But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.
There is an old sports saying that goes like this, “Practice makes perfect.” The more one trains the more they perfect their craft, unless of course they are practicing the wrong techniques in which case practice makes the wrong things permanent. When anyone perfects the wrong skills, they master a skill set that is actually detrimental to success and starting over to relearn proper techniques is very difficult. Practice can make “perfect,” but one must make sure they are learning the right things.
On a slightly different note, we often say, “One person can make a huge difference”. Obviously, the thought encourages individuals that they can make a unique and distinct mark on a situation, circumstance, or in the lives of other people. Conversely, we discover that one person doing the wrong things can also make a huge difference in the lives of others. The only problem is the impact of even one person can be very damaging to those around them.
Joshua 7-8 is the story of Israel’s failure to keep faith with God. He had warned them not to touch anything under the ban in their victory over Jericho. After this great and unusual victory, Israel turns their attention to a smaller town called Ai. They send a smaller force of troops, feeling confident that if they destroyed Jericho, this small city would not be a problem. This high level confidence does not help as Israel is soundly defeated and they flee for their lives; some thirty-six people are killed by the enemy (7:5). Joshua is decimated and confronts God as to why He was not faithful to His promise to give Israel a resounding victory (7:7-9). Joshua soon discovers that God is not the one who was unfaithful and broke trust, but it was Israel (7:10-15).
Here is where things get interesting. This entire dilemma was caused by one man, Achan (Joshua 7:19-21), God specifically warned Israel not to touch anything under the ban (Joshua 6:16-19). Achan, one person, decided that he was the exception to God’s command and took things under the ban. No one saw him do it but apparently, he went home and disclosed his “lucky fortune” to his family, and they hid the items under their tent.
Three things we can learn from this incident:
1. One person’s action can make a difference. We often think of that in a positive light, which is good. We have seen the difference one person of faith can make in the Bible. We also discover that one person’s actions can make a detrimental difference for God’s people too. God warned Israel that taking things under the ban would affect all Israel (6:18).
2. Sin is always personal and rarely private. Achan made the mistake of thinking that if no one saw him take the items then he got away with it. We may be able to hide things from other people, but we can never hide things from God. While it might be hard to prove, there is precedent that presumptuous sin can quench the power of God working in and through God’s people. One person crippled Israel from moving forward to possess God’s promises.
3. Repentance and reconciliation brought new blessing for God’s people. Achan and his family were not given a second chance to enter the Promised Land. But confession and repentance was critical to Israel moving forward. God restored His blessing and His power to lay hold of God’s promises.
In His grace,