Friday, October 19, 2012

The Consequences of Achan’s Sin

Joshua 7:19-26

“And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.” (Joshua 7:19)

Though they knew some things had been stolen, and that it was Achan who had taken them, they still didn’t know any details, or even what had been taken.  God had clearly revealed that the Achan was the guilty party.  Joshua Asked achan not to try to imply God was lying, but to admit he was right, to give him the glory or credit for being right.

“And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” (Joshua 7:20-21)

After forty years in the wilderness, seeing God’s power and knowledge demonstrated repeatedly, Achan knew his chances of successfully lying and getting by with it were nonexistent, and confessed what he had done.  He did not deny his sin as so many today do, implying God is a liar.  I John 1:10 states, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  By denying their guilt, they blaspheme God.

The biggest reason people lie about their sin is because they think there is a possibility they might get by with it.  Under the American legal system, there is a great deal of incentive to lie because there is good chance of getting off with little or no penalty even if the evidence is incontrovertible.

Achan had taken an imported Babylonian suit, worth several thousand dollars, two hundred shekels or about one hundred ounces of silver, worth over three thousand dollars, and fifty shekels, or twenty five ounces of gold worth about forty two thousand dollars.  While it sounds like  lot, it would have weighed only about eight pounds and would make a very small bundle.  Seeing them, on the spur of the moment, Achan coveted and took them, hiding them in hole under the carpet in his tent, with the silver on the bottom to protect the suit from the dirt.  It was not a premeditated theft.

“So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.  And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. 

And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. 

 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.  And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.” (Joshua 7:22-26)

Finding the stolen items further confirmed Achan’s guilt and everything he owned, as well as his family were taken and executed in the valley which would be called Achor or troubling because his actions had caused Israel trouble, resulting in their defeat at Ai.

While it may seem cruel to execute his family for Achan’s sin, his theft had caused thirty six families to lose an innocent member of their families.   He was only suffering the same loss he had inflicted on others.  It was his action that caused their deaths.  Today we think it unfair that families of criminals often suffer for his crime, but we need to realize it was his actions, not society’s that caused the problem.


  1. I like how you correlate Achan's sin with 1st John. Like David, when confronted with his sin Achan did not pretend nothing was amiss; at that point it would have been foolish. In this respect he honored God, even though he sinned, more than many Christians today.

    1. Thanks, Ian.

      I agree with your assessment that those who refuse to acknowledge their sin even when confronted with God's word dishonor God.