The story really has a happy ending for everyone. Joshua has his work cut out for him in his conquests of the land. From the sounds of it, his neighbors are less than thrilled to have the Israelites in their midst. “These kings combined their armies to fight as one against Joshua and the Israelites.”
But before Joshua has to contend with them, the Gibeonites showed up seeking mercy. They certainly didn’t come right out and ask. They feared the Lord and felt like they had to hide their intentions in deception. I have to admit that had they waltzed into Joshua’s presence with a plea of safety, they would probably have been laughed at! Joshua knew what his role was, and befriending close neighbors was not part of it.
How many times have you had something go wrong with your computer, wonder what’s happening, only be told the solution is to “restart?” It always amazes me how that restart does the trick. In our Bible account, we see that a cleansing was needed, a “restart” of sorts. We get a front row seat to watch the covenant between God and his people being restored.
In our recent readings, we saw how God was with Joshua as he led the people across the Jordan River. We saw a magnificent display of power dismantle the fortified city of Jericho. Then one bad apple angered God by being disobedient. It didn’t end well for him, did it? Then we saw the great victory over Ai. Before much more time was to pass, Joshua followed Moses’ instructions to restore the covenant with God.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! I remember telling my younger self that a time or two. We shouldn’t let one defeat stop us from pursuing our dream. If Thomas Edison had given up before the 10,000th try, somebody else would have invented the incandescent lightbulb. For Joshua and his crew, it was the second attempt at conquering Ai that worked.
It worked because God was leading the way. What we read in this passage is God’s instructions. When carried out according to God’s plan, they succeeded. We can take the assurance from this example that when we follow God’s plan or when he blesses our plans, we will have success. Sometimes there is learning to be done along the way. The journey to success can be long and winding, like it was for Edison and other great inventors.
The treasure is buried. What good does it do there? That much “loot” must have brought attention to itself. You don’t just bury something under your tent without being noticed. That is probably why Achan’s family members were also sent away for punishment. I’m sure this is not the kind of remembrance Achan was hoping for when he gravely sinned. In fact, he was hoping to be “forgotten.”
As noted in our last reading, God sees it all. God knew who would be singled out that fateful morning. Achan did, too. From the time of the announcement until that moment, Achan had been thinking and overthinking what he had done. He could have denied it. He could have lied about where it was. But that at least he handled honorably. He told the truth when Joshua asked, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.”
God sees it all. The good and the bad. In the case of our reading today, we learn of a man named Achan. Surely, his claim to fame in this story is nothing to be proud of. Did he seriously think he could do what the Lord had forbidden and be okay? His belief in God must have been a little shaky. His trust was in his own abilities, and his desires for wealth or prestige must have totally clouded his good sense.
Now, it’s easy for us to point fingers at Achan, isn’t it? We’re probably wondering how he could have done such a thing. But how often have we stretched the truth, broken a commandment, or dishonored God in some way only to try and keep our sins hidden from view. Maybe those around us are oblivious, but the one who counts is God. He sees it all.