Joshua Chapter Seven

The Troubled Walk

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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.

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Joshua 7:1

But the people of Isra'el misappropriated some of the goods set aside to be destroyed; for 'Akhan, the son of Karmi, the son of Zavdi, the son of Zerach, of the tribe of Y'hudah, took some of the things reserved for destruction. In consequence, the anger of ADONAI blazed up against the people of Isra'el.

When Israel defeated Jericho, the Lord told them that they were not to take any spoils from the battlefield. All of Jericho was to be cherem; that is everything was to be either destroyed or dedicated to the Lord. 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 Messiah as well as on Yeshua.

Joshua 7:2 & 3

Y'hoshua sent men from Yericho to 'Ai, which is next to Beit-Aven, east of Beit-El, telling them to go up and spy out the land. So the men went up, reconnoitered 'Ai, returned to Y'hoshua and told him, "Don't have all the people go up; but let perhaps two or three thousand men go up and attack 'Ai. There's no point in making all the people exert themselves to get there, because there are only a few of them."

Y'hoshua 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 from the people about three thousand men went up there, but they were routed by the men of 'Ai. The men of 'Ai killed some thirty-six of them and chased them from before their gate all the way to Sh'varim, attacking them on the descent. The hearts of the people melted and turned to 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 Y'hoshua 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. We see that the Israelites that attacked Ai were chased all the way to Sh'varim and the name of that place means "broken". In this, we see that our disobedience (sin) leads to brokenness in our relationship with the Lord and this brokenness leads to fear and a loss of heart.

Joshua 7:6

Y'hoshua tore his clothes and fell to his face on the ground before the ark of ADONAI until evening, he and the leaders of Isra'el, and they put dust on their heads.

Y'hoshua 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

Y'hoshua said, "Oh, Adonai ELOHIM! Why did you take the trouble to bring this people across the Yarden if you meant to hand us over to the Emori and have us perish? We should have been satisfied to live on the other side of the Yarden! Oh, ADONAI! What can I say, after Isra'el has turned their backs and retreated before their enemies? For when the Kena'ani and the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe us off the face of the earth. What will you do then to save the honor of your great name?"

Y'hoshua 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

ADONAI said to Y'hoshua, "Stand up! Why are you lying there face down? Isra'el has sinned. Yes, they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them. They have taken some of what was to have been set aside for destruction. They have stolen it, lied about it and put it with their own things. This is why the people of Isra'el cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs on their enemies, because they have come under a curse. I won't be with you any more unless you destroy the things meant for destruction that you have with you.

Even though Y'hoshua 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 Y'hoshua that the problem was with the people and not with their location or the fault of God.

Joshua 7:13

So get up, consecrate the people, and say, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for here is what ADONAI the God of Isra'el says: "Isra'el, you have things under the curse of destruction among you; and you will not be able to stand before your enemies until you remove the things that were to have been destroyed from among you."

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. Their first step was to get back to being focused on the spiritual things of God.

Joshua 7:14 & 15

Therefore, tomorrow morning you are to come forward, one tribe at a time; the tribe ADONAI takes is to come forward, one family at a time; the family ADONAI takes is to come forward, one household at a time; and the household ADONAI takes is to come forward, one person at a time. The person who is caught with things in his possession that were reserved for destruction is to be burned to ashes, he and everything he has, because he has violated the covenant of ADONAI and has committed a shameful deed in Isra'el.'"

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

So Y'hoshua got up early in the morning and had Isra'el come forward, one tribe at a time; and the tribe of Y'hudah was taken. He had the families of Y'hudah come forward and took the family of the Zarchi. He had the Zarchi family come forward by household leaders, and Zavdi was taken. He had his household come forward, one person at a time; and 'Akhan the son of Karmi, the son of Zavdi, the son of Zerach, of the tribe of Y'hudah, was taken.

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 Yeshua or by our own blood.

Joshua 7:19-21

Y'hoshua said to 'Akhan, "My son, swear to ADONAI, the God of Isra'el, that you will tell the truth and confess to him. Tell me, now, what did you do? Don't hide anything from me." 'Akhan answered Y'hoshua, "It is true: I have sinned against ADONAI, the God of Isra'el. Here is exactly what I did: when I saw there with the spoil a beautiful robe from Shin'ar, five pounds of silver shekels and a one-and-a-quarter-pound wedge of gold, I really wanted them. So I took them. You will find them 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

Y'hoshua sent messengers, who ran to the tent. It was all there, hidden in his tent, including the silver underneath. They took the things from inside the tent, brought them to Y'hoshua and all the people of Isra'el, and put them down before ADONAI. Y'hoshua, together with all Isra'el, took 'Akhan, the son of Zerach, with the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons, his daughters, his cattle, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and everything he had, and brought them up to the Akhor Valley. Y'hoshua said, "Why have you brought trouble on us? Today ADONAI will bring trouble on you!" Then all Isra'el stoned him to death; they burned them to ashes and stoned them. Over him they piled a great mound of stones, which is there to this day. Finally ADONAI turned away from his fierce anger. And this is why that place is called the Valley of Akhor to this day.

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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