We come now to Joshua 8, which recounts the victory of the Jewish armies over a little fortress high in the mountains that was known as Ai. If you know the book and have read ahead, you know that Joshua has 24 chapters. So the eighth chapter is a third of the way through the book, and yet, the people have only at this point reached the second city. Now there was a long time of preparation, both before and after they crossed the Jordan. There was also a delay in the last chapter, but it was because of a great failure on Israel’s part.

Up to this point, we have dealt largely with sin and judgment. Judgment is a grim note. It is not something that we want when we see it unfolding, especially unfolding on a member of the people of God. We are drawn up short because we recognize that we, too, sin. And judgment is something that must be reckoned with in our own lives. But the note on which I’d like to end is not a note of judgment but of hope. And the reason I want to end on the note of hope is that this is the way God Himself handles this story at a later portion of the Word of God.

Once the lot fell on Achan, Joshua pursued the matter: "My son, give glory to the Lord. Tell me what you have done. Do not hide it from me." Achan, exposed now before Joshua and the people as well as before God, did confess his sin. He said, “It's true. I’ve sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, 200 shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent with the silver underneath.”

Yesterday we looked at the first step in Achan’s sin, which was dissatisfaction with God. Today we look at the second and third steps.  The second is that sin progressed to the point of covetousness; that is, Achan began to desire that which was not his. Now according to the laws of war, the possessions of the conquered become the possessions of the conqueror. Achan was probably thinking along these lines. He was on the Lord’s side fighting with the armies of the people of Israel. He took part in the conquest. He must have said to himself, "Well, now, I’ve taken this town, and if I’ve taken this town then I’m the conqueror, and I can take what I want. At least I can take my share of it.

Not only do we learn that sin cannot be tolerated, but I think we learn something else, too. We learn something about the birth and progress of sin. It’s very seldom when we study the Bible and come across a chapter like this that talks about some great spiritual failure, or some sin on the part of an individual or nation, that we don't find at the same time suggestions as to how sin comes about. Sin very seldom just springs full-blown into our lives. Generally, there’s a process by which it first insinuates itself, and then is nurtured, grows, and eventually breaks forth in destruction. Certainly that is the case with this man, Achan.