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Joshua Chapter Seven, The Troubled Walk

In our study of Joshua chapter seven, we look at the fact that the Christian life involves dealing with the troubles caused by the flesh. As we saw in chapter 6, we are now talking about people that have entered the promised land and have a new life with God. That is a picture of the Christian walk in this world. Now, we will see that this is a difficult walk as the battle becomes one of facing the enemy within.

Joshua 7:1

But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord's anger burned against Israel.

When Israel defeated Jericho, the Lord told them that they were not to take any spoils from the battlefield. Here, we see that one man did not obey but the entire nation was held responsible. This is a picture of the fact that our walk, as Christians, reflects on the body of Christ as well as on Jesus.

Joshua 7:2 & 3

Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, 'Go up and spy out the region.' So the men went up and spied out Ai. When they returned to Joshua, they said, 'Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.'

Joshua sent men on ahead to check out the next battle site which was Ai. The spies returned and reported that it would not even really be a fight as only a part of the army of Israel would be needed for the victory. It is important to note that, at this point, nobody knew what Achan had done. This is a reminder to us, as Christians, that we need to be careful about who we choose to join in this walk of ours. This is what Paul was speaking about when he told the believers to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Achan did not believe God and so he took some of the forbidden things. The rest of the people did not know so they continued to allow him to be a part of them. They were yoked together and so were accountable for the other's actions.

Joshua 7:4 & 5

So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.

Now, we see that all of Israel had forgotten that it was God that gave them the victory over Jericho. They are now back to walking by the flesh and Joshua did not even consult God as to sending the men to Ai. Because of this, the Israelites were soundly defeated and, when the people found out, fear spread throughout the people.

Joshua 7:6

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads.

Joshua came to his senses and realized that they needed to repent and call on the Lord. He was joined by the other leaders of Israel and this is a reminder that true leaders can admit when they have failed. They had failed by following the flesh and what their eyes saw instead of the Lord.

Joshua 7:7-9

And Joshua said, 'Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?'

Joshua calls out to the Lord with a bunch of pious nonsense. He was right in connecting the fate of the people with the name of God but the rest of it was a "pity party" for them. He went so far as to question the action of God in bringing them into the land. That is what walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit will do to you.

Joshua 7:10-12

The Lord said to Joshua, 'Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. 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; they turn their backs and run 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.'

Even though Joshua was spouting a bunch of nonsense, God listened and answered him. That can be reassuring for us as we realize that God is patient and merciful enough to allow us to vent our frustration. God's answer was simple in telling Joshua that the problem was with the people and not with their location or the fault of God.

Joshua 7:13

'Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, "Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them."'

God's instructions to remedy the situation begins with consecration. We remember that this is the same thing that the people were urged to do before they first entered the land. Consecration was simply deciding to follow God alone. There first step was to get back to being focused on the spiritual things of God.

Joshua 7:14 & 15

'In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel.'

The next day, everyone was to come before the Lord and He would show them who was guilty in taking the things. This violation of the covenant is described as "outrageous" speaking of reckless, undisciplined action. This is a reminder to us that walking in the Spirit is the only way to bring the flesh into obedience.

Joshua 7:16-18

Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen. The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen. Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen.

We do not know how God's selections were revealed but the family of Achan was found to be the guilty party. This is a reminder to us that you cannot hide your sin from God. It will either be taken care of by the blood of Jesus or by our own blood.

Joshua 7:19-21

Then Joshua said to Achan, 'My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.' Achan replied, 'It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.'

Achan confessed what he had done and we see the steps in following the flesh. He had saw something and wanted it more than he wanted to listen to the Lord. He took it and tried to hide it hoping that God would not be looking.

Joshua 7:22-26

So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord. Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. Joshua said, 'Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.' Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

All of Israel was used as God's instrument of judgment. As the head of his family, Achan had involved the rest in his sin and so they were all punished.

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