You may be familiar with the story of Achan from Joshua 7. The children of Israel had suffered a surprising defeat at Ai. When Joshua approached GOD inquiring why His people had been defeated, GOD told him simply that there was sin in the camp. Achan was the one guilty of that sin.
The first lesson we can learn from this is how the actions of one can affect the entire group. Achan was one, yet his sin had caused the defeat of the entire group. Note in verse 11 that GOD says “Israel has sinned and they have also transgressed.” Even though Achan was one, GOD refers to Israel in the plural. His sin affected the whole group.
The point I wish to emphasize today is found in verse 21. Note the progression of sin. Achan first saw, then coveted, next took, and finally hid them. He saw, coveted, took, and hid. Think about the progression of his actions, from a simple look to coveting to taking and finally to hiding.
Achan could have stopped the process anywhere along the way. But that is not the way sin operates. It is so seemingly innocent at first. Achan could have thought now what could it possibly hurt to look at these beautiful garments and all this silver and gold. He may have thought that it doesn’t hurt to look. What is the harm in just looking? There is no harm in my just looking.
Well the harm in looking is that it leads to the next step. Achan began to covet them. To covet is to have a desire for something that belongs to someone else and it was strictly forbidden in the Mosaical Law. So what is the harm in looking? It led him on a path of sin. It was the first step on a slippery slope that becomes increasingly harder to stop the further the process goes. The coveting led him to take and the process continued.
And we should note the progression didn’t stop in verse 21 with the hiding. Sin leads to death and Achan’s situation was no exception. Verse 25 states that Israel stoned him and all his family. The progression of sin: He saw, he coveted, he took, he hid, and they died.
I am sure Achan had no idea that his actions that fateful day would eventually cause the death of his family. I pray that no actions of mine cause my family negative spiritual consequences.
You may have had episodes in your life that you can, with hindsight, look back on and identify with Achan. Or you may be in the midst of this process now. You may be on that slippery slope dealing with some temptation that Satan has placed in your life. You may be in the “looking” process now or it may have progressed further. Whatever the case, I pray you will stop the process before it leads to eventual death.
Alone we are powerless against the temptations of Satan but James 4:7-8 gives us hope. Submit to GOD. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to GOD and He will draw near to you.
You should note the progression even here. We make the first move, submitting to GOD and drawing near to Him. He will be there for us when we do.
One last observation about Achan is found in 1 Chronicles 2:7. Here Achan is referred to as the troubler of Israel. Spiritual Israel, GOD’S people today is the church. May I never be guilty of being a troubler of the church.