Achan. Not exactly a household name; you’ll soon understand why. His is a sad story we may shake our heads at. Yet if I’m honest, I likely would have died alongside him for the same reason.
Achan’s story begins on the heels of Israel’s victory over Jericho. Their next opponent was the undersized city of Ai. Based upon intelligence reports, Joshua sent only 3000 soldiers to deal with the small city. Yet Ai routed Israel – killing 36 Israeli soldiers in the process. As Joshua investigated why, God revealed to him that Israel lost because someone within the camp had disobeyed on the previous battlefield.
Specifically, when Israel leveled Jericho, the soldiers were instructed to give any recovered gold or silver to the priests for the treasury of God’s house (Joshua 6:24). As far as anyone knew, all had followed God’s instructions to the letter that day. It wasn’t until after the failure against Ai that the truth was revealed.
The next day, Joshua called forth the tribe of Judah, then the clan of the Zerahites. From them, the families of Zimri were called. Next, Karmi and his sons were selected. Finally, Achan stood alone before Joshua. Knowing the gig was up, Achan confessed:
It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. (Joshua 7:20-21)
Just like Eve in the garden, Achan saw something desirable, longed for it within his heart, and then reached out and took what was forbidden. As I admitted at the beginning, I may have done the same thing. I mean the bar of gold alone (over 20 ounces) was worth ~$28,000 today. Can you imagine the temptation? It would have been so easy to slip that small bar of gold into the ole’ pocket and walked on.
Achan knew the value of gold, but he grossly underestimated the cost of his coveting. Not only did he die for his disobedience, but so did his entire household, and the 36 soldiers mentioned earlier.
The cost of coveting is more than you’ll want to pay later – ask God to help you avoid it today! –Dave
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