In Joshua 7 we read about the calamity when the Israelites attacked the small town, Ai. Joshua was devastated and fell face down before God. God wasn't that sympathetic and told him to go and get rid of the sin that caused the calamity. Achan, contrary to God's express command in Joshua 6:18 (everything in the city of Jericho was devoted to God and no one was to take anything for himself) took a beautiful garment and silver and gold for himself and buried it in his tent.
- Why did God reserve the property of Jericho for Himself? It was a law of God that all the firstborn belonged to Him. The law originated during the exodus from Egypt. During the tenth plague, all the firstborn were killed because Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go. The firstborn of the Israelites were saved through the death of the Passover lambs. From then on the first born of Israel belonged to the Lord, although they could be redeemed. Jericho was the 'firstborn' of the conquest of Canaan, and everything in it belonged to God.
- What did Achan accomplish through his disobedience? Thirty six households lost their fathers, and were therefore without income. Widows and orphans are always at a disadvantage.
- Achan acknowledged his sin (Joshua 7:20), but why did God not forgive him? If God did, it would mean that His commands (whether they have to do with keeping the Sabbath holy, not blaspheming His name, stealing or immorality) could just be forgotten and an acknowledgment of guilt would nullify the command. God did make provision for unintentional sins (Numbers 15:22-36, using the example of the Sabbath breaker who was stoned). Achan's sin was not unintentional. He heard the command, knew God's law, but was greedy and caught in a trap the devil set for him. If God pardoned him, the command was only seen as good advice: if it was not obeyed casual acknowledgment would bring forgiveness.
- In Romans 15:4 it is said that the Old Testament was given to us as examples. We are to live holy lives. We have Jesus to confess our sins to, but making it a habit to break God's laws will not satisfy God. He gave us Achan's example to show us that He is serious when he gives a command. He knows why He gives commands, and how they will benefit us. If Achan had waited, he could have taken all the plunder his heart desired, because from the next town, Ai, the Israelites could take all the plunder for themselves. God wants to be honored as our Father and King who cares for us, and who deserves the respect He is entitled to.