THEME: The Sin Uncovered
This week’s lessons show the consequences of Achan’s sin upon the nation of Israel, and how in the midst of God’s judgment, grace and blessing are offered.
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.” Then the story goes on, and I think as I read it that this is the most frightening part of all because it has to do with all things being brought to light. It’s the exposure of the sin. So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent. Inside they found the things Achan had stolen.
They took the things from the tent, and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. They spread them out before the Lord. Hebrews 4:13 says, “All things are naked and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” This is what happened in the case of Achan. In the tumult of the conquest he thought, “Well, I can take these and nobody will know. I’ll hide them in my robe, slip off to my tent, and bury them in the sand. Later, when everything’s quiet, I’ll come back and dig them up.” Nobody in Israel saw what he was doing. But God saw. And God brought it to light.
It may be in your life and mine that there are times just like that, times when we do what we ought not to do. We know we shouldn’t do it. Certainly Achan knew he shouldn’t have taken those things. He knew it was wrong, which is why he hid them from everyone. But our sin is never hidden to God. God does not turn his back on sin; He brings it to light. We need to know that so that we might confess that sin before it brings about the death of which the Apostle James speaks. Well, it brought about Achan’s death. When the stolen things were brought to light, we’re told that Joshua with all of Israel took Achan and his family and brought them to this valley, which later became the Valley of Achor, named after the incident. Joshua said to him, “You’ve brought disaster on us. Now God is going to bring disaster on you.” We’re told that they stoned him there. Judgment was meted out in order that the sin might be purged from the people and the blessing of God might return.
There’s a point at which Francis Schaeffer speaks of another of the great continuities that we find in the book of Joshua. Joshua, as I said at the beginning of these studies, is a bridge book. It’s a bridge from the early days of the patriarchs in the desert wandering to the years of settlement in the land. It’s a bridge between preparation and possession. And as a bridge book, it contains these great continuities. One is the written Word of God, which existed there in the desert as Moses wrote it down, and which Joshua used as they entered the land. The second great continuity is the supernatural power of God. It was with Moses and it was also with Joshua in the conquest. The third great continuity was the presence of the supernatural leader. God had led Moses in a supernatural way, and God was also present in the form of the commander of the hosts of the Lord to guide and bless Joshua. A fourth great continuity is the covenant. And here in this story of Achan’s sin is the fifth continuity of judgment. There is a simple sequence in all this: where there is sin, judgment follows; where there is obedience, blessing follows. It is always that way. As Francis Schaeffer explains it:
This simple, yet profound, process explains all the rest of the Old Testament. It explains the period of the judges, the period of the kings, the captivity under Assyria and Babylon, the Jews’ return from Babylon, and the Jews’ dispersion in A.D. 70 under Titus. It explains Romans 9 to 11, which speaks of the Jews’ turning away from God, and yet at a future date, coming back to God and, once more as a nation, being the people of God. First comes blessing, then sin enters, then comes judgment. If the people of God return to Him after the judgment, the blessing begins again and flows on.
What does Dr. Boice conclude is the most frightening part of this story?
From the lesson, what is the fifth continuity in the book of Joshua? What are the other four that we have seen before in our studies?
REFLECTION: What caused Achan to forget the simple fact that God most certainly saw his sin, and would act in judgment? In what ways do we do the same?