Sin at Ai
March 5 - Nº 64 Joshua 7
Before the Israelites conquered the city of Jericho, Joshua made it clear that all of the silver, gold, bronze, and iron items they found were to be devoted to God’s Tabernacle. He said, “Keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring destruction on yourself or on the camp of Israel” (see Joshua 6:18). However, one of the soldiers saw a bag of silver coins, a bar of gold, and a beautiful coat, and he wanted them. He took them back to his tent, dug a hole and hid them. Although no one else witnessed his sin, God did! After the victory at Jericho, Joshua sent some spies to scout out a small city nearby called Ai. They reported back that since there were only a few people in the city, Joshua did not need to deploy the whole army. They suggested that he send only two or three thousand men to take it. Without consulting God, Joshua dispatched about 3,000 soldiers.
However, to their surprise, the men of Ai fought back fiercely and won the battle, killing 36 Hebrew soldiers and forcing the whole army to retreat. This caused great fear and concern in the Israelite camp. Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown before the Ark of God, remaining there until evening. The elders joined him and put dust on their heads to demonstrate their helplessness and grief. Joshua questioned God, “Why did you bring us across the river? The Canaanites will hear about this defeat. They will surround us and wipe our name from the earth. Then what will happen to Your own great name?” God told Joshua, “Stand up! Israel lost because they disobeyed me. They have stolen things that belonged to me, lied about it, and hidden them among their own possessions. As long as you have these things in your camp, I am separated from you and you will lose every battle.” Israel had experienced God’s incredible strength at Jericho. But now, at Ai, they had exposed their utter weakness without Him. God gave Joshua specific instructions for finding the person responsible for bringing sin into the camp. The next morning, Joshua followed God’s instructions. He had all the Israelites come stand before him. Then each tribe passed in front of him. God pointed out which tribe was the one involved. Then each clan from that tribe walked past him, and the Lord selected one of them. Then each family from that clan and finally, each man. Achan was selected! When confronted, he finally admitted his sin. He had seen some things he wanted. He had coveted them. Then he had taken them. And, instead of confessing his sin and seeking forgiveness, he had kept it hidden. His secret sin had severe consequences! Joshua had the items removed from Achan’s tent. Then the Israelites gathered everything that belonged to him. All that he owned was burned, and he and his family were killed. God’s severe warning was designed to protect the new nation from future sin and to allow them to enjoy His blessings.
Do you realize that nothing you do or say is hidden from God? That no sin can be kept secret? That sin separates us from God’s blessing and power? These realizations can keep us from deliberately disobeying and can prompt us to seek His forgiveness.