An interesting conversation happened in my house a few nights ago. My husband reminded me of an incident that happened early in our relationship. He had cooked something yummylicious (as usual) which I had taken to work for lunch. Now I can’t remember if I was talking about it – in anticipation of lunch time – or if I were eating it… but somehow my manager at the time made the comment “What a way you show-off!” In other words – I was being boastful.
My response was, “It’s not my fault that your husband can’t cook!” Ouch! While that was an admission that she had made in the past, I cringe as I write these words and wonder if they will ever see the light of day…. But- on with the story: “That’s why they have KFC!” was her comeback.
“Ami, that wasn’t nice.” My husband said after he had recounted the tale. “I know.” I replied. “But I was not saved.”
“Saved or not, it was not sensible.” I knew that too, but at the time I was neither saved nor sensible. You know someone else who had that problem? Achan. You can read his story in Joshua 7:10-26. The tale is aptly titled “The Sin of Achan.”
Now to get the full gist of this we have to go back to Joshua 6. The children of Israel were finally coming into their inheritance. The first land to be conquered was Jericho. God had given them specific instructions about how they would lay siege to the city – an entire city wall fell without the men of war laying a single hand on it. A mighty shout was all it took (and the hand of God of course). Right before the shout that caused the cave-in, Joshua said this:
“Shout, for the Lord has given you the city! Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction….. And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold and vessels of bronze and iron are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord (Joshua 6:16-19).”
There were only two types of things in Jericho: those that were cursed and set for destruction and those that were set apart for God. Yet even with that clear warning right before the battle began Achan took what belonged to God. Okay, let’s be blunt. Achan stole from God. Not saved. Not sensible.
Can you steal from God? Of course not! He sees everything. He knows everything including our thoughts and the condition of our hearts. But did Achan think about that? Nope. He saw something he wanted and he did not stop to think about the consequences. He foolishly thought he could get away with it. Fast-forward a few hours.
The Israelites, feeling high after their last victory, go on to conquer Ai. But first spies are sent out into the land to check out the inhabitants. “A few men can defeat the city,” the spies excitedly report (Joshua 7:3). And so up they go sure of their victory but reaping instead a crushing defeat. This would have been a good time for Achan to go shamefacedly to the leader and confess that he had taken what belonged to God but you see, Achan was neither saved nor sensible.
Joshua is advised to tell the people to sanctify themselves. A holy God required holy people. Now let me ask you a question:
“If you had stolen something from God and you heard that he was coming to make an appearance, what would you have done?”
Achan didn’t do anything. I imagine he did the rituals, went to bed and slept like a baby while everyone else in the camp worried about what was going to happen the next day. He got up the next morning and it was business as usual.
Did he say anything to anyone?
No, because he was neither saved nor sensible.
By my count he had seven opportunities to confess before he actually did:
1. When God tells Joshua to let the people know that there is an accursed thing in their midst and that lot would be cast until the guilty is identified.
2. During the sanctification process – whatever ritual that was followed would have taken some time to complete. Had Achan been saved … this process would have brought his sin to his attention. But see, it was about the heart. His heart was not right with God and so he couldn’t see that the ritual was empty if the life is not submitted to God.
3. During the morning assembly – the mood must have been very somber as the children of Israel wondered what they had done to lose favor with El Shaddai.
4. The first lot falls on the tribe of Judah. What are the odds that Achan’s tribe was selected out of the twelve?
5. The Zarhites family is taken. Hmmm, it’s getting closer…
6. Zabdi was taken – hey that’s grandpa! This was getting a little close for comfort.
7. The next lot – uh-oh! Achan is chosen. But does he confess? No! Instead Joshua has to beg him to confess his sin. And what a confession it was.
“I saw … I coveted … I took … I hid…”
It was about the condition of his heart.
He was unable to see why all the treasure of Jericho belonged to God and so he helped himself to what was not his. Despite the time spent in the wilderness Achan had not been converted. Oh he went along with the crowd like everybody else, but his heart wasn’t in the right place. He was in the presence of God but still didn’t know who God was.
At the beginning of the post I spoke of a time when I was neither saved nor sensible. Thankfully that time is in the past. Jesus pursued me with an everlasting love and when I accepted him he saved me and began the long, arduous task of making me wise. Thank God he saw something in me worth saving so that today I can say “I am saved and on my way to being sensible."