We have this beautiful plum tree in our front yard. It makes the tiniest little fruits, really about the size of a cherry, and has bright pink blooms in the spring, turning to a deep reddish- purple leaf throughout the year. The birds love its branches and leaves for shade and cover, zooming in and out all day. But I’ve noticed these little sprigs of the tree coming up in the yard around it. You might think that this little growth is its own tree, disconnected from the large plum tree, but really, it’s coming off of the root system below. We just can’t see how far down and spread out those roots are.
It’s not what’s at the surface that allows the new growth to thrive and succeed, but it’s at the root.
The battle of Jericho is over. The Israelites have defeated the people there and destroyed the city as God had commanded. Everything was to be destroyed. Why? God would provide what they needed. The people on that land were pagans and worshipped false gods. The Israelites were to have nothing to do with the items that were in Jericho.
Except, one man didn’t heed the warning.
As the Israelites journey to Ai, the report comes back from the scouts that the men are few and this battle will be easy. Instead of sending all the men to battle, only 3,000 were sent. And they came running back. They were chased by the people of Ai, men were killed, and now, the reputation of the all-powerful Israelite army led by God himself, could be damaged. Joshua falls on his face before the Lord and pleads with him as to why this would happen.
“And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.” (Joshua 7:10-13)
Someone took of the items of Jericho, the accursed things as the Lord had declared. This person’s seemingly hidden sin caused damage to more than just himself. Men had been slaughtered, the whole Israelite camp was accursed, and God threatened to remove His presence from among them.
God showed Joshua who had sinned by going through the tribes of Israel and pulling out the family from which the man belonged and then directed Joshua’s attention at one man, Achan.
“And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” (Joshua 7:19-21)
The accursed things were found just as he had said, in his home. And the punishment God had commanded would be carried out.
“And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.” (Joshua 7:24-25)
I don’t think we truly comprehend the seriousness of sin. On top of the damage done by this one disobedient act, now, not only is his life required, but his entire family. Just as those new shoots springing up from the ground are connected by the roots of the main tree, so is the same for the family. We aren’t told that the family helped in the crime, but in those days, if one man prospered the whole family prospered, and vice versa. Could they have known about the treasure being hidden in their tent? Could they have known that Achan had sinned and they continued to hide it?
While the scripture doesn’t give us every detail here about what happened, we can be sure that God takes sin very seriously, and He went straight to the root of the problem. In order to move forward, the sin had to be dealt with. God had told them to destroy everything and he had disobeyed. So now everything of Achan’s was required.
That sin that we are hiding in your own life, the one we say isn’t hurting anyone else, let this be a reminder that God calls us to sanctify, or purify, ourselves from ALL sin. Just as Achan’s actions had caused a ripple effect, so it is with our sin as well.
Sin never affects only you.
Today, the Lord is leading us to confess those sins, repent (turn away) from those sins and trust in Him to guide us on the path of righteousness. Jesus can free us from that sin. We simply have to turn it over to Him!
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.