Study Notes

Joshua 7:1-8:35


As we saw last week, the Lord gave Jericho into the hands of the Israelites. The walls fell down, the people inside were killed, and the city was burned with fire. Before going in, Joshua had warned them,

Josh. 6:17-19 "And the city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, lest you covet {them} and take some of the things under the ban, so you would make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD."

They were not to take anything for themselves. But as we pick up in chapter 7, we read...

7:1 Achan Steals From Jericho

When Achan, the son of Kar-MEE, the son of Zab-DEE, the son of ZEH-rakh, was in the city of Jericho before it was burned down, he saw a mantle that he just had to have. Then there was some silver and a bar of gold that he also couldn't resist. He took them and hid them in his tent.

The word aw-KAWN means "troubler," and that became Achan's namesake for all time.

1Chr. 2:7 And the son of Carmi was Achar (Achan), the troubler of Israel, who violated the ban.

"Troubler" becomes known as the "troubler of Israel." Notice that God holds the entire congregation guilty for the sin of one man. Why? Because the Israelites were one people, just as the church is one congregation. When one sins, all are affected. Remember Paul telling the Corinthians,

1Cor. 12:26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if {one} member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

The entire congregation is deemed unfaithful for the sins of one. This happened to the entire human race because of Adam's sin. Fortunately, this also worked the other way through Jesus Christ.

Rom. 5:18-19 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Adam's one sin condemned us all, but Jesus Christ's one sacrifice saved us all.

7:2 More Spies

From Jericho, Joshua sent spies over to Ai, by Bayth AW-ven, east of Bayth-ALE. Now, in the Jericho spy mission, as an evangelistic outreach, it was a success - Rahab and her entire family came to faith in the true and living God. But the reconnaissance mission was a failure - the spies were discovered, and didn't bring back any useful tactical information. God was the one who came up with the plan, and the victory, as a matter of fact. So why is he doing this again?

It seems to me that Joshua is trying to imitate the process by which their last victory was won. That makes common sense, but it doesn't make kingdom sense. You see, God will not be forced into a program or a process. Gaining the victory through Christ is not a matter of imitating a procedure, it is a matter of prayerfully seeking the face of the Savior. It is being led by the Spirit every day, praying for guidance, waiting on the Lord, and listening to His voice.

7:3 Walking By Sight

When the spies return, they are confident in what they've seen. "There's not a lot of people at Ai. Let's just send two or three thousand soldiers up there." They based their opinion on what they'd seen.

Joshua didn't say, "Well, let me seek the Lord in prayer and see what He says," he simply agreed. Joshua, made his decision on what was visible.

But we know from Scripture that we are to,

2Cor. 5:7 ...walk by faith, not by sight

Some of the biggest mistakes you will ever make in your Christian life will be those "no-brainer" decisions that you make. Those times when you look at everything, weigh things logically, and make a decision - all without seeking the Lord in prayer. You see, if Joshua had prayed about it, the Lord would have told him, "don't go up to Ai, you've got sin in the camp, and I won't give you the victory." But the spies formed their opinion by sight. Joshua made his decision by sight. And the results were disastrous.

7:4-5 Defeat At Ai

The battle at Ai wasn't even much of a battle. Three thousand of them went up to Ai, but as soon as the Canaanites came out, the Israelites ran. Thirty-six Israelites died, and suddenly the entire congregation was afraid.

Saints, I can't repeat these two verses often enough:

John 15:5 "....Apart from Me you can do nothing.

Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

When will we learn that it is not our strength, it is not our ability, it is not our intellect, it is not our education, it is not our insight, it is not our logic, it is not our brilliance that gets us the victory? It is only Jesus Christ.

7:6-9 Joshua's Sorrow

Joshua is a wreck, not understanding what's happened. It seems that God has turned His back on them, broken His promises, and let them down. He's blaming the situation on God, and fearing for the lives of the Israelites. He's praying the same prayer that many of us have when we've faced defeat in our lives.

But this is not how we are to discover the reason for our defeat. We must focus the attention not on God falling short, but on us. "Lord, search my heart, test my mind. Have I sinned? Have I not repented? Did I step out ahead of You? Did I disobey Your directions? Lord, please show me what I have done."

7:10-13 They Cannot Stand

God tells Joshua to stop the pity party. The reason for the defeat is sin in the camp. Because of that sin, God says,

Josh. 7:12 "Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies..."

Do you know that you cannot stand before your enemies with sin either? Your enemy the devil will take advantage of your sin and manipulate you with it. He'll knock you down with unconfessed, unrepentant sin every time. That's why the book of Ephesians tells us that to stand, we must have the full armor of God on.

Eph. 6:11-17 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

If you're going to stand before your enemies, you need the armor of God on. You need to be walking rightly before God. That means living in truth instead of lies and misleadings. That means righteousness, not living in sin. That means being prepared to share the gospel, not having your head buried in a romance novel or spending hours in front of the TV. That means protecting yourself with faith and salvation, because the devil wants to kill you. If you're living in this manner, you will be able to stand before your enemies.

If they do not rid themselves of the sin, God says, "You guys will be on your own. I won't be with you anymore." How often we go venturing out on our own, totally leaving God behind because of our sin.

7:14-18 Discovery Of The Guilty

The entire congregation passes by, and the Lord somehow shows that it is the tribe of Judah that is harboring the sinner. Then Judah only passed by again, and the clan of the ZEH-rakh-ites was chosen. Then the family of Zab-DEE was chosen. Finally, as the family is passing by, Achan is taken.

The entire congregation is aware of Achan's sin. How awful that must have been - he's been discovered - his worst nightmare come true. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that one of our worst fears is that people will discover how truly sinful we really are. "All of us are more afraid of being found out than ashamed of the sin in our hearts. Our first reaction to the prick of conscience is always to plan that, somehow, our sin may not become known." (Redpath) The fact is, we should be worrying less about our sins being found out and more about turning away from it. Remember that Numbers 32 says,

Num. 32:23 "...Be sure your sin will find you out."

Not, "Be sure your sin will be found out," but "Be sure your sin will find YOU out." Saints, repentance is where it's at. God forgives sin when there's repentance. Your guilt of hiding your sin goes away when there's repentance. You walk in confidence when you walk in repentance.

7:19-23 Confession

Achan confesses what he's done, and how he ended up doing it. He says, "I saw the things, I coveted them, I took them." I saw, I coveted, I took. That is the process by which we so often fall into sin.

None of us can avoid seeing something tempting. Jesus himself was tempted by the devil when He was shown the kingdoms of the world. But when we realize we've seen something tempting, that is the place we must make a choice. Jesus choice was to rebuke the devil and quote the Word of God. Acan's choice was to covet.

To covet means to desire what you don't have. That may not seem like such a sin, until you realize what it does. You look at your neighbor's wife and wish you had a woman that wonderful. Next thing you know, you're committing adultery. You wish you had money like other people do, and the next thing you know, you're stealing, embezzling, or conning. You wish you had material things like others do, and suddenly you've lost your family life and your spiritual life, because you've become consumed with working the hours to gain these things. The Bible repeatedly condemns coveting.

Exod. 20:17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

Eph. 5:5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Simply and accurately stated by Paul, covetousness is idolatry.

After he saw, after he coveted, Achan took. James tells us,

James 1:14-15 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

This is exactly what happened to Achan, right down to his death.

7:24-26 Achan Is Killed

Joshua tells Achan,

Josh. 7:25 And Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day."...

Sometimes, you just can't recover from a bad name!

Achan's family and his property were destroyed with him.

Josh. 22:20 'Did not Achan the son of Zerah act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and wrath fall on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.'"

He did not perish alone. We've got to realize that sin affects more than just us. It affects the individual, it affects the family, and it affects the whole congregation.

8:1-2 I Have Given You Ai

Now that they have dealt with the sin, God will give them the victory. He once again instructs them how they will defeat the Canaanites: set an ambush.

8:3-8 Joshua Sets The Ambush

Joshua sends 30,000 warriors to hide behind the city. The rest of the army will approach from the front, and appear to flee like the 3,000 did before. When the Canaanites chase after them, the 30,000 in the back will take the city and set it on fire.

8:9-29 The Plan Succeeds

An exciting battle, and a great victory!

8:30-33 An Altar To The Lord

The Israelites knew that apart from God, they had no victory, and that this victory was completely due to the Lord. They headed over to Mount Ay-BAWL and built an altar as they had been commanded in Deuteronomy 27.

Deut. 27:4-8 "So it shall be when you cross the Jordan, you shall set up on Mount Ebal, these stones, as I am commanding you today, and you shall coat them with lime. Moreover, you shall build there an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones; you shall not wield an iron {tool} on them. You shall build the altar of the LORD your God of uncut stones; and you shall offer on it burnt offerings to the LORD your God; and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and eat there, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God. And you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very distinctly."

They obeyed the command completely, and then the congregation stood in two groups, one in front of Mt. Gher-ee-ZEEM and the other in front of Mt. Ay-BAWL, with the ark of the covenant and the Levites between them.

8:34-35 Reading The Word

So Joshua read the Word of God to the entire congregation. What importance God has placed on the reading of His Word. Even in the New Testament, pastors are encouraged,

1Tim. 4:13 ...Give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.

And what a blessing it is to fulfill that command!

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