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Joshua 7:1-26


Intro: Israel has just been involved in a great military conquest. They witnessed the amazing defeat of the city of Jericho. They marched around a city thirteen times over six days, they shouted, the blew their trumpets, and the city walls fell flat. They conquered Jericho without firing a shot! They are still basking in the glow of that great event. They are sure that they are unbeatable. They are certain that every obstacle in their path will be moved out of their way.


Verse 1, however, reveals the truth that God is upset with Israel. 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. The word ďbutĒ in verse 1 signals a change of fortunes for Israel. Up until now they had been blessed and used greatly of the Lord, but now things have changed! They thought they were unstoppable, but what they did not know was that there was a serious problem in their midst. There was one man among them who was causing a problem for the entire family of God.


The same scenario is still possible today. We are all members of one body, 1 Cor. 12:27. We all know that when one member of the body has problems, the entire body suffers with it.


The same thing is true in the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:26. Your spiritual temperature has a profound effect on the entire body of Christ. You are not an island unto yourself. What you do affects the entire church body. We will see this truth illustrated in this passage today.


My desire in preaching this message is that we would examine our hearts and our lives. If there is anything in any of us that we think we have hidden away; anything that we think is covered, I want us to get that issue settled with the Lord before we leave here today. We can and this passage tells us how.


The fact is, there are some things you just canít hide. If you eat raw onions or garlic, others will know about. If you stop bathing or using deodorant, you wonít hide that for long. If you eat Cheetos, your orange fingertips will give you away. If you try to hide sin in your life, your secret will eventually get out, because your sin will affect you and all those around you. Ill. Num. 32:23b, ď...and be sure your sin will find you out.Ē Ill. Psa. 90:8, ďThou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.Ē


We might not want to admit it, but we all know that sin causes problems. It causes problems for the one sinning and it causes problems for everyone around them. Itís like throwing a pebble into a pond. Ill. Song 2:15


Most of us are just like Achan from time to time. We allow sin into our lives; we try to hide those sins; and we try to cover them up. When we do, we bring pain and trouble into our lives. These verses teach us that Some Things Canít Be Hidden. Notice with me the truths revealed in these verses.



A. v. 2-3 Israel Was A Determined People –Israel was still basking in their victory at Jericho when they looked toward Ai. They were certain that a little town like Ai would be no problem for such a great army. Israel was a confident people, but a closer look reveals that their confidence was misplaced. In verse 3, they believe that just a few soldiers are needed to secure a victory in little Ai. Israel was guilty of resting in their past successes.


Ill. Israel did not realize it, but they were living through one of the most dangerous times of life. The time just after a great spiritual victory is a dangerous time. Often, like Israel, we will be overconfident and believe that we can handle any battle that comes our way, Pro. 16:18. When we believe like that, we are about to suffer our greatest defeat.


Ill. Confidence is a good thing as long as oneís confidence is in the right place. When we are walking with our hope and our confidence in the Lord, we will be victorious; but when our confidence is in our ability and in the power of our flesh, then we are destined to fail, 1 Cor. 10:12!


B. v. 3-5a Israel Was A Defeated People – When Israel went up to Ai they suffered a terrible defeat and 36 of their number were killed. This must have been devastating to the Israelites. Ill. The ramifications of this defeat. Because there was sin in the camp, thirty-six men died. Thirty-six sets of children lost their fathers. Thirty-six mothers lost their sons. Thirty-six wives became widows. It was a very high price to pay for sin.


      When we take the time to look more closely at their actions, it is easy to see that they made several mistakes.

1.  Nowhere in this passage does it even hint that Joshua and the people of Israel sought the will of God for dealing with Ai. They didnít even pray about the matter. If they had, God would have revealed the problem before people died.


Ill. How many times are we guilty of jumping ahead of the Lord and His will? We will rush headlong into life and expect the Lord to bail us out of the messes we make. It is far better to consult God before we make the mistake than it is to expect Him to clean up the mess afterwards.


2.  They didnít take the Ark of the Covenant into the battle. The Ark symbolized the presence and power of God. They went into the battle in their own strength, without the power of God, and they failed!


Ill. Here is an area where we could all use help. We try to live the Christian life, fight the flesh and the devil in our own power and we fail time after time. The reason? We do not take the time to strengthen our walk with God!


When we are walking with the Lord and in His Word as we should be, we can be confident in the battles of life and face our enemies in the strength of God. We fall when we fail to utilize the whole armor of God, Eph. 6:10-18.


Ill. Who killed the giant, David or God? David himself answers that question in 1 Sam. 17:47.


3.  Israel had their confidence in their own power and not in the Lord. They were not walking by faith, but they were guilty of trusting what they could do.


Ill. How many times have we suffered defeat because we believed we could take care of matters ourselves. We canít do the job! We all need the Lord if we would enjoy spiritual victory in our lives, Phil. 4:13; John 15:5.


4.  Israel was not willing to put everything they had into the job they were called to do. In verse 3, the spies who went to Ai returned and said, ď...make not all the people to labour thither...Ē The city of Ai was located at about 1,700 feet above sea level. Their camp in Gilgal was located at about 800 feet below sea level. It would have been a climb of some 2,500 feet. It would have been a very tiring climb. The people of Israel could not se the point in all the fighting men having to work so hard. They did not see the task at hand as being worth the effort it would require!


      Ill. When we start looking for ways to get out of our responsibilities before the Lord, we are headed for trouble. He is worth every ounce of our effort. Ill. Gal. 6:9


C.  v. 5b Israel Was A Distressed People – After their terrible defeat at the hands of Ai, the people of Israel are feeling the same fear their enemies experienced, Josh. 2:9; 5:1; 6:1. This is one of the major problems with sin. It defeats you and leaves you feeling broken, used and confused. Nothing is right in the life of a believer while there is sin in his heart!


Ill. Have you ever had a time like this in your spiritual life? I have and most of the time, they result from allowing other things to displace God in my life.


  I.  Israel Experienced A Terrible Slaughter



Ill. Israel didnít know what was wrong. All they knew was that they had just suffered their first defeat. By the way, this would be their only defeat!


God wants His people to have the victory, not the defeat. So, He takes the necessary steps to reveal to the nation of Israel just exactly where the problem lies.


A.  v. 6-9  Joshuaís Amazement – After this tragedy occurs, Joshua finds himself before the Lord in prayer. His prayer is from a broken heart, v. 6. Still, there is also a hint of anger and accusation against the Lord. Joshua is going to learn that prayer is the correct recourse in a time of trouble. He will also learn that prayer will avail nothing until sin has been dealt with, Psa. 66:18; James 5:16b!


Joshua wonders why Israel was powerless in the battle. The answer would not be found in blaming God, or in disputing His will. The answer would be found in their own hearts!


Ill. After we have made decisions that bring terrible consequences, itís too late to play the blame game. Itís never the right time to accuse God of anything. Ill. This has been going on since the beginning – Gen. 3:9-13.


When there is a tragedy in our lives, we need to look within and see where the problem is. When there is a lack of power in my life, the problem is not with God, nor is it with others, the problem is always with me!


The same is true in the church. When there is powerlessness in the church and souls arenít being saved; when the services are dull and lifeless, we need not blame the Lord! He is doing His part. The problem is always a problem within!


B. v. 10-15 Godís Announcement - While Joshua and Israel try to figure out what is happening, God in Heaven already knows and reveals it to Joshua. He tells him that there is sin in the camp of Israel! He tells Joshua that this sin why He is withholding His power and allowing them to be defeated, v. 12. He tells Joshua how to discover the guilty party.


In these words to Joshua, God gives us some insights into sin. We need to pay attention to what God has to say in these verses. Allow me to share with you a few observations concerning sin and its effects in our lives.

1.  God Knows About Our Sins - v. 11Pro. 15:3; Heb. 4:13 – We arenít hiding anything from Him!

2.  God hates our sinsv. 11Pro. 6:16-19 – It offends Him and He will not simply look the other way!

3.  God has a plan for our sinsv. 14-15Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9; Psa. 32:5 – He wants us to get honest about our condition. He expects confession and repentance.

4. God will punish our sinsv. 15Gal. 6:7-8 – There is always a price to pay for rebellion and disobedience!

5.  Sin always affects those around usv. 11-12 – No one sins in a vacuum. Your sins and mine have the ability to drastically lower the spiritual temperature of the church. We are all one body and what affects you affects me and vice versa! Ill. Eccl. 9:18, ď...one sinner destroyeth much good

6.  Sin hinders Godís work both in our lives and in His churchv. 12Matt. 13:58 – When we allow sin to rule in our hearts, God will not move among us in freedom and power.

7.  Sin will be dealt withv. 13 – Either you and I will deal with our sins, or God will deal with them. Either way, they will be handled! – 1 Cor. 11:31


Ill. Itís not the water on the outside of the boat that causes the problem; itís the water on the inside of the boat that causes trouble! The same is true for the church. Often, the greatest problems faced by the church come from within and not from without. The world and the devil really canít do a lot of damage to the church, but you let someone inside the church get out of line with God and there is a problem!


More often than not, when there are defeats, problems, and trouble down at the house of God, you can bet that there is someone in the church who is out of Godís will! When there is a lack of the manifest presence and power of God in the church, it can usually be traced to some sin in the body! There is an infection and it needs to be identified and treated before there will ever be a return of Godís power and glory!


Ill. If a business suffers too many losses, it closes its doors. If a company suffers too many losses, it lays off employees. When a church suffers too many losses, people go to Hell! We must have Godís power if we are going to see any spiritual successes! If we are going to have His power, we must be a clean people!


We should never underestimate the amount of damage one sinner can cause.

ē  Abraham nearly lost his wife when he went to Egypt, Gen. 12.

ē  The boat Jonah was riding in nearly sunk when he ran away from God in disobedience, Jonah 1.

ē  Seventy thousand people died in Israel because David disobeyed God by numbering the people, 2 Sam. 24.

ē  One sinner nearly destroyed the church at Corinth, 1 Cor. 5.


You might think your sin is insignificant, but it can ruin your church and sap it of its power. It can devastate your family and leave totally ruin in its wake. It can destroy your life and leave you broken and defeated! Ill. Eccl. 9:18.


No Christian can sin without affecting other Christians or even lost sinners. You can't grow cold without lowering the temperature of those around you. The testimony of the church is reflected in the lives of every believer in the church.


  I.  Israel Endured A Terrible Slaughter

 II.  Israel Encountered A Terrible Summons


A.  v. 16-21  The Sinner Is Confronted – Ill. The process that God used to point out Achan. God knew who was guilty, why didnít He just tell Joshua who they were looking for? In my opinion, He was giving Achan time to repent and to confess his sins. Achan squandered many opportunities to confess and repent. Be that as it may, the finger of God was getting closer and closer and finally landed on Achan.


Ill. This lesson needs to be heeded! God already knows your sins and His finger is getting closer and closer to your life. One day soon, He will point out those things in your life that need to be revealed! It is only a matter of time until the finger of God lands on your life and you are exposed in your sins! It will not and cannot be hidden forever! One day, your sin will find you out - Num. 32:23; Luke 12:3. You may try, but you cannot hide your sin, Eccl. 12:14; Jer. 16:17; Heb. 4:13!


Ill. v. 19-21 – Now that Achanís sin has been revealed, it has to be dealt with. Notice the two aspects of this section.

1.  v. 19  There Is Compassion – When Joshua speaks to Achan, he speaks with compassion in his heart. He knows that Achan is condemned, but Joshua still cares for this man who brought so much trouble to Israel.


Ill. In this passage, Joshua is a picture of the Lord. While God hates sin with His entire being, He still loves the sinner. Even though man is the enemy of God, God still commands men to repent and to come to Him for salvation and for forgiveness.


If you have sin in your life today, you need to remember that God is a loving and gracious God Who exhibits His greatness by cleansing sinners. You need to come to Him before it is too late!


2.  v. 20-21  There Is Confession – In these two verses, Achan finally confesses his sin. Achan showed no signs of remorse or repentance. He only confessed his sins after he got caught in them. At this point, it would have been impossible to hide them any longer anyway.


Ill. Achan is like some others in the Bible who confessed their sins, but not in real repentance - Pharaoh, Balaam, Judas.


Ill. Some confessed their sins and were forgiven. Ill. David – He was confronted with his sins, he confessed afterwards and he was forgiven, 2 Sam. 12. So did Nineveh, Jonah 3.


Whatís the difference? David and Nineveh were sincere in their repentance. They was sorry for their sins. Achan was only sorry that he got caught!


Ill. This is not Godís method for handling sin! Godís way is for people to be open and honest about their sins and for them to confess those sins to the Lord, Pro. 28:13. Godís way is for His people to throw the covers off their sins and tell Him the truth that He already knows. He can bless a person who handles sin the Biblical way.


However, the person who tries to hide his sins will never prosper, but will face God in judgment. You see, you will confess you sins one way or another. You can confess them where the confession will make a difference, or you will do it when you face the Lord in judgment. Either way, you will confess your sins - Phil. 2:11.


Ill. Note the progression in Achanís sin, v. 21. ďI saw...I coveted...I took.Ē This is the same pattern that sin always follows. It was this way in the Garden of Eden, Gen. 3:1-6. It was this way when David sinned with Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:1-4. It is and will be this way in nearly any instance of sin you can name.


Notice the progression that the Bible mentions - James 1:13-15. You see it; it appeals to your flesh; you want it and you take it. Sin is always the same! Ill. Our reaction to sin should be just like that of Joseph, Gen. 39:12. We are commanded to flee youthful lusts, 2 Tim. 2:22.


Ill. Another problem with Achan is found in v. 21. Achan calls the things he took ďspoilsĒ. This word refers to ďthe bootyĒ that a conquering army can claim after a victory. These things were not spoils. God said in Josh. 6:18-19 that these things belonged to Him. They were not to be gifts for Israel; they were to be placed in the treasury of the Lordís house. God calls the items in Jericho ďthe accursed thingJosh. 6:18-19. This phrase refers to that which is ďdevoted or dedicated.Ē In other words, all the items left in Jericho after the defeat of the city, were to be dedicated to the Lord. They were to be His and His alone. In essence, Achan was guilty of stealing from the Lord. He claimed the ďfirstfruitsĒ and Achan tried to steal it. Are you guilty of stealing from the Lord? Mal. 3:8.


Ill. Achan had his stolen treasure buried in his tent but he could not use any of it! To use it would have exposed his sin to everyone. In other words, Achan sinned and died for nothing! The items he stole were no good to him at all!


Hereís the truly sad part of this story. Achan lost his life and condemned his family to death because he took things that were dedicated to the Lord for his own use. Imagine how he must have justified his choice to take those things. He might have said, ďWe did without so long in that desert. I deserve a little prosperity. No one will miss this little amount. After all, there is so much spoil. Iíll just take a few things to help my family.Ē Those few items cost Achan everything!


Had Achan been patient for just a few more days, he could have satisfied his needs and his greeds, Josh. 8:2.


This is where we all get into trouble. We want what we want, and we want it now. We never stop to think that God might have something far better for if we would just patiently wait for His timing.


This just reminds us what sin really is. Sin is man seeking to fulfill a legitimate need in an illegitimate manner.


B.  v. 22-26  The Sinner Is Condemned – These verses give us the sad conclusion to this tragic tale. Achan and all that he had were taken out and stoned to death by the people of Israel.


      Ill. The tower of stones stood as a reminder to all who passed by that a criminal was buried there. It was common as late as the 1800Ďs for passersby to throw stones on the graves of criminals, thus adding continually to the heap of stones over the grave!


      It didnít have to end this way! Yet, these verses demonstrate the horrible end that all sinners who refuse to repent will come to. By the way, that heap of stones stood as a warning to everyone who passed that way. It was a vivid reminder of the high cost of sin and of the terrible wrath of God.


      Ill. The name of the valley was called ďAchorĒ. This word means ďtroubleĒ. And that was what God said would happen to the person who took any of the ďspoilsĒ of Jericho. The word ďtroubleĒ means, ďto stir up.Ē It speaks of ďthe troubling of waters.Ē If you are going to sin, you need to know that you are headed for trouble, Pro. 13:15.


Ill. If you are Godís child, and you have sin in your life that has not been confessed, and that you have not repented of, you need to know that you life is a hindrance to your family and to this church. You also need to know that God will chasten you to bring you back in line with His will, Rev. 3:19. He will do whatever He has to do to get your attention! My advice to you is: get right with God today! God knows what it will take to touch your heart, and He isnít afraid to touch that heartstring if He knows it will bring you to repentance.


Ill. If you are lost today, you need to come to Jesus for salvation. If you die without Him you will wind up in Hell, lost forever and in the flames of torment. Is that what you want? Is that where you want to end up? If not, then come to Jesus.


Ill. You will notice that verses 24-25 tell us that Achanís whole family suffered the same fate that he did. Why?  They probably knew about his sin and they helped him hide his secret. They were just as guilty as he was. When Achan brought that sin into his tent, he brought suffering and affliction upon the people he loved the post in this world. At the end of the day, however, the reason Achan did this was because he loved himself even more than he loved his family.


I would just remind you again, that none of us sins in a vacuum. The things we do affects us and all those around us. Our children are shaped by the things they observe in our lives. That is the essence of Deut. 5:9, which says, ď...I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.Ē


Conc: Years later, the prophet Hosea mentioned this same valley. Ill. Hosea 2:15, ďAnd I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.Ē The promise is that this place of trouble could become a door of hope. It will be when Israel returns to the Promised Land during the reign of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.


The same is true concerning us. If we will come to the Lord in humble repentance, those sins, that have the potential to cause you so much trouble, can be taken care of today. This service can literally become a door of hope for you right now, if you will come to Jesus for the cleansing you need.


Some Things Canít Be Hidden! If you have an Achan heart, God has the cure. If you have sin hidden in your life, the Lord can forgive you and restore you for His glory.


Come to Him while there is time. Come before judgment falls. Come so that renewal and revival can come to your family and to your church!

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