| One Man's Sin
C: In this lesson, we are going to talk about how one man's sin ruined his life, and his family's life. We are going to talk about Achan, who fought in the battle for Jericho.
1. One Man's Sin Brings Defeat for All
1 But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things ; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord's anger burned against Israel.
2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, "Go up and spy out the region." So the men went up and spied out Ai.
3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, "Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there."
4 So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai,
5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water.
C: Achan secretly took some of the valuable items he found in Jericho, and instead of dedicating them to God, he kept them for himself and his family (v.1). Joshua had reminded the people not to steal just before the walls fell down. He thought no one saw him. But God saw him. When we secretly sin, we think that no one knows. But God knows. And Joshua did not know. So when he sent men out to the city of Ai to spy out the land, they thought, "no problem, we'll easily defeat this city" (v.3). But when the battle began, the Israelites were routed by the people of Ai (v.5), and their hearts melted in fear.
C: When we succeed, it is easy to get overconfident. We overlook the sin in the lives of our own disciples. Joshua did not know about Achan's sin. But he could see the defeat of God's people. He could see his men lying dead on the field. We must realise that when we sin, the church will not be blessed by God. He can see us!
2. Don't Pray When You Should Repent
6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads.
7 And Joshua said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!
8 O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies?
9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?"
10 The LORD said to Joshua, "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?
11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.
12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
C: When Joshua saw the defeat, he was convicted. He fell facedown before God, and started to pray (v.7). But God gave an interesting answer to his prayer.
Q: What did he say in verse 10? ["What are you doing down on your face?"]
C: God was upset about Israel's sins. Prayer was not needed. Repentance was needed! This is amazing. God wanted Joshua to deal with the sin, not to pray. God said, "I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction" (v.12).
C: We can see clearly here that God is upset when we sin. Sometimes this is the problem in our lives. We beg God over and over, "Give me a job" or "Make me fruitful" or "Get me a husband." But our lives are full of sin, so God doesn't listen to us. Let us think about our life.
Q: Is there some sin you've been holding on to?
C: The time has come to let it go. Don't pray when you should repent instead.
3. Remove the Sin From Among You
13 "Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.
14 "'In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe that the LORD takes shall come forward clan by clan; the clan that the LORD takes shall come forward family by family; and the family that the LORD takes shall come forward man by man.
15 He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel!'"
C: Go told Joshua to organise the people tribe by tribe. He told them that he would reveal who had taken the devoted things. He promised that the man who had sinned would be destroyed by fire (v.15). God said that this was a "disgraceful thing in Israel."
C: In the same way, when we study with people, God wants us to find out about their sins, and then help them to remove it completely from their lives. We cannot compromise with sin. If someone has a girlfriend or boyfriend, they must break up. If they have a job where they are forced to sin, they must give it up. Sin cannot be negotiated with. Sin is like a terrorist. It must be removed completely from our lives, or it will destroy us. If you see sin in this group, in your family, or in your own life, do not tolerate it. Do not rationalise it, trying to explain why it is "OK." Instead, remove it! You'll be much happier, and much purer in God's sight.
4. Don't Wait for Interrogation Confess Your Sins
16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken.
17 The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken.
18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.
19 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me."
20 Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done:
21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath."
C: Out of all the tribes, Achan was chosen (v.18). Now he could not hide anymore. Earlier, he could have admitted his sin, and repented of it. But now many Israelites had died, and it was too late. Joshua asked him to confess his sins, and he did (v.20). He admitted that he had stolen a beautiful robe, and some silver and gold. He stole them and hid them (v.21).
C: Achan confessed his sins, and he was punished. But when we confess our sins, we are forgiven, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Q: Have you been honest about your sins and temptations, or are you hiding them? If someone has to drag a confession out of us, that is not good. God wants us to freely confess our sins. Don't wait until it is too late.
5. Get Rid of the Trouble
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath.
23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD.
24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor.
25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today." Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them.
26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.
C: Joshua looked for the hidden treasure, and there it was under Achan's tent. His family knew about it, too, because they must have seen Achan hiding it. The people took Achan, and they stoned him and his family to death. Of course, today, we do not kill the sinners amongst us. But we must make sure that we are hard-line about sin. One sinner can destroy and even kill many others, and lead them to many sins. God wants us to get rid of the trouble in the church. They stoned him in the Valley of Achor, which means the "Valley of Trouble."
Q: Think about your life. Are you radical with sin, getting rid of the trouble in your life and ministry? Or do you tolerate it? Let's love each other enough to help each other repent, before sin destroys our lives.
One man's sin affected the whole community. Each of us must try with all our hearts to be pure before God. We must never try to be greedy for our own gain, but think of God's kingdom.