORY to the Lord God of Israel, and MAKE CONFESSION UNTO HIM” (Joshua 7:19). If you are not right with God, you can begin again to “give…glory to the Lord” when you “make confession unto him.”

from “Brother Smallwood’s Devotional Blog”

20And Achan answered Joshua, “It is true; I am the one who sinned against the Lord God of Israel. This is what I did: 21when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them. They now lie hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

Deuteronomy 5:19 (NIV)

“You shall not steal.”

Deuteronomy 5:21 (NIV)

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

How clearly this story shows us the irrationality of the unregenerate human heart! Achan stole a beautiful robe:  Where would he wear it? If he went out in it and his neighbors said, “Hey, Achan, what a nice robe! Where did you get it?” — what could he say? And he stole all that silver and a gold bar. Where did he think he would spend it? And did he think no one would notice and wonder? How very foolish. How very tragic.

22So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23They took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites; and they spread them out before the Lord.

24Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, with the silver, the mantle, and the bar of gold, with his sons and daughters, with his oxen, donkeys, and sheep, and his tent and all that he had; and they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord is bringing trouble on you today.”

“Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

And all Israel stoned him to death; they burned them with fire, cast stones on them, 26and raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore that place to this day is called the Valley of Achor.

from Joshua,
by Jerome F.D. Creach

The sins of one family member affected every other member, especially in the case of the head of the household, who embodied the values and actions of the entire group. This becomes clear when we recognize that Achan’s sin is a negative parallel to Rahab’s right action. When Joshua 7:15 says that the guilty one, “together with all that he has,” shall be destroyed,  it uses a phrase identical to the one that describes Rahab’s family in 6:25. Rahab’s act of harboring the spies preserves her family, while Achan’s faithless deed dooms his. Her righteousness was extended to her household, just as Achan’s disobedience caused his entire family to be implicated in his crime.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Dore.    http://catholic-resources.org/Dore/Images/OT-050.jpg
Yahweh.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/yahweh%252Bin%20English/Frank4YAHWEH/IAmYahweh-1.jpg
We’re Number 1!    http://media.point2.com/p2a/htmltext/47b6/fc41/4060/5894e06ba15e008797e4/original.jpg
“Glory to God” banner (First Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, IL).   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/7-glory-banner.jpg
Achan hiding his loot.    http://www.godsacres.org/img.Achan.jpg
Tzarfati.    http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/albom/pictures/20.htm
statue of people holding hands.    http://everystockphoto.s3.amazonaws.com/statue_museum_fragment_232565_l.jpg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: