I. Chapter six ends with a look at God’s favor towards Joshua as well as towards Rahab and her family for their faith in God.
- Q: How does chapter seven begin?
- Q: What is the difference b/n a sin in the general sense and a trespass?
- Q: In what way did Achan commit a “trespass” and not a “sin” per se against the Lord (6:17-19)?
- Unintentional sin and ignorance Numbers 15:22-24; Luke 12:47-48; 2 Peter 2:20-21
II. Starting in verse two, Joshua gives the command to spy out the neighboring land. The Israelites return with a favorable report. They think that they can take Ai because they out number them. Once they attack Ai about 1% of the Israelites are killed and the rest of the camp retreats.
- Q: What is Joshua’s response to this defeat?
- Q: Who does Joshua blame for this defeat?
- Q: Why do you think, like Joshua, people are so quick to blame God when things do not work out the way they envisioned them?
III. In this section God answers Joshua with a rebuke and gives him instructions about how to deal with the problem.
- Q: What reason(s) does God give as to why the Israelites lost the battle (vss 11-12a)?
- Q: Not only had the Israelites sinned against God by taking the accursed (devoted to destruction) thing and therefore lost the battle against Ai, but how exactly did this sin affect them (v 12b)?
- See Romans 6:15-16; John 8:34-35
IV. God tells Joshua to sanctify the people and for the people to sanctify themselves. He tells them basically that if they want to ever win another fight that they must separate themselves from the sin that they have committed and again be joined to God. This is the message for us today. If we want success in this life we have to separate ourselves from ungodliness and stand on God’s side in righteousness and holiness.
V. God is done talking. Now, Joshua must follow the instructions that he was given; which he does. Joshua separates the Israelites by tribe, family, household and finally by individuals. Now, Joshua asks Achan to confess his sin against the Lord. Achan admits his offense against God.
- Q: What is the progression of Achan’s sin (v 21)?
- I saw
- I coveted
- I took
- You can search all through the Bible and find this pattern in the sins that people have committed. It begins with a simple and sometimes innocent observation which can turn into a desire which can turn into action which is sin when all of these elements are completed.
- See James 1:14-15.
VI. This section of chapter seven is probably the most difficult to grasp and understand. In this section we are left to question the justice as well as the mercy of God. As we read this passage it seems to state that the sin of Achan caused God to command the death of everything and everyone connected to Achan. As I have said before, the main thing that we are to take away from this is that “no man is an island.” God deals with the one for the good of the whole.
- Q: Did Achan’s family die also?
- Two things to make note of here.
- If the family of Achan is killed along with Achan, I believe that they must have been involved in the sin somehow. We aren’t exactly told what their sin is, but they must have been accomplices.
- Here is why. God makes it very clear that each individual is to be held responsible for their own sin (Dt. 24:16; Jer. 31:29-30; Ezek. 18:20).
- See Ex. 34:7; Dt. 5:9; See also Gal. 6:1-5
- See 1 Peter 4:15-17
VII. I believe that a very important part of this chapter is the fact that “no man is an island.” As Christians we are each one connected to the other and therefore we benefit or lack based upon the actions of each other. Often in the Bible you will find that God deals with the one for the good of the whole. So then, it is unfair to say that our actions only hurt us because as a body of Believers joined together in Christ we affect one another. This can be seen in how Rahab’s family was spared because she trusted God and did what was pleasing to Him as well as by the disgraceful actions and blatant disregard for God that Achan showed. As you live out your Christian faith be sure that you remember that your actions represent Jesus to the world.