The Israelites had just had an awesome, stupendous, glorious, unheard of victory … the walls of Jericho falling down without a shot being fired! WOW! God had given explicit instructions how to go against the city and they obeyed. Personally I think the greatest victory here was that they marched around the city without saying a word, once a day for six days and then on the seventh day marching seven times! But then they were men … maybe that explains it! 🙂
Sin is not always apparent at first. It can be hidden for a time and we think no one else knows but it WILL be revealed.
Maybe the Israelites got a little cocky, self-assured, over confident with their victory at Jericho and now Joshua sends spies to assess the next battlefield … the city of Ai. The spies come back with their report … it’s small, we can take it, in fact it will be easy so we don’t even need to send all the troops perhaps just a small detachment of men.
Surprise! The Israelites went to battle thinking they were going to be victorious and they were soundly defeated so much so that thirty-six of their men were killed and the Israelites fled and ran for home.
Defeated. Thirty-six of their men dead. Their hearts melted and became like water (Joshua 7:5). What happened?
Joshua gets the news and he and the elders fall on their face before God. Joshua gets mad at God and asks why He let this happen! Perhaps they all should have stayed on the other side of the Jordan. He complains to God that all the people around here are going to laugh and cut us down and then what will happen to Your great name? Interesting isn’t it how we want to blame God when bad things happen!!
God answers Joshua and tells him to GET UP, why are you bellyachin’? There is sin in the camp! Someone has stolen that which I commanded was not to be taken and has hidden it. God said He would not be with them anymore until they found the guilty party and administered justice! I guess we might think that is pretty severe but God wanted an obedient people!
God instructed Joshua how to find the guilty person. Joshua obeyed God’s instructions (and God gives us instructions in His Word how to weed out the sin in our lives!). Finally standing before Joshua was a man named Achan.
Joshua to Achan: What have you done? Do not hide it from me.
Now I will have to give credit to Achan at this point. He did not blame anyone else. He didn’t say, “I didn’t hear you … I didn’t get the memo … i was eating lunch …” no, he confessed his sin to Joshua. He admitted that he saw the goods, he coveted them, took them and hid them in his tent.
What is keeping us from full fellowship with God? Is there a hidden sin that we think no one knows about? That sin MUST be dealt with and eradicated. Could it be sexual sin, pornography, lies, cheating, finances, sour relationships?
Joshua was in a hurry to rid Israel of this hidden sin because he sent his messengers and they RAN to Achan’s tent, found the hidden treasure, brought it back to Joshua and laid it out before the Lord.
There are consequences to our sin. Achan and his family suffered those consequences. Let me say here that we are not to go out and stone and kill those that are involved in sin but when the sin is revealed it is to be killed! Confess, repent, bury it and heap stones upon it!
The disobedience was grievous to God and that place was given the name “Valley of Achor” … Achor meaning “trouble” … the Valley of Trouble.
Not a good legacy!
We may think that we can never rise above our sin. That we are doomed to stay low and live in the pits but God does have a plan of HOPE!
In Hosea 2 we read of God’s unfaithful people. Time and time again the Israelites had turned their back on God but He continually pursued them even when they went after other lovers. In verse 14 we read how God still went after them … and He comes after us! “Therefore, behold, I will allure her. Will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope …”
THERE IS HOPE!
Correction and discipline is never fun … it’s always painful! Serious issues require surgery! A cutting away of that which is infecting our spiritual growth. Just as we discipline our children so God disciplines us when there is sin … why? because He LOVES us! He does not want us to wallow in our valley of trouble and think there is no way we can rise above this. When our sin is identified, don’t try to rationalize it, deal with it and bury it! When you have done that you can begin to walk through that door of hope that God is offering you. Satan will tell you that you have no hope but he is a liar!
God is a LOVING Father. God is a FORGIVING Father. God offers HOPE when confession and repentance is sincere.
After Achan’s sin was dealt with here is what God said in Joshua 8:1, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.” And herein lies their door of hope, their obedience brought victory.
Isaiah 65:10 also shows us that our Valley of Achor/Trouble can become a place of peace and rest … “And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for My people who have sought Me.”
Psalm 119:81, “I HOPE in thy word.” Romans 4:18, speaking of Abraham but a word for us as well, “Who against hope, BELIEVED IN HOPE”