The first word of today’s chapter is “But”. Whenever we see that, we need to remember what the previous statement was, because “but” is a word that ties two thoughts together. If I say to you, “But I’m going to have a snack,” you don’t know the full meaning of that statement. I might have said,”I just ate” or “I’m late for an appointment” or “I’m on a diet” or “Dinner is in fifteen minutes” or any number to other things. Each one of those opening statements gives a bit of a different flavor to my “But I’m going to have a snack” statement.
Here in Joshua 7, we have to go back to the last sentence of Joshua 6, which read, “So the lord was with Joshua, and his reputation spread throughout the land.”
And the first sentence of Joshua 7 was, “But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord.”
And then the story of what happened unfolds. We see that the sin of one man ignited God’s wrath against the entire nation. You’ve heard the phrase, “No man is an island”? That fact is shown to be true here. Our secret sins, even if we think they won’t affect anyone, are seen by God, and they do affect others. Our families, our churches, our communities, our nation.
The fact that Joshua was committed to doing what was right in God’s sight was evident by the fact that he was willing to tear his clothes and lie face down on the ground before the Ark of the Covenant, which represented the presence of God until the evening. And then God told Joshua what the problem was, and how Joshua should address it.
As the narrowing down process went forward, Achan had every opportunity to step forward and confess. The fact that he didn’t do that sealed his fate. It wasn’t until God revealed that this was the one that he confessed, and told the details of his sin. Note that he knew that all of the plunder was to go to the Lord, but when he saw that Babylonian robe he allowed himself to begin thinking about how beautiful it was. And that led to coveting it and then the silver and the gold. His sin began like all others. Not in the seeing, but in the rolling it over in his mind, imagining himself owning it.
Friend, whenever we’re tempted, the safest thing we can do is not to try to fight it, but to run. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says “Flee from sexual immorality…”. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee the evil desires of youth…” Ecclesiastes 21:2 says, “Flee from sin as from the face of a serpent…”