In Joshua7, Joshua fasted and prayed to the Lord after 3,000 men of Israel were defeated and chased back by the men of Ai. Before this, the people of Israel had been victorious.
So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai. The men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water.
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. – Joshua 7:4-6
Up to this point, Joshua and the people of Israel found themselves in a position that many of us are familiar with. We can easily go from being victorious to suddenly feeling like everything is falling apart. Maybe for years, you’ve been successful in everything you’ve worked on but you lose a major business deal and suddenly your business is falling apart. Maybe you’ve just gotten married, bought a house and you have a sudden health scare.
Even though God wants us to be victorious, we have free will and make choices that can impact our future. Did you have reservations about the business deal and took it anyway? Did you not take care of your body the way you should have? Did you pray before making choices in your life? It is easy to forget God’s role in our lives when we are feeling victorious. In fact, we sometimes think we’ve got it all figured out.
In Joshua 7, we learn of the sin of Achan, who stole from Jericho and violated God’s command. Achan’s sin went on to affect all of Israel.
Therefore, the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst. -Joshua 7:12
How have our sins affected those around us? How has it shamed our families or ruined our communities? This is a reminder that like Achan, we must deal with the consequences of our sins.
Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.” -Joshua 7:19-21
Achan confesses that he saw and took the treasure and he later is taken to the edge of the city and stoned along with his sons and daughters. Achan and his family face the harsh consequences of his sin but so did the nation of Israel. It is easy for one person to corrupt a nation and Achan’s story is a great example of this. We must all be mindful of how we impact those around us and recognize that we will face the consequences of our actions especially when we chose to disobey God’s commandments.