Intro: Israel has just been involved in the greatest
military conquest in their history. They have just
witnessed the tremendous defeat of the city of Jericho
and they are still basking in the glow of that great event.
But, verse 1 tells us that God was upset with the
people. Israel thought that everything was all right.
They thought that they were standing on the edge of a
great string of victories that would see them conquering
the entire land of promise. Yet, what they didn't know
was that there was a problem in the camp. There was
one in their midst who was causing a problem for the
entire family of God.
May I say that things are still the same today? Folk,
we are all members of one body, 1 Cor. 12:27.
According to the Bible, 1 Cor. 12:26, when one member
of the body has problems, the entire body has
problems. You see, your spiritual temperature has a
deep effect on the entire body of Christ. You are not an
island unto your self. What you do effects the entire
church body. We will see this truth illustrated in this
passage this morning.
My desire in preaching this message is that each of
you would search your hearts and examine your life this
morning. If there is anything in your life that you have
hidden away, anything that you think is covered and
gone, I want you to get that thing settled with the Lord
before you leave this building. You can and this
passage tells us how.
My friends, sin causes problems. It causes them for
the sinner and for everyone else around them. The fact
is, most of us are guilty of being like Achan from time to
time. When we allow sin into our lives and when we try
to hide our sins and try to cover it up, we bring pain and
trouble into our lives. Yes, we are all Achans from time
to time, and when we are, our sins causes aching in our
lives. However, these verses tell us that God has a
prescription for an Achan heart. Let's look at that right
now as the Lord gives liberty and help for this hour.
I. V. 2-5 A PAINFUL DEFEAT
A. V. 2-3 Israel Was A Confident People - As I said
a moment ago, Israel was still basking in the glow
of their victory at Jericho and they looked at Ai
and felt like that little town would be no problem
for such a great army. Israel was a confident
people, but a closer look reveals that their
confidence was misplaced. In verse 3, they feel
like that just a few of the soldiers are needed to
secure a victory in little Ai. These people are
guilty of resting on their laurels.
(Ill. Israel did not realize it, but they were living
through one of the most dangerous times of life.
You see, the time just after a great spiritual
victory is a dangerous time. Often, like Israel, we
will be over confident and believe that we can
handle any battle that comes our way, Pro. 16:18.
When we believe like that, then is usually when
we suffer our greatest defeats.)
(Ill. Now, don't misunderstand me. Confidence is
a good thing as long as one's confidence is in the
right place. When we are walking with our hope
and our confidence in the Lord, we will win the
victory, but when we are walking with our
confidence in the power of our ability and in our
flesh, then we are destined to fail!)
B. V. 4-5a Israel Was A Conquered People - When
Israel went up to Ai in they suffered a terrible
defeat and 36 of their number were killed. This
must have been very devastating to the Israelites.
However, when one takes the time to look more
closely at their actions, it is easy to see that they
made several mistakes. Mistakes that, I feel,
many of us are guilty of making as well.
1. Nowhere in this passage does it even hint that
Joshua and the people of Israel sought the
will of God for dealing with Ai. They didn't
even pray about the matter. If they had, God
would have revealed the problem before
(Ill. How many times are we guilty of jumping
ahead of the Lord and His will? We will rush
headlong into life and trust the Lord to bail us
out of the messes in which we find ourselves.
It is far better to consult God before we make
the mistake than it is to expect Him to clean
up our messes afterwards.)
2. They didn't take the Ark of the Covenant into
the battle. The Ark symbolized the presence
and power of God. They went into the battle
in their own strength and they failed!
(Ill. Again, here is an area where we could all
use help. We try to live the Christian life, fight
the flesh and the devil in our own power and
we fail time after time. The reason? We do
not take the time to strengthen our walk with
God! When we are walking with the Lord and
in His Word as we should be, He will go with
us into the battle and face our enemies on our
behalf. Who killed the giant, David or God?
David himself holds the answer to that
question, 1 Sam. 17:47.)
3. Finally, Israel had their confidence in their own
power and not in the Lord. They were not
walking by faith, but they were guilty of
trusting what they could do.
(Ill. How many times have we suffered defeat
at the hands of our enemy because we too
believed we were able and that we could get
the job done. Well, the bottom line is this: I
can't do the job and neither can you! We all
need the Lord is we are to walk in spiritual
victory in our lives, Phil. 4:13; John 15:5.)
C. V. 5b Israel Was A Confounded People - After
their terrible defeat at the hands of Ai, the people
of Israel are feeling the same fear that their
enemies experienced, Josh. 2:9; 5:1; 6:1. You
see, this is one of the problems with sin. It
defeats you and leaves you feeling just like a lost
man. Nothing is right in the life of a believer while
there is sin in his midst!
(Ill. Have you every had a time like this in your
spiritual life? I have and most of the time, they
result from those times when I have left God out
of the picture in my life.)
(Ill. Israel didn't know at this point what was
wrong. All they knew was that they had just
suffered their first defeat. Thankfully, God wants
His people to have the victory, not the defeat.
So, He takes the necessary steps to reveal to the
nation of Israel just exactly where the problem
I. A Painful Defeat
II. V. 6-15 A PAINFUL DISCOVERY
A. V. 6-9 Joshua Reacts In Prayer - After the
tragedy happens, Joshua finds himself before
the Lord in prayer. His prayer is from a broken
heart, v. 6. However, there is also a hint of
anger and accusation against the Lord. Joshua
is going to learn that prayer is the correct
recourse in a time of trouble, but that prayer will
avail nothing until sin has been dealt with, Psa.
66:18! Joshua wonders why Israel was
powerless in the battle, the answer wasn't to
blame God, or to dispute His will. The answer
was in their own camp!
(Ill. After we have made decisions that brought
with them terrible consequences, it's too late to
play the blame game. Also, it is never the right
time to accuse God of anything. When there is
a tragedy in our lives, we need to look within and
see where the problem is. You see, when there
is a lack of power in my life, the problem is not
with God, nor is it with others, the problem is
always with me! The same is true in the church.
When there is defeat in the church and souls
aren't being saved and the services are dull and
lifeless, we need not blame the Lord! He is
doing His part. The problem is always a problem
within! This will be dealt with in more detail later
B. V. 10-15 God Rehearses The Problem - While
Joshua and Israel try to figure out what is
happening, God in Heaven already knows and
tells Joshua all about it. He tells him that there
is sin in the camp of Israel! He tells Joshua that
it is this sin that is hindering His power and it is
what is bringing about their defeat. He tells
Joshua how to discover the guilty party. In these
words to Joshua, God gives us some insights
into sin, of which we need to take note. Allow
me to share with you these seven observations
concerning sin and its effects in our lives.
1. God knows about our sins - v. 11 (Pro.
15:3; Heb. 4:13)
2. God hates our sins - v. 11 - (Pro. 6:16-19)
3. God has a plan for our sins - v. 14-15 - (1
John 1:9; Psa. 32:5)
4. God will punish our sins - v. 15 - (Gal. 6:9)
5. Sin affects those around us - v. 11-12 - As
I said at the beginning, we cannot sin in a
vacuum. Your sins and mine have the ability
to drastically lower the spiritual temperature
of the church. We are all one body and what
effects you effects me!
6. Sin hinders God's work - v. 12 - (Matt.
7. Sin must be dealt with - v. 13 - Either you
and I will deal with our sins, or God will deal
with them. Either way, they will be handled! -
(1 Cor. 11:31)
(Ill. Often, the greatest problems faced by the
church come from within and not from without.
You see, it's not the water on the outside of the
boat that causes the problem, it's the water on
the inside of the boat that causes trouble! The
same is true for the church. The world and the
devil really can't do a lot of damage to the
church, but you lat someone inside the church
get out of line and there is a problem! More often
than not, when there are defeats and trouble
down at the house of God, you can bet that there
is someone in the church who is out of God's
I. A Painful Defeat
II. A Painful Discovery
III. V. 16-26 A PAINFUL DEATH
(Ill. In these verses, the wages of sin are put on clear
display for all to see, Rom. 6:23.)
A. V. 16-18 The Sinner Discovered - Ill. the process
that God used to point out Achan. God knew who
was guilty, why didn't He just tell Joshua who they
were looking for? In my opinion, He was giving
Achan time to repent and to confess his sins. Be
that as it may, the finger of God was getting closer
and closer and finally landed on Achan.
(Ill. The lesson for us needs to be learned well!
God already knows your sins and His finger is
getting closer and closer to your life. One day
soon, He will point out those things in your life that
need to be revealed! It is only a matter of time sir,
Ma'am, young person until the finger of God lands
on your life and you are exposed in your sins! It
will not and cannot be hidden forever! One day,
your sin will find you out - Num. 32:23; Luke 12:3.
You may try, but you cannot hide your sin!)
B. V. 19-21 The Sin Discussed - (Now that the sin
is out in the open it has to be dealt with. Notice
the two aspects of this section.)
1. V. 19 The Compassion - When Joshua
speaks to Achan, he speaks with love in his
heart. He knows that Achan is condemned, but
Joshua still cares for this man who brought so
much trouble to Israel.
(Ill. In this, Joshua is a picture of God. While
God hates sin with His entire being, He still
loves the sinner, John 3:16. Even though man
is the enemy of God, God still wants man to
repent and to come to Him for salvation, 2 Pet.
3:9. If you have sin in your life this morning,
you need to remember that God is a loving and
gracious God Who exhibits His greatness by
cleansing sinners. You need to come to Him
before it is too late!)
2. V. 20-21 The Confession - In these two
verses, Achan finally confesses his sin.
However, don't believe for a second that Achan
repented! He, like some others in the Bible,
only confessed his sins after he got caught in
them. At this point, it would have been
impossible to hide them any longer anyway. (Ill.
Achan is like other men in the Bible who
confessed their sins, but not in real repentance
- Pharaoh, Balaam, Judas.)
(Ill. This is not God's method for handling sin!
God's way is for a man to be open and honest
about the sin in his life and for him to confess
those things to the Lord, Pro. 28:13. God's way
is for His people to throw the covers off their
sins and tell God the truth that He already
knows. He can bless a person who handles sin
the Biblical way. However, the person who tries
to hide his sins will never prosper, but will face
God in judgment. You see, you will confess you
sins one way or another. You can confess them
where the confession will make a difference, or
you will do it when you face the Lord in
Judgment. Either way, you will confess your
sins - Phil. 2:11.)
(Ill. Note the progression in Achan's sin, v. 21. "I
saw...I coveted...I took." This is the same pattern
that sin always follows. It was this way in the
Garden of Eden, Gen. 3:1-6. It was this way when
David sinned with Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:1-4. It is
and will be this way in nearly any instance of sin
you can name. Notice the progression that the
Bible speaks of in James - James 1:13-15. You
see it and it appeals to your flesh, you want it and
you take it. Sin is always the same! Ill. Our
reaction to sin should be just like that of Joseph,
Gen. 39:12. We are commanded to flee youthful
lusts, 2 Tim. 2:22.)
(Ill. Another problem that Achan had is found in v.
21. Achan calls the things he took "spoils". This
word refers to the booty that a conquering army
can claim after a victory. However, these things
were no spoils. God said in 6:18-19 that these
things were His. They were not to be gifts for
Israel, they were to be placed in the treasury of the
Lord's house. In essence, Achan was guilty of
stealing from the Lord. Are you guilty of that sin?
(Ill. Notice this: Achan had things buried in his tent
that he could not use! To use them would be to
reveal his character to the entire nation of Israel.
In other words, Achan sinned and died for nothing!
The things he stole were no good to him at all!)
C. V. 22-26 The Sinner Destroyed - These verses
give us the sad conclusion to this tragic tale.
Achan and all that he had were taken out and
stones to death by the people of Israel. It didn't
have to end this way! However, these verses
demonstrate the horrible end that all sinners who
refuse to repent will come to. The name of the
valley is called "Achor". This word means trouble.
If you are going to sin, you need to know that you
are headed for trouble, Pro. 13:15.
(Ill. If you are God's child, and you have
unconfessed, unrepented of sin in your heart and
life, you need to know that you life can be a
hindrance to this church. You also need to know
that God will chasten you to bring you back in line
with His will, Rev. 3:19. My advice to you is that
you need to get right with God this morning! God
knows what it will take to touch your heart, and He
isn't afraid to touch that heartstring if He knows it
will bring you to repentance.)
(Ill. If you are lost this morning, there is only one
thing you need. You need to come to Jesus for
salvation. If you fool around and die without Him
you will wind up in Hell, lost forever and in the
flames of torment. Is that what you want? Is that
where you want to end up? If not, then come to
Conc: Years later, the prophet Hosea mentioned this
same valley. He said, "And I will give her her
vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for
a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the
days of her youth, and as in the day when she came
up out of the land of Egypt." Hosea 2:15 The promise
is that this place of trouble could become a door of
hope. The same is true concerning your sins. If you
will come to the Lord this morning, those sins that are
going to cause you lots of trouble can be taken care of.
This altar can literally become a door of hope for you
right now, if you will come to Jesus for the cleansing
you need. If you have an Achan kind of heart this
morning, there is help in Jesus if you will come to Him.