Joshua 7:1-15 – One Bad Apple

Read Joshua 7:1-15

apple in a man's hand

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.

Imagine how perplexed Joshua and his fighting men were that they failed to conquer small little Ai. After their great victory over the fortified city of Jericho, Ai should have been a piece of cake. Yet, they were left embarrassed. You can bet that just as quickly as the news had spread of Israel’s strength and protection by God, this latest “scoop” would make the rounds even faster.

“Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening.” That kind of obedience should be rewarded, shouldn’t it? It certainly got God’s attention! “But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings.”

In that moment, Joshua understood. I’m sure his own fury was brewing under the surface thinking that one of his own people had sinned in this way. He may have been feeling guilty himself for not being a better leader to have caught the culprit in the act. How could that have gotten by him or those in charge? Next, he had to be wondering who. Who had been so bold and so stupid to do such a thing?

What do you take from this story? Perhaps the message is to take God seriously. If he says to do or not do something, we should listen. What will be the fate of this one bad apple, Achan? How will God respond to him? “The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”

When our plans go awry, maybe we should be asking ourselves, “what did I do to displease God?” Better yet, we should be striving to live our lives in alignment with God’s desires for us. When we are living in God’s will, our plans will not fail. How is God speaking to your heart today?

Let’s pray … Lord, I know I mess up and do things that aren’t always in alignment with what you desire for me. Forgive me. I also pray for protection from the evil one who plants desires in my heart that are contrary to your will. Help me stand strong and make wise choices. I never want to intentionally do things that you have commanded me to avoid. Cleanse and purify my heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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