July 3, 2011 Sunday School Lesson
Joshua 7:1, 10-12, 22-26
Just as soon as the account of triumph over Jericho ends, God’s Word tells us about defeat for Joshua and Israel.
Joshua 7:1 begins with: “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing.” The Lord made it clear to His people that they were not to take any of the spoils from Jericho.
Scripture refers to the forbidden spoils as “the accursed thing.” The accursed thing is treasure that God commanded to be taken to the tabernacle. There are a couple of important points about the sixth chapter we ought to first consider.
First, the treasure was the Lord’s because He gave them victory over Jericho. Delivering the treasure to the Lord was a valuable reminder of this lesson. Secondly, everyone in Jericho, with the exception of Rahab and her family, died in the city’s fall.
The reason for this seems to have been that the Lord used this to strike terror in the hearts of people Israel would face in the future.
In Joshua 7, we are told that Achan violated God’s order and took some of the treasure for himself. In effect, Achan stole from the Lord and brought trouble to the people of Israel.
Joshua, of course, was unaware of Achan’s disobedience. He prepared to go up against the city of Ai and he sent men to look over the situation and report back to him. The men told Joshua there were so few people in Ai that he need not trouble all of Israel’s warriors by sending every man into battle.
Joshua sent about 3,000 men into battle, and Ai’s soldiers turned them back, killing 36 of Israel’s men. “The hearts of the people melted, and became as water” after they were defeated. Joshua and the elders of Israel fell on their faces in prayer before the Lord. Why, Joshua asked, had the Lord brought them to this place of defeat?
Now, the enemy would hear and Israel would surely suffer because of the defeat at Ai. The Lord told Joshua that He would not be with Israel until the matter of the stolen items was settled, and through a process of drawing lots, it was discovered that Achan had taken a royal robe, silver and gold.
Joshua sent men to recover the items, buried under Achan’s tent. Achan, everything he owned, the items he stole, and his family were destroyed.
People too often act as if there are no consequences to sin. God proves, however, that He deals with sins. Achan, like so many people today, wrongly believed that he could hide his sins. “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. email@example.com