And Achan answered Joshua and said, “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 Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver under it. And they took them from the midst of the tent, brought them to Joshua and to all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the Lord. Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day. (Joshua 7:20-26)
The Family Of Achan
Israel had a great victory over Jericho and thought the battle for Ai would be much easier. Instead of sending the whole compliment of the Hebrew army, Joshua chose three thousand men to go up and attack Ai. To the dismay of the Israelites, the army was routed and thirty-six men were killed. Joshua tore his clothes and fell before the ark of the Lord pleading for an answer how they could be defeated by the men of Ai. The Lord brought news that sin in the camp of Israel was the cause of the victory by the people of Ai and until that sin was rooted out, there would be no triumph for Israel. It was discovered that a man from the tribe of Judah had taken of the accursed things from Jericho. When the people came against the city God had clearly said that everything was to be consecrated to Him and be placed in the treasury of the Lord. He had warned against taken anything for personal gain and by doing so would bring the wrath of God upon them. Achan, son of Carmi, thought he could get away with such a small amount no one would notice. The Lord knew what he had done.
Joshua brought the people before him and the Lord revealed Achan’s sin. As long as this sin went unpunished, Israel would be defeated by all their enemies. Bringing Achan before him, Joshua asked what the man had done. Achan admitted while looting the city of Jericho he saw a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing. He took the forbidden things and buried them in the midst of his tent. Joshua sent messengers to retrieve the booty and found it exactly where Achan had said. As penalty for his sin, Achan was stoned to death. What is remarkable about the story is to realize that along with Achan those who were stoned to death was his wife, his sons and daughters and all of his animals. After stoning them to death they cremated their bodies and built a large heap of stones over the place. The writer of Joshua comments the pile of stones was still there in his day.
There is a family lesson in the story of Achan. As a father, he failed in leading his family in the path of righteousness. The decision to stone to death his wife and children is in the righteous mind of God. It would suggest the family was in collusion with Achan and were held to blame for the theft. There was no doubt by any of those who went up to fight in Jericho that everything was to be given to the Lord. Achan thought he could hide his deed from the Lord. Bringing the items to his tent, his family fell into complicity with the sin of their father. His wife should have refused the stolen goods. Sadly, the single act of one man was endorsed by his family and they all suffered death. Destroying the animals, tent and stolen items taught Israel a lesson about the penalty for sin. The only way that God will bless the nation is when sin is removed from its midst. This should have been done with the accursed things brought into the home. Like Israel, the sacred place of the home should be free from sin.
Achan failed in his leadership of his family and it cost them all their lives. What value did those items have when the stones began to fly? At what cost did he pay for the greed of a few items that meant nothing in the end? How many fathers are leading their families along the same path of Achan who work day and night for covetous things that will perish? The accursed thing in many homes is the pursuit of the lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and pride of life. The family has little concern for the Lord as they hoard their possessions of today building lives from the stones of Ai. Parents teach their children to love the world and seldom mention God. Like Achan and his wife, they impress upon their children that it is okay to steal, lie, cheat and expect the world to give them everything they want. God was not in the midst of the tent of Achan and when this happens to the home of God’s people, tragedy follows. Was it right to stone everyone in the family of Achan? The answer is a resounding yes because that is the justice of a loving and righteous God. It should also warn of the dangers of disobeying Him. Fathers – how are you leading your families?