Before capturing Jericho after the walls fell, Joshua warned the people in Joshua 6:17-19 that everything of precious metal from the city will go into the Lord’s treasury. Everything else is to be “devoted to destruction.” Taking any of those things for yourself will bring trouble on the entire camp of Israel. But one from the tribe of Judah – Achan – coveted some treasure and hid it under his tent floor (making his family culpable). So the Lord was not with them when they went to Ai.
Joshua, not knowing of Achan’s sin, falls on his face crying out to God. The Lord tells him to get up, and tells him of the sin that has brought about this defeat. So Joshua found the guilty party just as God instructed in verse 14, and Achan, his family, and all their belongings are burned. Achan’s sin cost unsuspecting warriors their lives needlessly. Greed, lies – all sin often brings harm to many besides ourselves.
Joshua surely must have felt some responsibility for the defeat at Ai as well. Where was his prayer before deciding to go to Ai? Had he consulted the Lord, he would have known of this problem and He would have told Joshua not to go.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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