Joshua 7: How Achan Ruined It For Everyone Else

Or, “Your sin is not just about ‘You and God.‘”

Just went we thought everything was going along swimmingly. Just when we thought Israel might get it right this time. Just when we thought their army would move through the promised land fighting battles as an invincible, immovable force.

Achan had to go and steal some stuff.

Thanks, Achan.

I know the silver was shiny. I know you started drooling when you saw that gold bar. And I know you thought you’d look totally gangsta in that cloak from Shinar. But don’t you remember was Joshua said last chapter?

He told us to burn everything and take the precious metals into the LORD’s treasury. I don’t know what part of that sounded like, “take the gold and silver and bury it in your tent.”

But aside from your own stupidity here, there were some real consequences to what you did.

People Died

Now granted, from a purely numerical perspective, the battle of Ai was not a slaughter. Only 1% of the soldiers were killed. But in Israel, that kind of loss is unacceptable.

The recon spies decided that only 3,000 people would be needed to take the city. And they were right.

But . . .

You, Achan, made our entire army fall out of favor with the LORD. And our entire strategy for taking the Promised Land hinges on His favor.

We should have won. It should have been a walk in the park. We should have two cities by now, not one. There are 36 men who should still be alive who aren’t.

Your sin affects all of us.

So when you and your family are stoned and burned to death, yes, it is a horrific punishment, but you are responsible for the deaths of 36 people. Some never had families, so their line is blotted out. Some have families who have no father now.

Your sin affects all of us.

We Are Not Islands

My sin affects all of you.

I’m not sure I could do something that affected only me. My life is connected to other people. I identify with a group of people who claim to follow this same God I am reading about. When I choose disobedience, it affects everyone.


Well, in Joshua, there is a basic interconnectedness in Israel. If they didn’t already think that way, God has been trying to build it into their lives. This event should solidify it pretty well I’d say.

Why do we think we are any different now?

Just because I live in a culture that thinks it is individualistic, doesn’t mean it actually is individualistic. We are not a culture of remote islands. We are more like an ecosystem. Everything is connected to everything else.

Therefore, whether or not I think what I do affects others, one thing is true: It does.

And sooner or later I will realize it.

So rather than let our sin mess it up for everyone else, why don’t we act in obedience and let THAT help everyone else out?


4 responses

  1. Like the butterfly effect!
    Science may have a name for this theory but it really is a fact isn’t it, and God made it so!
    Some of those ‘traced’ butterfly effect stories are crazy!! and here we see it just in an immediate sense like you say!
    Really something we should give much more serious thought to! Everything we do or don’t do – effects others!

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