Achan was an Israelite who disobeyed God in the time of Joshua. He stole things destined for destruction and brought condemnation on Israel.
In the Israelites’ first battle in the promised land, God had all spoils destroyed ( Joshua 6: 17-19 ). This was a holy war, to do God’s will; the goal was not to kill to get rich. By handing over all the spoils of the first battle to God, the Israelites would consecrate their mission to God.
Joshua and the Israelites destroyed Jericho and did as God had commanded: they killed all people and animals, burned the city with fire and delivered all metals to the sanctuary of God. But one person disobeyed – Achan.
In Jericho Achan he saw a beautiful cloak, some gold and silver and decided to stay with them. He took everything to his tent and hid what he had done ( Joshua 7: 20-21 ). But God saw and was very angry.
See Joshua’s story here .
The consequences of Achan’s sin
The second battle the Israelites fought was against a small town, much easier to win than Jericho. But the Israelites lost the battle and 36 men died. When Joshua asked God the reason, He replied that the Israelites had sinned against Him, keeping things consecrated for destruction ( Joshua 7: 10-12 ). To remedy the situation, the Israelites would have to destroy the stolen objects and the thief.
To reveal who had committed the sin, God commanded the Israelites to sanctify themselves. The next day, each tribe stood before God and the tribe of Judah was drawn. Among the tribe of Judah, Achan’s clan and family were chosen ( Joshua 7: 18-19 ). Finally, luck fell on Achan, who confessed his sin and revealed where the stolen objects were hidden.
So the Israelites took Achan and all his sons and daughters and stoned them. They burned the bodies, the stolen objects and everything that belonged to Achan ( Joshua 7: 25-26 ). The Israelites remained faithful to God and, after that incident, managed to overcome their enemies.
See also: what are the consequences of sin?
What was Achan’s sin?
Achan’s sin was greed. He saw the silver, gold and cloak and he could not resist the desire to steal them. But Achan was not just stealing from an enemy. Everything in Jericho was consecrated to God. By stealing some objects, Achan disobeyed God.
God had promised many blessings to His people, if they would obey Him faithfully. With his action, Achan showed that he did not respect or trust God. His heart was not faithful. We may think that God would not care about something so small, but in fact, Achan exchanged God for these objects . He thought that a little money and a cape were more valuable than loving God!
Achan’s sin had very serious consequences. 36 people died! According to the Law, anything that touched something unclean also became unclean ( Numbers 19:22 ). Thus, Achan contaminated his family, who also suffered the consequences. Achan’s hidden sin brought much disgrace.