It’s a Bible story which doesn’t end well. At least with me.
Today’s lecture is being given by a man whose sinful greed and punishment for that offense has a sobering warning for all of us. The culprit’s name was Achan and his parents both died in the wilderness after failing to believe God’s promise of giving them the Promised Land. Achan and his generation were now given the chance to possess the land.
After crossing the Jordan River, God revealed his power as they marched around the walls of the heavily fortified city of Jericho. After obeying God’s instructions, they saw their God destroy Jericho without their military’s involvement.
The next battle is against Ai… a pushover, requiring far less soldiers for the battle. It’s like like a 16-1 basketball team playing a team that hasn’t won a game since 1953! The spies told Joshua they needed only part of their forces; there were just too few people to fuss over.
God had given very specific directions for this fight and cautioned them with these guidelines: “But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.” Joshua 6:18,19 NIV
When God says something, we’d’d best pay attention. But one man didn’t obey. Just one man out of the three thousand Israelis who marched on Ai. His selfish desires brought a terrible fear on all of his fellow-countrymen. He did not foresee the outcomes his disobedience would produce!
Here’s the lesson: NO ONE SINS ONLY TO HIMSELF OR HERSELF. Our selfishness, greed, lust, pride… all of it brings about consequences to those around us. Tragically the most harm comes to those we love. Israel lost 36 soldiers and Israel stoned and buried Achan and his family in what came to be called “The Valley of Trouble.” But repentance brought about forgiveness and God’s grace outran Israel’s sin. God promised them, “I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” Hosea 2:15 NLT
Obedience and righteousness are still important to God. Don’t treat his grace cheaply and don’t presume upon it. Obedience is always better than sacrifice. (I Samuel 15:22)