As we walk in the spiritual footsteps of ancient Israel, there is much that we can learn from their story. One such lesson is that of Achan’s blunder.
Israel had crossed over the Jordan and was about to overtake Jericho. The command came from Joshua to the people saying: “By all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord” (Joshua 6:18–19). Jericho was defeated by a miraculous supernatural demonstration of God’s power.
The people’s spirits were high because they knew God was on their side. Shortly after this their confident leader Joshua set his sights on Ai, only sending a fraction of his army. And why shouldn’t he? He just witnessed a total victory without even lifting a finger. Yet, the Israelites were easily defeated by the small city.
So Joshua fell on his face before the Lord and begged for an explanation for this disaster. The Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff” (Joshua 7:10, 11).
Tribe by tribe, then family by family were brought before the Lord until there was only one man left: Achan. You see Achan had completely disregarded the command that God gave to not take anything. Seduced by his desire for worldly treasures, Achan didn’t believe the words of God and took the Babylonian garment along with gold and silver. If he truly believed that God meant what He said by taking the accursed things that “all Israel would be troubled,” then he would have thought twice about his actions.
Achan’s little decision cost the lives of many innocent soldiers that went up to the city of Ai to overtake it and eventually cost him his life and his family’s lives as well.
How often do we make a similar blunder? God has given us plenty of crystal clear commands, yet we willingly choose to ignore them in spite of the consequences that we know are real. Time and time again, we have witnessed God miraculously defeating the giants in our lives yet all too often we think we can get away with things He has told us specifically not to do.
The call is the same for us today as it was for the ancient Israel. “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who watches his way preserves his life” (Proverbs 16:17). For we know it is written in Galatians 5 that “the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
I’m sure we can all identify with one or more of the items on this list. These are the ways of the world. The character of Babylon. To which we are told that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But yet how many of us are still seduced by them like Achan who desired the garment of Babylon. Do you desire the character of the world or the pure robe of Christ’s righteousness?
Reading further in Galatians 5 the Bible says in verses 22 to 25: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Learn to listen to the Word of God, to believe the consequences are real, and follow the divine instructions.
This article was written by Scotty Mayer and Keith Detwieler, originally published in the winter 2017 of Impressions, It Is Written’s quarterly magazine