Joshua: Achan’s Sin Against God

Joshua 7:1-26

In the public library, a man with his new library
card questioned the pretty librarian. “Do you mean to say, ” he asked, “that with this card I may take out any book I want?”

“Yes, ” she answered. “And may I take out record albums, too?” “Yes, you may.” “May I take you out?” he ventured.

Drawing herself up to her full height, she replied,
“The librarians, sir, are for reference only.”

Last week we talked about the famous battle of Jericho.
We saw God do the unexpected by giving the city into the
hands of Israel without a fight. They simply had to obey
His command to march around the city one time for 6
days and then 7 times on the 7th day.
But before that happened God was very clear in His
instructions about how they should handle the items
found in the city. He declared them under the ban.

They were consecrated for destruction or for God’s use.
They belonged to God and no Israelite was to keep
anything from the city.

Today we are going to see Israel’s defeat at Ai.
Let’s begin with prayer.

Now, let’s take a look at the first verse;

Joshua 7:1

Back in the first chapter of Joshua God speaks to Joshua
telling him that since Moses is dead, he is the new leader
of the nation of Israel. He lets Joshua know that He will
lead them across the Jordan and into the promised land.

All along the way God has directed Joshua and Joshua
has followed His instructions.

Until now, look at how chapter 7 starts off, but the sons
of Israel acted unfaithfully…

We have an advantage as we read this chapter because
we know that Achan is the one who acted in
disobedience. Joshua has no idea what has happened or
what is about to happen.

We see that the Lord is upset with Israel and His anger is
burning against them. We will see how His anger plays
out as the chapter unfolds.

And if you think of the context, Joshua is coming off a
huge victory, thinking of what he will do next, but forgets
the most crucial part of leadership, prayer.

Joshua 7:2-5

Joshua’s False Sense of Security

He doesn’t consult God, but rather he sends out 2 spies
to scout out the city of Ai. They return with a good report
that the city is very small and doesn’t have a large

Ai was only about 12-15 miles from Gilal but it was a
severe uphill trek. Gilgal was 900 ft below sea level and
Ai was 2600 ft above sea level. Imagine the steep incline
they must have had to walk the entire way.

The other thing that Joshua was missing in this battle
was the ark of the Lord. God was not with them during
the battle, because He didn’t advise them to go. They
went on their own accord in their own strength. That is
why the Bible says the people fled from the men of Ai
and the hearts of the people melted and became as
What a stark contrast from the first chapter of Joshua
when God told them to be strong and courageous?!

36 Israelites lost their lives in that battle because of the
sin of one man.

Joshua 7:6-9

Joshua Prays after his Defeat

Joshua begins by behaving as someone who is mourning
would, tearing his clothes, placing dust on his head and
bowing before the ark of the Lord.

His prayer is similar to Moses’ prayer after coming out of
Egypt. Why did you bring us here God? To die?
The problem isn’t with God, it’s all because of the
disobedience of one man, Achan.

Listen to how God responds to Joshua’s prayer.

Joshua 7:10-15

God Calls Joshua to Action

God tells Joshua to rise up twice in these verses.
First, He tells him to get up from his position of mourning
so He can explain why they lost the battle at Ai.

God goes on to explain that Israel had broken God’s
covenant that he gave them. He told them back in 6:18
not to covet or keep anything they gained from Jericho, it
all belonged to the Lord.

Verse 11 is very telling. Notice all the verbs he uses to
describe Achan’s disobedience:

Ripple Effect of Sin

God explains that He won’t continue to be with Israel
until they destroy the items under the ban. Until then
they won’t be able to stand against their enemies.
Some people believe their sin only impacts them, but
that couldn’t be further from the truth. 36 people died
because of Achan’s sin.

One commentator wrote this, “Achan robbed the whole nation of the purity and holiness which it ought to possess before God.”

Then God tells Joshua to Rise up and consecrate the
We talked about the word consecrate back in chapter 3
when Joshua told the people to consecrate themselves
because God was going to do wonders the next day.

It means to set apart for holy use.
It’s about being ready for God to work and being ready to
hear His voice and follow His instructions.

God to Reveal the Sinner by Lot

The practice of casting lots is used throughout the Bible.
We see examples in the OT and the NT.
Here God is going to use the lots to shed the light on the
one who has disobeyed Him. He is about to be exposed.

You may be wondering why God didn’t explain to Joshua
that Achan was the one responsible for taking the items
under the ban.
The process of narrowing it down by tribe and family and
household and man proves that no one can hide their sin
from God. It will always be found out.
It also gives Achan extra time to come forward on his
own and confess what he has done.

Joshua 7:16-23

The lot falls on Achan and Joshua urges him to confess.

Achan Confesses his Sin

There’s a distinct difference between confession and

Confession is to admit you have done something wrong.
You have been caught but you may continue to do it as
long as you think you won’t get caught.

Repentance means you feel remorse for what you have
done and commit to turn from that way of life.

Achan admits that he has sinned against the Lord by
taking the banned items. The truth is that only God
knows the heart of Achan. The Bible doesn’t speak to the
condition of his heart, only God knows our heart.

I found Achan’s answer interesting though.

He tells Joshua:

He saw the cloak and the silver and gold and
He coveted them
He took them
He hid them

Notice the correlation to the scene in Genesis 3
The woman saw that the tree was good for food
She took from its fruit and ate
She gave some to her husband
They hid themselves from the presence of God

Man always thinks he can hide his sin from God, but God
sees everything.
Psalm 90:8 “You have placed our iniquities before
You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence.”

John gets to the root of the issue in I John 2:15-17 “Do
not love the world nor the things in the world. If
anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is
not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of
the flesh and lust of the eyes and the boastful pride
of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
The word is passing away, and also its lusts; but
the one who does the will of God lives forever.”


Confess our sin and repent from it.

I John 1:8-9 “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving
ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our
sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Sin separates us from God
Let’s be in the habit of confessing our sin and following
God’s commandments.