The Battle of Ai, and Achan
Joshua 7:1 “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan the son of Carmi,….of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel.”
They had just come through the Jordan River at flood time, on dry ground; by a miracle of God.
They had their first convert to the God of Israel, in Rahab.
Then they fought their first battle at Jericho. By faith the walls came down, and they went in and won.
Now, a little proud, and self-confident, Joshua sends men to Ai, a small city close to Jericho, to spy it out. But he does not ask God what to do next. (Big mistake!)
They were to possess the land God had given them, so his thinking was right; but there was a problem within the ranks of Israel, which stopped all blessings to them, till it was dealt with.
Which he would have known, if he had asked.
When we begin to lean on our own understanding; then we are lighting our path with our own spark, expecting God to honor our own plans.
Joshua 7:5-6 “And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them before the gate…, wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.
And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the Ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel, put dust upon their heads.”
All of a sudden, coming before the Lord was very important!
But notice that the Lord makes Joshua wait. It was not till eventide, the time of the evening sacrifice, that Joshua’s prayer was answered.
Joshua 7:7-9 “And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast Thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!
O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!
For 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?”
Here is Joshua, before the Lord,…..complaining.
Why had He had brought them over Jordan?
Should they have been content to stay out of the Promised Land?
Did the Lord mean to kill them?
What would happen when the other cities that they were suppose to conquer hear about this defeat? Oh no, Oh no!
Joshua 7:10-12 “And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou upon thy face?
Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I have 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.
Therefore 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 anymore, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.”
(Joshua could have seen to this before going against Ai, if he had simply asked the Lord for guidance.
How often, our own self-confidence gets us into difficulties we never should have been in….but we did not wait for God’s direction.)
But the Lord paid no attention to Joshua’s whining.
No, He got right to the point: Get up off your face Joshua, and see to the problem.
I have brought you here, but I will not be with you in battle, till you see to the person who stole from the treasury devoted to My Tabernacle.
He stole it, and hid it in his stuff.
His family saw him, hiding it; yet said nothing.
Deal with it.
So he did as the Lord said:
Tribe by tribe came before the Tabernacle and the Lord showed the tribe of Judah.
Family by family of Judah came before the Lord, till at last Achan was shown to be the thief, his family knowing it.
Joshua 7:19-21 “And 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.
And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:
When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonian 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.”
Confession was made, but sadly it did no good. Men had died for his sin.
He had not confessed because of love to God, but because he was already found out.
Achan and the gold and the Babylonian garment, and the silver, and all that he had was to be killed. Notice, The Lord did not take back the gold, silver or garment…it was destroyed with the thief.
(I believe, if Achan had just repented sooner, taking the stolen stuff to Joshua, and the priest; he could have saved his family.
Lust of this world is a terrible thing.
Lust is: I want this, and I want it now. What ever “it” is.)
The wedge of gold represents opulent wealth.
The Babylonian garment represents vanity: how we look before others.
The silver represents spending money.
Each was a temptation.
And Achan found himself overcome by greed, and pride; instead of being in his place in the battle, and overcoming in faith.
After Joshua and Israel remove the accursed thing; They went on to win at Ai.
Joshua did not rely on his own judgement, but only did what the Lord said, and won.
Joshua 8:1-2 “And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given unto thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:
And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto to Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves:…”
The spoil from Jericho, their first battle, was to be given to the Lord completely.
(We should always put the Lord first)
But the spoil from the second battle: gold, cattle, silver, etc. was to be divided up between all Israel.
If Achan had only trusted God and waited; all that he stole, he could have had with blessing.
When we mistrust God, and begin to think that He is not giving us what we want; we need to remember:
He should always be first, for He loved us first (1 John 4:19)
And that when it is time, He will see to giving us everything, He has for us.