Further Thoughts on Achan (Joshua Chapter 7)
Seriousness of Sin
“Herem”: “the exclusion of an object from the use or abuse of man and its irrevocable surrender to God.”
Translation: “If it’s God’s, it ain’t yours.”
Joshua Chapter 7 is one of my all time favorite passages in the Bible. Yes, I am strange. It is one of my favorite passages because it presents a black and white world view and moral structure that I find appealing. This passage highlights God’s designation of Jericho as “Herem” and one person’s dismissal of that claim. God claimed all of Jericho as His and the Israelites were to leave it all for Him. They did not. He, Achan, did not. The end result was chaos and death. There was sin in the camp and it produced death for others. This passage shows the seriousness of sin.
Our initial reaction to that is that this situation is completely unfair. God allows the People of Israel to lose in battle to Ai because of one person’s sin. Is that true? Yes. God removed His hand of protection because one person dismissed His claim on devoted things in Jericho. Is that true? Yes. That is completely unfair! No.
It is not unfair because God is the author of fairness, not us. It is not unfair because we do not understand the seriousness of sin. You and I sin and we think it is no big deal. We excuse “little white lies.” We watch what TV show we want and dismiss it as not being a big deal. We sin and then think we will just ask for forgiveness later. We sin secretly and think it won’t influence our family, church, or spouse at all. We are wrong on all counts.
Seriousness of Sin
Sin is a big deal. Dismissing God is a big deal. Sin not only infects us, but it leaks out to those around us and infiltrates their lives. Sin always always always leads to death. That was true in the Garden of Eden and it was true in the Israelite camp after Jericho.
As you read this section on Joshua, note that Achan took the way of lies and untruth and hiding and that path led to death. God presents in Joshua a way of life based on truth which does work. Achan’s way didn’t work. Achan’s way didn’t work in God’s system. God’s system is based on obedience, righteousness, goodness, and holiness. Achan did the opposite and everyone paid… he, his family, and his nation.