“So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel by their tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken. He brought the clan of Judah, and he took the family of the Zarhites; and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. Then he brought his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. Now Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, I beg you, give glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.’ And Achan answered Joshua and said, ‘Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it'” (Josh. 7:16-21).
In a systematic way (with God’s help), the guilty tribe, family, household, and man are identified. Achan is branded as the guilty party! His fear must have increased exponentially as Joshua slowly closed in on his household. Why didn’t he simply come forward and confess his wrong doing? Evidently his heart was hard. Did he have some hope that he would not be exposed as a thief and a deceiver? Did he foolishly believe that his sins would not find him out (cf. Num. 32:23)? Did he entertain the notion that Almighty God would not see his wickedness since he had hidden the stolen items? Some today ignorantly believe their sins are shielded from God’s perception. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). God sees everything and blessed or punishes accordingly!
After being labeled as the violator, Achan confessed all. His problems began when he “saw among the spoils” several items of significant value and desired them for himself. No doubt this was a temptation to many Israelites when they destroyed Jericho, but God’s word had been clear. Everyone denied themselves and said “no” to temptation, except Achan. Achan’s prolonged, lustful look at that which could never be his opened the door for thievery. Many today ruin their lives as Achan did by setting their eyes longingly on things or people who can never be theirs! As Jesus said in Matthew 6:22,23 – “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”
“So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver under it. And they took them from the midst of the tent, brought them to Joshua and to all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.’ So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day” (Josh. 7:22-26).
Achan’s story was confirmed; the stolen items were found among his possessions. The people obeyed God by putting to death the violator along with his family (who, we might assume, had knowledge of his wickedness and shared in it to some degree). Achan had caused a great deal of trouble for the nation as a whole, but no longer would he be a hindrance upon them. With the sin properly removed, God would now bless His people again. Here is another great lesson for the church today: If sin exists in a congregation, it must be dealt with properly, not ignored (e.g., I Cor. 5).