But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan . . . took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel. Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai . . . and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” . . . When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. . . . So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. . . . At this, the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. . . . The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned . . . They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies . . . because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” Joshua 7:1-12.
The LORD was about to bless His children with a land flowing with milk and honey. Jericho was the first city. The treasures of Jericho were to be devoted to God. But Achan was a greedy man. He stole what belonged to God and put the entire army of Israel in grave danger. Thirty-six men lost their lives because of his greed. Joshua and the elders fell on their faces before God all day long in fasting and prayer, but God was not impressed. He simply told them to get up from their faces and deal with the sin in the camp!
There are many lessons here:
First, it is a sin to take what belongs to God. God has blessed us with all we need to make life comfortable. Do not take the money, the time or anything that belongs to God and use it on yourself. Whatever you do, give God what rightly belongs to Him. Don’t allow greed to prevent you from giving God His portion. Give God the portion of your Time, Talents, and Treasures that belong to Him. Stealing from God as Achan did is not worth it. It turns expected victory into unexpected shocking defeat just as the Israelites experienced.
Second: Prayer can never replace repentance and obedience. God was not impressed with Joshua’s fasting and praying all day long. He simply asked him to get up and deal with their sin.
When God points out sin in our lives, we must pay attention, repent and deal with it. Ignoring it regardless of how much we pray, will never bring us victory. We will only struggle endlessly.
Third, sin in our lives makes us liable to destruction. Sin ties the hand of God from fulfilling His promises in our lives. Sin opens the door for the enemy to enter and defeat us. That is what happened when thirty-six Israeli soldiers lost their lives. We must deal with every known sin. Until we deal with sin, we will not experience the true Presence of God.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to be totally faithful in giving to you whatever is rightfully yours.
Help me to avoid the sin of greed. Help me to deal with every known sin in my life. Amen.