Based on Biblical Text: Joshua 7:1 NIV
But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, 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.
Let me provide a little background before moving forward.
God gave Joshua specific instructions before the Israelites invaded Jericho. God told the Israelites that every living thing was to be put to death, and all the “stuff” belonging to the people of Jericho was to be dedicated to the Lord’s treasury. He was absolutely clear that none of the Israelite soldiers were to keep any of the spoils. Joshua, the leader, knew it would not be a good idea to question God and His plans. Therefore, he gave the specific instructions to everybody. However, everyone obeyed God but Achan. Achan sinned and took some of the wealth for himself.
The truth is many of us might even sympathize with Achan. After all, he risked his life fighting hard like everyone else. This was Achan’s chance to get ahead. He could pocket a little “change.” Finally, something tangible for his devotion to Joshua. Why not get something out of the deal, right?
Well, the problem with Achan taking some of Jericho’s wealth is that it was an act of disobedience. God’s strict requirement was obedience, and what He got from Brother Achan was clearly disobedience. Lamentably, disobedience is a sin we are all too familiar with.
Far too often we allow the pursuit of something tangible to cloud our judgment. The truth of the matter is we often let our pursuit of “stuff” keep us from being obedient. In many instances, it is our desire to accumulate “stuff” that causes us to take our focus off God. We hear God say, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house.” However, we squander our tithes gathering more “stuff” at the mall, and we short-change God on Sunday. My point is, it is like Achan’s sin of disobediently keeping the spoils of battle when our “stuff” becomes our god.
I’ve learned over the course of my ministry folk do not like when the pastor talks about money. Believe you me, I don’t make it a habit. So, then, let me make it clear that our “stuff” does not have to be money or even a pile of tangible objects. No, Beloved, our “stuff” can be a frat or lodge meeting, a social gathering, a football, baseball or basketball game, or even a chance to get in some more hours at work so we can buy some more “stuff.” In other words, our “stuff” is anything that takes our eyes, our minds, our focus, and our heart off of God.
Our God is everywhere, knows everything, and sees everything. This one soldier did not escape God’s notice. God saw Achan’s sin when he took some of the ‘devoted things’ that belonged to God, and God’s anger was kindled, not just against Achan, but against all Israel. We need to understand that it only takes one!
Achan did not seem to care that his actions got everybody else in trouble. It did not appear that he gave much thought to the fact that his disobedience was going to cost Joshua his next victory. I make this point to warn us as we are inclined to point the finger of blame at Achan. Let us first take a look at ourselves. It is a fact that we are selfish by nature. We are in fact selfish enough to believe our actions only affect us. Most of us don’t stop to think about the effect our actions have on others. I contend that in many instances we just don’t care. We think, “It’s my life, and I’ll do what I want.” The preacher in me has to say, “I know I’m right about it.”
The truth of the matter is, our disobedient actions don’t just hurt us, they hurt others around us. Our text does not say that only Achan would suffer for his disobedience. It says, “but the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel.”
The fact is that God has rules for a reason. God’s rules are meant to help our carnal flesh keep its focus. Can you imagine what the kingdom of God would look like if all of us who profess to be God’s children obeyed His rules! God’s church bank accounts would be full, and God’s houses would be full.