Joshua 6 and 7 contain the tragic story of Achan's sin. Achan, one man, sinned by stealing a garment, 200 shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold during the heat of battle after having been instructed that all the booty from Jericho was devoted to God (Joshua 6:17-19; 7:1, 20-21). He had no accomplices, and no one saw him do it. Nonetheless, Israel's army became paralyzed with fear when they attacked the little city of Ai (verses 4-5). Joshua faltered and became confused (verses 6-9). Thirty-six men died—wives were widowed and children lost fathers. In the end, Achan's entire family was destroyed, even though they were innocent of his sin.
The whole nation was affected! When God analyzed Achan's sin, He saw it as a national sin (verses 10-12). The sin of one part was the sin of the whole. When one failed, they all failed. We need to pay more attention to this approach because it is part of the "one body" analogy. We should also notice that God was personally involved. It was after all, His nation, His church, and its conduct is of intense concern to Him. This story also contains a clear illustration of sin's leavening effect. Until a correction was made, it did not just lie there and die. Its effect increased.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Little Things Count!
One man's sin! There were no accomplices. Nobody even saw him do it, yet Israel's army became paralyzed with fear. Joshua faltered and became confused. The whole nation was affected. Thirty-six men died. Thirty-six women became widows. And how many children no longer had a father?
One might say that the sin was somewhat atoned for. When they found out what Achan had done, Achan and his family (who were innocent of the deed) were put to death. When God saw it, however, He analyzed the sin according to different standards. He was dealing with His people, and He wanted to make sure that a witness was made—so that there would be information for those of His church in the end time.
God takes a personal interest in His people. Things happen out in the world, and He seems to do nothing. But when things happen within His church, He is concerned for the well-being of His people, and He takes action.
What we see here is a clear beginning of "the body" analogy that later becomes so important to the church in the New Testament. He shows us plainly that sin has a natural leavening effect. It increases; it will not just lie there and die. Corrections must be made to ensure that it does not spread, affecting others.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Every Action Has a Reaction