Today we see men making decisions based on sight instead of faith, which negatively impacts those around them. First is the story of Achan. After the huge victory of Jericho, the Israelites suffered defeat against puny Ai. Joshua tears his clothes, falls down at the altar, and blames the Lord. Little does Joshua know that the defeat was due to someone’s disobedience. However, the Lord knows because the Lord sees all, and He saw Achan take from the accursed things at the battle of Jericho.
The Lord tells Joshua that they can not stand before their enemies because Israel has sinned and transgressed His covenant. He instructs the people to sanctify themselves, for in the morning He will identify the one who transgressed the covenant of the Lord and he shall be burned.
The Lord singles out Achan, and when Joshua questions Achan, he responds saying, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.” So Achan made a decision based on sight and lust of the eye instead of faith and obedience to the Lord. The consequences of Achan’s disobedience are the deaths of thirty-six men in battle, the stoning of Achan’s entire family, and the impact on the entire community by stoning and burning of Achan, his entire family, and everything he possessed. A person’s choices always impact others either for good or bad. Achan, who grew up in the wilderness with the Lord, basically “in the church,” lacked faith, and it cost the lives of him and his family. In contrast, we saw yesterday how Rahab, an outsider harlot, showed such faith that it saved her and influenced her entire family to salvation.
After the disobedience is exposed and punished, the Lord gives the Israelites victory over Ai. Then Joshua renews the Lord’s covenant with the people and performs the ceremony on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal as the Lord instructed them in Deuteronomy 11 and 27 – “And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.”
But then we discover that Joshua also makes a decision based on sight when the Gibeonites show up pretending to be from a far away country with moldy bread, old wine skins, and worn out clothing. Joshua and the leaders of Israel do not seek wisdom from the Lord and make a covenant with the Gibeonites. Remember that God already told the Israelites not to make covenants with the people around them (Exodus 23:32). Three days later Joshua finds out the Gibeonites deceived them and they are actually their neighbors. So Joshua makes them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and the altar of the Lord, which will have a long lasting impact on the Israelites.
We will see later in the story, in the Kingdom Era, King Saul is going to break the treaty with the Gibeonites, resulting in terrible consequences for Israel and the sons of Saul. But first, the Israelites still have to get settled into the promised land, so keep reading. (Joshua 7:1, 1 Chronicles 2:7, Joshua 7:2-9:27)