Israel has just been involved in the greatest military conquest in their history. They have just witnessed the tremendous defeat of the city of Jericho and they are still basking in the glow of that great event. But, verse 1 tells us that God was upset with the people. Israel thought that everything was all right. They thought that they were standing on the edge of a great string of victories that would see them conquering the entire land of promise. Yet, what they didn't know was that there was a problem in the camp. There was one in their midst who was causing a problem for the entire family of God.
May I say that things are still the same today? According to the Bible, when one member of the body has problems, the entire body has problems. You see your spiritual temperature has a deep effect on the entire body of Christ. You are not an island unto your self. What you do affects the entire church body.
Sin causes problems. It causes them for the sinner and for everyone else around them. Most of us are guilty of being like Achan from time to time. When we allow sin into our lives and try to hide our sins or try to cover it up, we bring pain and trouble into our lives. These verses reveal to us the consequences of sin, and the correction that is necessary.
I. A Painful Defeat v1-5
A. Israel Was Over-Confident v2-3
1. Israel was still basking in the glow of their victory at Jericho and they looked at Ai and felt like that little town would be no problem for such a great army.
2. Israel was a confident people, but a closer look reveals that their confidence was misplaced.
3. In v3, they feel like that just a few of the soldiers are needed to secure a victory in little Ai.
4. They already had forgotten that it was God, and not their own ability, that had brought about the wonderful victory at Jericho.
5. How soon we forget! When we forget that we owe everything to God, we begin to be filled up with pride.
Pr 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
6. Confidence is a good thing as long as one's confidence is in the right place.
7. When we are walking with our hope and our confidence in the Lord, we will win the victory, but when we are walking with our confidence in the power of our ability and in our flesh, then we are destined to fail!
B. Israel Was Defeated v4-5a
1. When Israel went up to Ai in they suffered a terrible defeat and 36 of their number were killed.
2. This must have been very devastating to the Israelites.
3. However, when one takes the time to look more closely at their actions, it is easy to see that they made several mistakes.
4. Mistakes that, I feel, many of us are guilty of making as well.
C. Note some serious mistakes made.
1. They didn't pray.
a. Nowhere in this passage does it even hint that Joshua and the people of Israel sought the will of God for dealing with Ai.
b. They didn't even pray about the matter.
c. If they had, God would have revealed the problem before people died.
d. How many times are we guilty of jumping ahead of the Lord and His will?
e. We will rush headlong into life and trust the Lord to bail us out of the messes in which we find ourselves.
f. It is far better to consult God before we make the mistake than it is to expect Him to clean up our messes afterwards.
2. They didn't take the Ark of the Covenant into the battle.
a. The Ark symbolized the presence and power of God.
b. They went into the battle in their own strength and they failed!
c. Again, here is an area where we could all use help.
d. We try to live the Christian life, fight the flesh and the devil in our own power and we fail time after time.
e. The reason? We do not take the time to strengthen our walk with God!
f. When we are walking with the Lord and in His Word as we should be, He will go with us into the battle and face our enemies on our behalf.
g. Who killed the giant, David or God?
1Sa 17:47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands.
3. Finally, Israel had their confidence in their own power and not in the Lord.
a. They were not walking by faith, but they were guilty of trusting what they could do.
b. How many times have we suffered defeat at the hands of our enemy because we too believed we were able and that we could get the job done.
c. Well, the bottom line is this: I can't do the job and neither can you!
d. We all need the Lord is we are to walk in spiritual victory in our lives.
Joh 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
C. They Were Clueless v5b
1. "…wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water."
2. After their terrible defeat at the hands of Ai, the people of Israel are feeling the same fear that their enemies experienced!
3. This is one of the problems with sin.
4. It defeats us and leaves us feeling just like a lost man.
5. Nothing is right in the life of a believer while there is sin in his midst!
6. Israel didn't know at this point what was wrong.
7. All they knew was that they had just suffered their first defeat.
8. Thankfully, God wants His people to have the victory, not the defeat.
9. So, He takes the necessary steps to reveal to the nation of Israel just exactly where the problem lies.
II. A Painful Discovery v6-15
A. Joshua Reacts In Prayer v6-9
1. After the tragedy happens, Joshua finds himself before the Lord in prayer.
2. His prayer is from a broken heart, v. 6.
3. However, there is also a hint of anger and accusation against the Lord.
4. Joshua is going to learn that prayer is the correct recourse in a time of trouble, but that prayer will avail nothing until sin has been dealt with.
Ps 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
5. When there is a tragedy in our lives, we need to look within and see where the problem is.
B. God Rehearses The Problem v10-15
1. While Joshua and Israel try to figure out what is happening, God in Heaven already knows and tells Joshua all about it.
2. He tells him that there is sin in the camp of Israel!
3. He tells Joshua that it is this sin that is hindering His power and it is what is bringing about their defeat.
4. He tells Joshua how to discover the guilty party.
5. In these words to Joshua, God gives us some insights into sin, of which we need to take note.
a. God knows about our sins - v11
b. God hates our sins - v11
c. God has a plan for our sins v14-15
d. God will punish our sins v15
e. Sin affects those around us - v. 11-12
f. Sin hinders God's work - v. 12
g. Sin must be dealt with - v. 13
III. A Painful Death v16-26
A. The Sinner Discovered v16-18
1. God chose to use this process to point out Achan as the one who was guilty.
2. Why didn't God just tell Joshua who they were looking for?
3. I don't know, perhaps He was giving Achan additional time to repent and confess.
4. As Joshua obeyed the Lord, one by one the men of Israel were taken and eventually they came to Achan.
5. The lesson in this for each of us is this: God already knows our sin, and it will be found out.
6. We may try to hide and cover it up, but it will be found out!
Nu 32:23b "…Behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.
B. The Sin Discussed v19-21
1. The Compassion v19
a. When Joshua speaks to Achan, he speaks with love in his heart.
b. He knows that Achan is condemned, but Joshua still cares for this man who brought so much trouble to Israel.
c. While God hates sin with His entire being, He still loves the sinner!
2. The Confession v20-21
a. Achan confessed his sins after he got caught.
b. This is not God's method for handling sin!
c. God's way is for a man to be open and honest about the sin in his life and for him to confess those things to the Lord.
Pr 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
d. God's way is for His people to throw the covers off their sins and tell God the truth that He already knows.
e. He can bless a person who handles sin the Biblical way.
f. But the person who tries to hide his sins will never prosper.
g. Note that in v21. Achan calls the things he took "spoils".
h. However, these things were not "spoils".
i. God said in 6:18-19 that these things were His.
j. Achan was guilty of stealing from the Lord.
k. Achan had things buried in his tent that he could not use!
l. So Achan sinned and died for nothing!
m. The things he stole were no good to him at all!)
C. The Sinner Destroyed v22-26
1. These verses give us the sad conclusion to this tragic tale.
2. Achan and all that he had were taken out and stoned to death by the people of Israel.
3. It didn't have to end this way!
I. A Painful Defeat
II. A Painful Discovery
III. A Painful Death
A hard lesson to be learned! "The wages of sin is death…" God's attitude toward sin hasn't changed.
Ga 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
We may have ourselves convinced that we can get involved with sin and not have to suffer the consequences, but that simply isn't true! What a sad account following such a wonderful victory. But that is the way it is. When we disobey God's commands, we bring upon ourselves and others the judgment of God. How much better to obey Him, and follow His Word.