Dave Burnette's Commentary

Joshua Chapter 7

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Joshua 
Date Penned: (1406-1370 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel in the Promised Land (c 1-24)
Theme: Conquering the Promised Land (c 5-12)
Message: Achan's Sin of Disobedience (v 1-26)

Joshua 7 Commentary

(7:1) The Sin of Achan - Notice the results of Achan's sin: (1) Many men died (7:5); (2) Israel's army melted in fear (7:5); (3) Joshua questioned God (7:7-9); (4) God threatened to withdraw his presence from the people (7:12); and (5) Achan and his family had to be destroyed (7:24-26). On the other hand, when the Israelites eliminated the sin from their community, these were the results: (1) God's encouragement (8:1); (2) God's presence in battle (8:1); (3) God's guidance and promise of victory (8:2); and (4) God's permission to keep the plunder and livestock from the battle for themselves (8:2). Throughout Israel's history, blessings came when the people got rid of their sin. You will also experience blessings when you turn from your sin and follow God's plan wholeheartedly.

(7:1-5) The Accursed Thing - The "accursed thing" included the clothing, cattle, and other plunder that God had said the Israelites should destroy when they conquered Jericho (see 6:17-19). It was not that Achan had found a good use for something that was going to be thrown out anyway. What he had done was a serious offense because it was in direct defiance of an explicit command of God (see Deuteronomy 20:16-18).

(7-6) Defeat at Ai - Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing and put dust on their heads as signs of deep mourning before God. They were confused by their defeat at the small city of Ai after the spectacular Jericho victory, so they went before God in deep humility and sorrow to receive his instructions. When our lives fall apart, we also should turn to God for direction and help. Like Joshua and the elders, we should humble ourselves so that we will be able to hear God's words.

(7:7-9) A Failure to Pray - When the Israelites first went against Ai, they did not consult God but trusted their military strength to bring victory (7:2 3). Only after Israel was defeated did they turn to God and ask what had happened. Joshua had experienced his first setback. Now what would he do? Instead of jumping to plan B, he did what he should have done in the first place--he prayed.

Too often our first move is to rely on our own skills and strength, especially when the task before us seems easy. We go to God only when the obstacles seem too great. However, only God knows what lies ahead. He may want us to learn lessons, lay down our pride, or consult others before he will work through us. We are best off when we talk things over thoroughly with God before moving forward. Going to him, even when we are on a winning streak or when details seem insignificant, may save us from making grave mistakes or misjudgments.

(7:7-9) Earnest Prayer - Imagine praying this way to God. This is not a formal church prayer; it is the prayer of a man who is distraught and confused by what is happening around him. Joshua poured out his real thoughts and emotions to God. Hiding our needs from God is ignoring the only one who can really help us. God welcomes our honest prayers and wants us to express our true feelings to him. We can become more honest in prayer by remembering that God is all knowing and all-powerful and that his love for us never ends.

(7:10-12) Our Sin Affects Others - Why did Achan's sin bring judgment on the entire nation? Although it was one man's failure, God saw it as national disobedience to a national law. God needed the entire nation to be committed to the job they had agreed to do-conquer the land. Thus, when one person failed, everyone failed. If Achan's sin went unpunished, unlimited looting could break out. Idols might be taken as plunder. The nation as a whole had to take responsibility for preventing this undisciplined disobedience. Achan's sin was not merely his keeping some of the captured plunder (something God allowed in some cases) but rather his disobedience to God's explicit command to destroy everything connected with Jericho. Achan's sin was indifference to the evil and idolatry of the city, not just the desire for money and clothes. God would not protect Israel's army again until the sin was removed and the people returned to obeying him without reservation. God is not content with our doing what is right some of the time. He wants our hearts turned toward him all the time. We are under his orders to eliminate any thoughts, practices, or possessions that hinder our devotion to him.

(7-13) A Purification Ceremony - "Sanctify yourselves" meant that the Israelites were to undergo a purification ceremony like the one mentioned in 3:5 when they were preparing to cross the Jordan River. Such practices prepared the people to enter into God's presence and routinely reminded them of their sinfulness and his holiness.

(7:24-26) Achan Underestimates His Sin - Achan underestimated God and disobeyed his commands (6:18). Taking a garment and some silver and gold may have seemed a small thing to Achan, but the effects of his sin were tragic for the entire nation, especially his family. Like Achan's, our actions affect more people than just ourselves. Watch out for the temptation to rationalize your sins by saying they are too small or too personal to hurt anyone but you.

(7:24-26) Sin Has Consequences - Why did Achan's entire family pay for his sin? The biblical record does not tell us if they were accomplices to his crime, but in the ancient world, the family was treated as a whole. Achan, as the head of his family, was like a tribal chief. If he prospered, the family prospered with him. If he suffered, so did they. Many Israelites had already died in battle because of Achan's sin. Now he and his descendants were to be completely eut off from Israel. Achan's entire family was stoned along with him so that no trace of the sin would remain in Israel. In our permissive and individualistic culture we have a hard time understanding such a decree, but in ancient cultures communal punishment was common. The punishment fit the crime: Achan had disobeyed God's command to destroy everything in Jericho; thus, everything that belonged to Achan had to be destroyed. Sin has drastic consequences, so we should take drastic measures to avoid it.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Sin in the Camp

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Joshua with Chapter 7 and we see Israel coming off the victory in Jericho to go to a much smaller threat in Ai. The presence of God was missing and they found themselves being defeated. The reason for the defeat was the sin of Achan as he was hiding spoils in his tent which God told Israel not to do. This sin of Achan caused the presence of God to leave Israel. In making application we see the reality of sin in our lives will cause the power and presence of God to be absent in our lives. The story reminds me of a time early in my marriage where I knew to tithe but felt I couldn't due to our finances being so tight. What I found is the "sin in my life" kept the power and presence of God from my business an finances. Once I repented and paid my tithe I had my phone start ringing with business. It showed me the application of the day that sin hinders the blessings of God in my life. How about you? Do you have known sin in your life? Let us learn from today's text and repent and keep sin out of our life so the power of God can flow in our lives.


Joshua 7

Joshua 7

 1But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.

 2And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.

 3And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.

 4So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.

 5And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.

 6And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.

 7And Joshua said, Alas, O LORD God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!

 8O LORD, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!

 9For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

 10And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?

 11Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.

 12Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.

 13Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.

 14In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man.

 15And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.

 16So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken:

 17And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken:

 18And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.

 19And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.

 20And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:

 21When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

 22So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.

 23And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD.

 24And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.

 25And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

 26And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.