1. He thought he was so clever.
2. As he packed his
suitcase there in his hotel room in
3. The animals were
rare and would fetch a lot of money back in Europe, more than paying for his
entire vacation in
4. But it was illegal
to transport them outside of
5. What would earn him even more money were the tiny exotic bird eggs he’d purchased.
a. Like the reptiles, it was illegal to take them outside the country, but he just couldn’t resist.
b. The eggs were too fragile to put in the suitcase,
c. So he put them in a sock & placed them in his shorts.
6. And there they
stayed, safe & warm until he arrived back in
7. Standing in line at Customs, the eggs hatched, & the baby birds began to cry loudly.
8. Customs agents escorted him to an interrogation room where he & his luggage were searched.
9. The prohibited animals were found, and he was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to prison.
1. This guy discovered
the truth of what Moses said in
“Be sure your sin will find you out.”
2. And it’s a truth that is amply demonstrated in our study today . . .
2. The mighty fortress
3. God had given the
command that as the first fruits of their victories
4. Not a single thing was to be kept by the people as spoils of battle. It was all to be offered as a burnt offering.
children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for
Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe
of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of
1. This guy Achan, alone of all the people, defied the command of God and secretly snagged some of the treasure.
2. But notice how v. 1
labels Achan’s rebellion – as a trespass “the children of
3. Achan isn’t seen as just an individual – he is a member of the covenant community.
4. What he does, has consequences for others.
2Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, “Go up and spy out the country.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. 3And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few.”
1. Ai was a small city
a short distance west of
2. It guarded the main
road that led from
3. This was the route
Joshua would take to drive a wedge through
4. “Ai” means “Heap;” a fitting name for this outpost, set on a small hill above the road.
6. The scouts returned to Joshua with a report saying that Ai would be easy pickings.
7. After the great
victory they’d just witnessed at mighty
4So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. 5And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.
8. Not a man had been
lost in the conquest of
9. If the people had
been joyous & confident in the victory at
10. Now they’re terrified!
know word will quickly go out to the other Canaanite cities that
b. Her army ran away like scared children.
Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of
the Lord until evening, he
and the elders of
1. The leaders realized the danger they were now in.
2. This was a tragic turn of events that left them utterly confused.
3. So they threw themselves on the ground before the ark in desperation.
said, “Alas, Lord GOD, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at
all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had
been content, and dwelt on the other side of the
4. Joshua expressed his confusion and concern to God.
5. He knew God had
promised him he would lead the nation in the victorious conquest of
6. But the defeat at Ai went contrary to what God had said.
8. Do you get confused?
a. Are there times in your walk with God when things don’t seem to be lining up with what you know is God’s will & what His word says?
b. Are there times of fear, when danger is imminent & God seems vacant?
9. We all go through such seasons of testing – when our circumstances seem to defy the Word & Will of God.
10. When confusion and fear loom before us, we need to do what Joshua did – Fall on our faces before the Lord and humbly seek Him.
11. We ought to be honest in expressing our confusion – not blaming God, but admitting our need He come and make things right.
the Lord said to Joshua:
“Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? 11Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My
covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed
things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it
among their own stuff. 12Therefore
the children of
1. God gave Joshua a gentle rebuke.
2. In his confusion
& fear, Joshua had assumed that
3. But Joshua ought to have known better – God cannot fail.
4. So, if
5. That’s what he
learns – someone had violated the prohibition of taking loot from
6. This loot had weakened the nation so she couldn’t stand in battle, no matter how many she sent against Ai.
7. God told Joshua –
8. Then He told Joshua how to deal with it.
a. The next day they were to cast lots over the people,
b. And God would reveal the guilty one.
c. [to v. 16]
rose early in the morning and brought Israel by their tribes, and the tribe of
1. When I read this, I wonder: Why didn’t Achan just step forward & confess?
the first lot fell to the tribe of
b. when the next lot singled out his clan –
c. and the next fell to his family, why didn’t he come forward?
2. Then I remember - Sin makes you stupid.
3. People think they can hide their sin; that they can get away with it.
Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned?
a. Commenting on this, the great preacher Charles Spurgeon said,
b. “Coals of fire cannot be concealed beneath the most sumptuous apparel, they will betray themselves with smoke and flame. Neither can pet sins be long hidden beneath the [boldest] profession of faith; they will sooner or later discover themselves, and burn sad holes in a person's reputation. Sin needs quenching in the Savior's blood, not concealing under the garb of religion.”
6. That man who
smuggled those exotic bird eggs into
7. He couldn’t - because it’s the nature of sin to be revealed.
8. Truth may be obscured for a time, but it cannot be ultimately denied.
9. As Paul says in
10. What might have happened if Achan had stepped forward & confessed his sin, as soon as the report of the defeat at Ai had come to the camp at Gilgal?
a. Knowing the mercy of God, I have to believe he would have been forgiven.
b. Certainly there would have been consequences for his disobedience, there always are,
c. But God has shown Himself to be patient & forgiving of those who genuinely repentant.
11. But Achan didn’t come forward. He didn’t confess. He stood there acting innocent until the lot fell to him.
Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession
to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from
me.” 20And Achan answered
Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: 21When I saw among the spoils a beautiful
Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing
fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the
earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.” 22So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran
to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver under
it. 23And they took them
from the midst of the tent, brought them to Joshua and to all the children of
1. Now that the game
is up, Achan admitted he snatched some of the forbidden things of
moving through the city he saw a sumptuous garment from
b. He stumbled on a treasure of gold & silver.
c. All of this he packed up and put in a hiding place in his tent in the camp at Gilgal.
2. Achan admitted that when he saw this stuff, he coveted it.
a. He couldn’t help himself.
b. His desire for loot overwhelmed his better sense & he snagged it.
3. This is curious! Just what benefit did Achan think he would gain from this stuff?
a. He couldn’t use it – others would find out he’d taken it.
b. What did his secret sin do for him?
4. Was his admission of sin a genuine confession?
a. He uses the right words – V. 20
“Indeed I have sinned against
the Lord God of
b. Folks, this isn’t a heartfelt confession–
c. It’s an admission but not a confession of what he’s done.
d. It only comes after he’s backed into a corner & can’t duck the truth any longer.
e. If his confession had been sincere, he would have stepped forward earlier, not only after there was no way to deny the truth.
5. It’s been my sad experience over the years to see people do what Achan does here.
a. They’re caught up in some secret sin & never step forward to confess & repent of it.
experience the truth of
c. And they reluctantly admit to it, but only to what everyone already knows.
d. They say the right words, admitting they’ve sinned,
e. But they try to shift the responsibility for their sin onto others.
1) The thief blames the store for not putting anti-theft devices on the package.
2) The burglar blames the homeowner for not putting locks on his windows.
3) The adulterer blames the spouse for not being for loving.
4) The liar blames their victim for being gullible & trusting.
f. They admit their sin, but always coupled with a “but . . .”
g. “Yes, I sinned, but . . .”
6. That’s what Achan does here.
a. Though it’s not brought out in the translation to English,
b. The original carries the subtle idea that Achan is saying he couldn’t help himself.
c. Notice he didn’t just say, “I sinned & took some loot.”
d. He said, “Here’s what happened – let me explain: When I saw the spoils, I coveted them and took them.”
e. In other words – “I couldn’t help myself!”
f. And the implication is – “So you can’t really blame me or hold me responsible.”
7. Again, if Achan had been genuinely repentant, he would have come forward with his confession before being singled out.
Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the
garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his
sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of [Trouble]
Achor. 25And Joshua
said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord
will trouble you this day.” So all
1. Everything that belonged to Achan, including his family, was taken to a valley near there and stoned to death, then they set the whole thing on fire.
2. Why was Achan’s family made to suffer along with him?
a. Well, were did they find the loot? In his tent, where the family lived.
b. They all knew about it and had said nothing. They became co-conspirators in his crime. His sin became theirs.
3. Achan’s sin affected & polluted his family.
4. His evil influence
as the head of the home brought those under his roof into danger, a danger that
was realized in the
1. Achan teaches us some crucial lessons about secret sin.
2. First, the sin that is secret today, is public tomorrow.
c. Secret sin on Earth is Open scandal in Heaven.
1) We may be able to hide our sin from the eyes of other for a time.
2) But God sees, and He loves us too much to let our sin remain secret where it eats at our soul.
d. I say it again, Secret sin on Earth is Open scandal in Heaven.
e. And sin that is kept secret on Earth, will BECOME an Open scandal there as well.
3. Second, secret sin harms others.
a. The one who harbors some secret sin thinks no one will get hurt.But that isn’t true – ask Achan.
b. Ask anyone who’s had an affair.
1) A guy is tempted to begin a tryst, & conscience warns him of the consequences if he’s discovered.
2) He says to himself, “Well, If I get caught, I’ll just take my lumps.”
3) But it isn’t just he who’ll suffer.
a) His wife will suffer, His kids will pay.
b) His friends will hurt.
c) His business associates will suffer.
c. And if he’s a Christian, the reputation of the Church will be tarnished.
e. Don’t forget that all this began when 3 dozen men died.
1) Achan’s seemingly secret, little sin – caused 36 families to lose husbands, fathers, & sons.
2) Think of how many millions were imperiled by Achan’s lone act of moral foolishness!
3) Joshua and the leaders recognized the danger – and threw themselves down before the Lord in desperation.
None of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.
1) WE find this in the midst of a passage which says we are all part of the same family.
2) We have an obligation to not only look out for ourselves but for one another.
3) The quality of my spiritual life affects you & yours has an impact on me.
g. The lie that fosters secret sin is that no one will get hurt.
1) But others are hurt – even while the sin is secret.
2) Because that sin is eating holes in the sinner’s soul, changing them, marking them with spiritual poison.
3) That poison damages all a person’s relationships.
1. We began with
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2. Achan teaches us the truth of the first part of that – the wages of sin is death.
3. But the cross teaches us that while our sin has earned death, God loves us & sent His Son to take our place in judgment.
5. The name Achan means “Troubler”
6. Achor, the place where he was executed means “Trouble”
7. The troubler met
his end in the
8. For generations after this Valley stood as a memorial to the trouble secret sin brings the People of God.
9. But in
I will give her her vineyards from there, And the
10. God promised He
would turn the
12. Is there something you’ve been hiding, some sin that has you “achin’”?
13. Don’t wait till it exposes you, expose it to the light of the Spirit & find forgiveness in Jesus.
14. [To lost]