How important are God’s instructions? This sermon provides seven lessons we can learn from Achan's sin, when he did not follow God's instructions.
[Ken Martin] Good afternoon everyone. This afternoon I’d like you to join me by turning in your wonderful gift from God, the sacred scriptures, the Holy Bible. I’d like you to turn to the book of Joshua, a book that maybe we haven’t gone into within recent times but we need to go back to and I’d like you to just join me in Joshua 6 of the Old Testament, it’s part of the Torah. Well not actually, it’s past the Torah because you’ve got the first five books so it’s the one that comes right after the Torah and what we’re going to investigate today, we’re going to go back in time and we’re going to learn from God’s Word something that He has inspired the apostle Paul to preserve for us in his book, in the book of Romans. Romans 15:4 Romans 15:4For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
American King James Version× which I’ve mentioned many times and that is everything has been written for our learning. We are students of the Bible, we are students, disciples of Jesus Christ and there is such important emphasis on learning. If we don’t learn, we’re in trouble.
Now many times today in the education system of our world, students go to school and they don’t learn anything. And if they learn anything, they learn the wrong things! They’re not learning the basics, reading, writing and arithmetic and things of that nature, so they’re going in a different direction today in education from past generations. As a result, the Bible, likewise. To students of the Bible, God is telling us, be sure that you are learning the lessons that are written for your learning. Because if you just think it’s some kind of a talisman, it’s going to protect you from all the bad stuff out there, and I’ve got my Bible and I’ve have kind of a generic understanding.
This is one of the reasons why, at our recent General Conference of Elders, the theme was To Labor in the Word. Make yourself aware of what basically is in the various books. You don’t have to understand it all, none of us can but you can grasp certain understandings when you read certain books. If I were to say, where is the love chapter, you would automatically, most of you I think would understand 1 Corinthians 13 because it addresses the love chapter, spells it out to us. Well these are the things we need to understand about the Bible. It’s written for our learning because without it we would be lost in this world, we wouldn’t know how to go, how to function, we wouldn’t know how to live this life that God has given to us. Life is a complicated thing, man can’t figure it out. God is the only One who has the answer because He is the author of life and His life and standard is so far higher, His thoughts are so far higher than all of our combined efforts.
So what we do now when we take His Word and we go back on this Holy Sabbath to the book of Joshua, we learn some very interesting things. I’ll give you a short historical summary of what the background is leading up to what we’re going to talk about.
When the Israelites came out of Egypt they did fine for awhile, then the complaining and the arguing and “who are you Moses” all that begins to erupt and one thing leads to another and finally, to make a long story short, God who brought them out of slavery, slew them all in the desert in forty years, because they would not comply with God’s instructions. And they accused God of saying, You brought us out here so that all of our children will die with us out here. Well God heard that and what did He do? He said, let’s just flip that coin around a little bit here, why don’t we let you die out here in the wilderness and the ones you thought I was going to kill out here, I’m going to take them into the Promised Land but you yourself will never see it.
Wow, be careful what you say when you’re talking with God. God hears everything, He sees everything, He’s working out everything according to His great plan and purpose, dealing with every one of us. He knows our strong points, He knows our weak points, He’s promised never to test any of us beyond our point where we would break and just cave in. God has promised to always supply our every need and a way of escape from trials and problems that would come forth.
Now in this particular case, the only two that led into the Promised land, you know was Joshua and Caleb, because they had a different attitude. But when they came in and brought the new generation of young men and women into the Promised land, the land of Canaan, later to be called Palestine under the Romans, but Canaan in the earlier days under Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What we find is something very interesting. Before they could cross over into the Promised land they had a tremendous obstacle set in front of them. That obstacle was the city of Jericho, a defensive city of the Canaanites. It was well fortified and it would really have taken something to overthrow that city. Well that story is a story in itself and you know how God gave instructions to Joshua because really the people were not fighters, they had not learned to really do combat. That’s one of the reasons God took them a different way because there were too many fighting tribes the other way, He could have taken them a short cut but He took them around, gave time until the Amorites, their sin was to the full and then God dealt with the Amorites, got them out, then began to move the Israelite new generation into its final position.
Once they came into that land, they were given instruction by God. Priests were to do certain things, you remember the story, they were to walk around the city, then they were to do it seven times and then they were to blow the trumpets and then they were all to shout and the walls just came tumbling down. Everything just fell apart and many of those people then were killed because they ended up going in there and overthrowing the city. Well boy, the word of that just went like wildfire throughout the land because, hey, these people that just came out of Egypt, they just overthrew Jericho. See the locals only thought the people did it, they didn’t see the hand of God behind this. But the advance was on.
All right, the first major obstacle was taken out of the way. Now we have another obstacle, a smaller city called Ai, just a small city. Well Joshua figured, we’ll do the same thing, we’ll just move in there, we can take this, it should only take a handful of men by comparison but he sent out spies and they were going to spy out Ai, that’s in Joshua 7:2 Joshua 7:2And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.
American King James Version× if you’re following along with these. I’m going to move quickly for the sake of time on these.
The spies said that only two or three thousand should be sufficient to take the city because it wasn’t a big one. The only trouble was, something happened. In this small city, three thousand were sent out and lo and behold, compared to what they had just done to Jericho, they were defeated. They were defeated by this little town and their defensive forces there in Ai. Well that just created a real problem for the people and Joshua 7:4-5 Joshua 7:4-5  So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.
 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even to Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: why the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.
American King James Version× says:
Joshua 7:5 Joshua 7:5And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even to Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: why the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.
American King James Version× -…the hearts of the people melted…they literally, what in the world has happened?
How is it we’ve been defeated by this small town, their force and Joshua, realizing something was wrong here, he quickly did what – he made a plea to God. He wanted to know what went wrong. So in Joshua 7:5-9 Joshua 7:5-9  And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even to Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: why the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.
 And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust on their heads.
 And Joshua said, Alas, O LORD God, why have you at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelled on the other side Jordan!
 O LORD, what shall I say, when Israel turns their backs before their enemies!
 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what will you do to your great name?
American King James Version× it talks about that God, talking with Joshua, revealed something to him, that there was something that He referred to as “sin in the camp.” When we talk about the camp, that’s talking about the congregation of Israel. There was sin in the camp and for this reason Israel was defeated before its enemies. That God allowed the enemy to defeat His people Israel simply because there was something wrong going on within the rank and file of the people and as you read on in Joshua 7:10-12 Joshua 7:10-12  And the LORD said to Joshua, Get you up; why lie you thus on your face?  Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.  Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except you destroy the accursed from among you.
American King James Version×, God explains to Joshua what was necessary to find the sinful act that took place, the sinner who was involved.
So the tribes, the families, the households were to pass before Joshua. Joshua was to look and analyze and do what? He was to ask certain basic questions, as we say, give an investigation and ask, have any of you done anything? Just ask investigative questions and they all confirmed, no, before God everything’s fine. Just kept moving on, moving on.
Then it came to the tribe of Judah and the family of the Zarhites and finally it came to the household of Achan who was identified by God. Joshua 7:16-19 Joshua 7:16-19  So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken:
 And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken:
 And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.
 And Joshua said to Achan, My son, give, I pray you, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to him; and tell me now what you have done; hide it not from me.
American King James Version×. Now Joshua compels Achan, his name is Achan, he compels him to confess his sins, please take note of these terms that are mentioned, to confess his sin and Achan does so, Joshua 7:19-21 Joshua 7:19-21  And Joshua said to Achan, My son, give, I pray you, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to him; and tell me now what you have done; hide it not from me.  And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:  When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the middle of my tent, and the silver under it.
American King James Version×. Now let’s inject the title of the sermon so you never forget what we’re about to go through. This is called: Achan’s Sin, Lessons Not to be Forgotten. Because we’re going to look at the lessons that are mentioned in this story for our learning and it has a tremendous tremendous impact.
Joshua compels Achan to confess his sin and Achan does it. To make a long story short, what does he say? I came into this situation where I saw, I coveted and I took. Talks about the bar of silver and the clothes and so forth as you read into that story.
Achan and his household – now listen to this carefully – because of one man’s sin, Achan’s household were severely punished. Joshua 7:25-26 Joshua 7:25-26  And Joshua said, Why have you troubled us? the LORD shall trouble you this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.
 And they raised over him a great heap of stones to this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Why the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, to this day.
American King James Version×. What we begin to see here, that the Israelites easily then, once they corrected the problem, got rid of the sin out of the camp of Israel, they went back against the city and they won the battle and Ai was burned to the earth, they literally burned it to the ground.
Now lessons to be learned – what are we talking about in this whole equation? We’re talking about one man who did something that had a profound effect upon a lot of people, a lot of people. And that brings us a very important question to ask ourselves, how important are God’s instructions? Because God gave instructions and He said certain things were to be done. And this one man violated the instruction that was given. Now was that just going to be for him? What lesson do we learn from that? We learn this – the severity of sin, the seriousness, the severity of sin. When we’re dealing with God, and remember, these people are dealing with the God of the Old Testament, whom we are dealing with – the same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and God is making it clear. He says, Look, I don’t like sin, I’m a holy God and I hate sin. I hate it so much and you know what the Days of Unleavened Bread and Passover were all about, we just celebrated that.
God does not today do what He did back then. But to get the effect, to help people get the lesson, here’s what He does – He allowed this incident of Achan to become a teaching lesson for all of us. Now when you sin, you affect others and the severity of sin has wide ramifications that lead to punishment unless repented of. When we look and see what transpired here, we see that God does not immediately expose and punish sin today as He did back then. The book of Jude talks about the situation of Sodom and Gomorrah written for an example for us, for our learning, for anybody who would want to do something like Sodom and Gomorrah and we have other things that are written, again, for our learning. But what we do know is this – we have faith, without faith it is impossible to please God and we want to please our God, our Creator who gives us life. And He has told us that punishment will eventually come, book of Numbers tells us, be sure your sin will find you out.
Sin is the transgression of God’s law, God has given instruction to the Israelites that after Jericho was taken, all that was taken, as far as the spoils, was to go into the treasury of the Lord. Now when Achan reached in and took of that forbidden element, what did he do? He stole from God, because the instructions were, put it in the treasury. What did he say? I saw, I coveted, I took. And God saw it too and God identified him to Joshua.
The lessons we learn here is that punishment will eventually come when sin is involved and it’s important that we don’t sin because we don’t want that punishment. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, He will not change. If He punished then, He will punish again for sinful behavior. We recognize that in Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 Ecclesiastes 8:12-13  Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:
 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he fears not before God.
American King James Version× which tells us that just because God does not intervene suddenly – I’m paraphrasing – He just doesn’t intervene suddenly because of wrong behavior that the hearts of men are increased who want to do wrong. They think, well I got away with that one. You don’t get away with anything, we’re dealing with a God who sees all, knows all and understands the heart of human beings. And He knows Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version× is what everybody has, a heart that is deceitful above all things. Achan had that and it came out and it bit him bad. But it didn’t cost just Achan his life, it affected others. You have the example of Korah. Korah opens his mouth, speaks against Moses and remember what happened to him? He said, you take too much upon yourself seeing that everybody is holy. Korah disappeared and all that appertained to Korah disappeared, they were all affected. His opened his mouth but everybody else was affected.
Now what are we learning out of this thing? It’s telling us that punishment of sin is reserved for the sinful and we know that it is coming because God says so, “’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay’ sayeth the Lord.” He’s going to take care of it in His own due time. Hebrews 10:30-31 Hebrews 10:30-31  For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense, said the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
American King James Version× reminds us it’s going to be an absolutely terrifying day for those individuals who fall into that category.
The examples of God’s wrath on sinners are warnings of future punishment for those that don’t take God seriously. The world we live in folks doesn’t take God seriously, in fact they just think He doesn’t exist, and by thinking He doesn’t exist, they think they can just do anything and everything and they don’t realize they’re going to be held accountable for everything they do and so will we, and why we must be careful because we’ve been blessed to be on the inside understanding of what God is doing. Most people couldn’t care less. The newer generations are too busy with their cell phones and technology, they don’t have time for God. God wants us to enjoy His blessings, He doesn’t want the blessings to overpower us and dominate.
Now it is the fear of God to keep His commandments because God will bring everything into judgment. Ecclesiastes 12:13 Ecclesiastes 12:13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
American King James Version×reminds us that. So what is the first great lesson that we learned from Achan’s, a lesson not to be forgotten? That the severity of sin impacts not only the person but many other individuals as well.
Now when you think about that and you think about how that impacts in our modern day and age today and what do we have? We have problems such as families where the husband does certain things he shouldn’t do. I’m being very generic on this for the purpose, I don’t want to be more specific, I could be very specific, I think you have enough smarts to read between the lines and know what we’re talking about, but if a husband does something he shouldn’t and he goes out in an area he shouldn’t and then it suddenly comes out, that impacts his wife, his children, his family, all the relatives now know about it, it affects the children going to school saying, Oh I heard about your dad – or I heard about your mom. Or parents are affected because, Oh, I heard about your teenage son, your teenage daughter, what they did. That’s the news folks, that’s what we’re hearing today, every day. The severity of sin is impacting our world terribly and that’s why God has called us to “come out of her My people” and to recognize how dangerous this element is and that we are to live to please God our Creator. That’s the reason we live, move and have being, to serve the living God. So we see the severity of sin can really impact and cause a lot of people mental, emotional, physical problems and you can’t make those things go away just by wanting to, it takes work, it takes forgiveness of your sins. And that’s where God comes in because He’s the only one who has provided the answer for us and that is through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.
All right, lesson #2 – what happened to Achan? He died, capital punishment. God sanctions capital punishment and it’s important for us to understand that. Nobody’s going to get away from God when it’s all said and done, it says the wicked can join our hands together and God said they’re still going to be reduced to ashes; Malachi talks about that. So what we have here is a very important lesson – that capital punishment became fixed by God under all ages after the flood. Genesis 9:6-7 Genesis 9:6-7  Whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
 And you, be you fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
American King James Version× records that. And the reason for capital punishment is based on a very important aspect, that man is made in the image of God and when a person does anything to hurt another human being, made in the image of God such as to take their life knowingly and with premeditation.
We just had a case finally, a decision was made that was understood up in Massachusetts with the one surviving Jihadist, as he wants to be called or whatever it is. He was placed in a court and they gave him the death penalty. That state, Massachusetts, a very liberal state, they haven’t executed anyone since 1949, this will be the first time they do it. It’s a very liberal state, hard to believe where freedom had its birth, on Plymouth Rock and people coming into this country in the early days, that that should be such a liberal state, but it is and as a result, they saw the evidence of people walking in with no legs, no arms and the precious little lives of children snuffed out because of this guy planting that bomb. They tried to sway the audience, the jury rather, and to try and say, well he was influenced by his brother. He showed no remorse when all these charges were brought forth. Capital punishment was the right result. He hurt other human beings made in the image of God and as a result suffered a penalty for it. It was premeditated.
And now what do we learn in every case? That capital punishment is God’s way of dealing with Achan – take him out, get rid of the sin, out of the camp. Once that happened, everybody took note of that. In the earlier days, our law enforcement, in the West, used to do it a little differently. Bad guys they would hang or shoot and they would make it a city affair. You read some of the stories back there out in the West and when gangs would rob the banks and they would have a shoot-out, they would kill the bad guys, put them in their pine coffins and display and let all the young people, the kids come by and see, Oh look at him, he’s shot full of holes. Makes you stop and think, maybe I never ought to do what that guy did because I could end up like that. Or, hung on the gallows and watch them hanging up – that was designed to scare the daylights out of you, that’s why the Bible gave stoning as a power, you know it’s terrible to be stoned to death. But you can die in many different ways. Now in this particular case, what God wants us to understand, is just like He says in Romans 13:1-4 Romans 13:1-4  Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
 Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same:
 For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on him that does evil.
American King James Version× out of the New Testament. That the authorities have the power, they’ve got the sword and their purpose is to protect us from the bad guys.
Now that’s somewhat in question today, we wonder how much that protection is really going to be there when the chips are down, but for those who are honorable and trying to do the right thing, they are enforcing this. Now the argument you hear today in our brainwashed society is that capital punishment is not a deterrent so therefore we should do away with it. That comes from the Holy See in the Vatican; it comes from government officials in many countries, in Europe they all think they’re smarter now than God. God says capital punishment – but the bleeding heart cries out and says, but it’s not a deterrent to crime. Brethren, it was never a deterrent for crime, it was designed to take the criminal out of the picture. And if another one wants to come along and do a criminal act, take him out of the picture. You keep cleansing the cities, the countries, the nation by getting rid of the bad guys. No, we send them to prison, they have their rights as bad guys, even though they killed a lot of people, you know, forget that, they have their rights. We need to give them a color television, we need to give them three meals, we need to really take care of these guys. Yeah, but God says, you know, My solution is a lot better.
Guess what? Even the underworld recognizes God’s solution works! The Mafia has used it as a deterrent for a long time. How is that? They merely look at you and they say, Open your mouth and we will take care of you and your family and everyone else. I don’t know nothing! That’s a deterrent! Nobody’s going to want to cross that line. That’s what God is doing His capital punishment. You want to rape a woman? When she screams for help, you violated her – you die, plain and simple. God doesn’t play around with that because He honors womanhood, He knows she’s to be a queen in His kingdom and for somebody to defile her, he deserves death. The scriptures talk about these things.
Capital punishment was the second great lesson, it happened, there’s so many stories. But we’re focusing on Achan right now. Achan’s sin and the lessons not to be forgotten. We must remember these lessons.
The third one has to do with a sin, such as the sin Achan committed, cannot be hidden from God. God sees sin, oh wow, what’s the lesson here? He sees sin in your life, in my life, in everyone’s life and He says, you better get rid of that or it’s going to have consequences. So we have learned in our calling from God, that the goodness of God leads us to repentance and boy, if we have done something which we said we never would do or we get back to God and say, Lord, please forgive me, I’m sorry. That’s why Jesus said, when they asked him, how many times should I forgive? He said, seventy times seven, because humanly, have you ever noticed, human beings tend to repeat some of the problems they’ve had in the past? You’d like to just say it’s all gone, it’s all over, but no, it will come back to haunt you. Why? Because there are two things warring in your faction. You’ve got the mind of God that says do it this way and you’ve got a mind that is a selfish ego centered mind that says, I’ll do it my way. You’ve got to make a choice, do you do it God’s way or your way. When we fail and do it our way, boy, we have to run back to God and say, please cleanse me of that, I should not have done that…whatever that something is. I’m being very general, you fill in the missing pieces, we all do our battles personally, I’m not pointing at anyone, I’m just warning everyone, we all are on notice from God’s Word. Hebrews 4:13 Hebrews 4:13Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
American King James Version× and Proverbs 15:3 Proverbs 15:3The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
American King James Version× make it very clear that, again, sin cannot be hidden from God.
We have the account in Acts 5:1-5 Acts 5:1-5  But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
 But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
 Whiles it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? you have not lied to men, but to God.
 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
American King James Version×, when the New Testament Church started out, there was an incident, again, a husband and a wife. They contrived an idea – Ananias and Sapphira – everybody was sharing and doing things in the early stages of the Church and whatever you did, it was your responsibility; you take care of it accordingly. Well they connived, they said, Well what we’ll do is, we will put this out here and say we gave it all but we’ll hold back some. Now if they wanted to hold some back, all they had to do was say, well here, you can have all this but we’d like to hold this back here for our self. Fine and good, Peter would have said great. But because God sees the conniving, we want to look good in front of everybody so we gave all that we have when you know you’re holding back. And Peter says the famous words that dropped them right in their tracks. And why did God do it? To make a lesson known to the early New Testament Church and that was, why have you lied to the Holy Spirit? Why have you lied to God? Did you think it was somehow going to be an advantage to that? He said, you’re gone. Then the wife had a chance to fess up and she didn’t fess up, she said, no, we gave it all. All right, follow with your husband. And it says, “Great fear came over the Church of God.” You’d better believe it!
You see why we can be thankful God doesn’t do what these examples are in the Bible today? Now I’m not saying He doesn’t – I’m saying He could and He may do this to people, I can’t speak for God, that’s God’s business. But I know this business is recorded for our learning and we better not, we better be very transparent with God and we better talk to Him and tell Him exactly how we feel, when it’s good or bad, whatever it is, level with God. He sees it all, He wants to know, are you legit, can I trust you? I gave you the sermon, Has God Earned your Trust? Can you trust Him? Even when you don’t sometimes understand where He’s coming from? That’s a real test of faith.
So we are in a process of learning. Ananias and Sapphira were punished. No liars are going to come into the kingdom of God. So this becomes serious business for all of us and this is what our younger generation needs to understand because we live in a lying corrupt society today, the whole world has become corrupt. And our example is going to become paramount to our sons and daughters. Because if we’re just as corrupt as the rest of the world, then there is no difference between them and us, who are called to walk in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
All right, let’s go to lesson #4. Our sins can trouble other people. For example I gave you the example of Achan’s sin, what did it do? It caused Israel to be defeated before it’s enemies. His one action caused the nation to grind to a halt in front of its enemies. How about fathers, sons, brothers who are dead? Thirty six soldiers have died because of what Achan did when they were defeated by the people of Ai. God punished the whole family of Achan. Now in our modern day of thinking people would say, Well I didn’t do anything, what’s wrong with that – he did it, punish him but don’t punish me! Sorry, if you live in a house where this kind of stuff is going on and other people sanction that kind of behavior, it can have traumatic effect and that’s what he’s talking about here.
The whole nation lost face before the Canaanites, God punished that whole family and there are many evil sins which are not being brought forward in the lives of many people. Now what I mean by this is let’s look at the world around us and then let’s ask ourselves a very serious question – how would this apply to us? Evil effects follow the sinner, or Jesus put it this way, fruits, bad fruits follow. For example, a family can be affected. What happens if the father doesn’t execute his fatherly responsibilities in a marriage? It can affect the wife and the children. What happens if the wife doesn’t do her job? It can affect the husband and the children, all the family members. They say when a person becomes deceased, if you wrote down family names and so forth, they say at least 25 people are immediately affected by the loss of one person. That’s how we are our brother’s keeper. I mean we interface with one another more than we realize.
While the world we live in does what? Stealing, stealing. Heard of an incident not too long ago where a son stole money from his father and mother, sad situation. Why would you steal from your parents? The Bible talks about that. What about murder, lying, drunkenness, gambling, drug addition, adultery, divorce, all those things are manifestations of how other people can be affected by sins that are in the lives of human beings that are alive on this earth.
Lesson #5 – we need to understand what Achan did not do. When you stumble – see our past sins are forgiven at baptism, we’ve come to repentance, we don’t want to sin, but humanly we will from time to time slip. We will cave to the weakness of our flesh and we will say something, do something, whatever that might be and we won’t feel good about it. How do you deal with that? Do you hide it like Achan did? I saw, I took, I hid. Or, do you confess? Joshua had to, as we say, had to get it out of him, he didn’t voluntarily say, Joshua, I’m sorry, I did this. He didn’t come to Joshua, God had to finger him and bring it out in the open. Alright, the answer here is that we must learn to immediately confess our sins and not wait until we’re caught. Confess your sins and not wait until you are caught. That is so important in the eyes of God because God sees that everyone is subject to moments of weakness. But if you come crying out to God for forgiveness, He’s a loving God and He says He’s more than willing to forgive us our sins. But if we try to hide it, be sure your sin will find you out. God will bring it out.
We’ve had to go through a lot of this type of thing even in the Church of God. We’ve seen things that have happened in our spiritual family, in the Church. People have said over the years, well, I wonder why this had to happen? Because God saw sin in the body of the Church and that is something that He does not like and so He exposes things, He brings things out. Just like the Corinthians, they had a person in there that was doing a very wrong personal thing in the matter of sexuality and so what ended up happening? He said, All you people knew all about that and you didn’t do anything about it. He said, Put that individual out, turn him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit can be saved in the day of God. Well he learned his lesson in a hurry, when you get out there and you get Satan on your back, you’ll learn in a hurry that you better change. He did – 2 Corinthians talks about him having the courage to come back. And of course everybody knew what he had done. Now what do you do? You welcome him back, you don’t remind him of what has happened, he’s been forgiven by God, he’s been willing to come back, you forgive him as well.
This is so important, these lessons that are written for our learning. So it’s very important that God would have been merciful to Achan, I believe that, He would have been merciful if Achan had just ran to God and Joshua and said, “Joshua, I’m sorry, please tell God, pray for me, I’m sorry I did not mean this, I don’t want this.” But he didn’t do that. So our choices become very important in God’s eyes. Proverbs 28:13 Proverbs 28:13He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.
American King James Version× reminds us to be sorry when we’re caught is not true repentance.
That brings us to a very important part, lesson #6. This involves the body of Christ, the Church. God reminds us that He does not tolerate sin in our midst. Over the years there’s been a lot of simple things that have gone on in the body of Christ, even in our lifetime. It’s always been this way, from Ephesus all the way to Laodicea, it’s always been there, you’re always going to have the good and you’re going to have the bad. You’re going to have tares that sit in your midst, they’re going to eat with you, go to the Feast of Tabernacles with you and say that they’re brethren, but they’re not really and God knows it. He knows their heart, that they’re just playing church or part of their motive might be, I’ve got to hang on to this group because they’re going to the place of safety. Years ago people thought that was Petra – if you want to go to Petra, that’s where you’ll die, that’s not a place for people to go. God just said He would give you a place of safety. A place of safety is exactly what you have when you have a relationship with God, God will take care of whatever is necessary for all of us, He knows what to do, how to do it and when to do it. We worry about a lot of foolish things that shouldn’t be.
But there was a lot of things shuffled under the rug years ago that should never have been shuffled under the rug. People were hurt, people were offended, people lost faith, they walked away from the organized body of the Church simply because they couldn’t understand Achan and the lessons of Achan’s sin. That’s why this message is given today, a lesson that reaches far and wide into the lives of all of us. God requires that you are to purge the sinner from the congregation. That’s why we have to disfellowship people sometimes. Not that we want to, but if they’re committed to living a way contrary to God’s way, we have to say, I’m sorry, go where you want to go, but you’re not welcome here bringing that kind of attitude and that kind of conduct to the body of Christ. If this honors the Son of God and Jesus Christ is the one we are here, with God the Father, to honor and worship in spirit and truth. God does not like sin, He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. We are to keep ourselves pure, sin is not even to be named among us, according to Ephesians 5:3-6 Ephesians 5:3-6  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints;
 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
 For this you know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things comes the wrath of God on the children of disobedience.
American King James Version×.
We live in a world today, my dear brethren, that says sin doesn’t matter because they don’t even know what sin is anymore. It’s anything goes, you can do anything you want. This is what the book of Judges concludes with when it says there was no King, no guidance, no leadership and God’s Word is to guide the leadership, sets the standard for morality in our lives and it says very plainly there was no King and nobody acknowledged the King – the king being God Himself. And everyone does what’s right in their own eyes. So today we have people who do what? They say, You can’t judge me, you’re not my judge. No, I’m not, but I know who is and He doesn’t miss a trick. You can’t pull the wool over His eyes. You can’t pull the wool over His eyes, you can’t bribe a jury with Him. He says, I’ll take care of this myself, I don’t need a jury. He’s the One in charge, He sees all, He knows when people are sincerely repentant and run to Him and ask for forgiveness, they’re forgiven. But you’ve got to put your heart into it, that’s why Psalm 51 is there.
What if your sin was like David’s? You took another man’s wife, you set up her husband to get killed on the battlefield, you know David had to wrench his heart before God with tears and agony. God wanted to see, are you sincere, are you really, mean you’re sorry for what you’ve done? I mean, when you read that story about Nathan, and you can see it objectively, see exactly what is going on. He said, That man deserves death – out of his own mouth he judged himself. And then Nathan the prophet says, You are the man. Talk about shattering you into a million pieces. But David is going to be in the kingdom of God, I know that. He’s going to be the king over Israel because God forgave him his sin because He saw his heart was right. He did a terrible thing, he will probably have to hug Uriah the Hittite and say, I’m very sorry Uriah, you were a true friend and soldier and I betrayed you, please forgive me. And Uriah will, and Bathsheba and all the other mistakes we make as human beings.
It’s amazing, what a wonderful loving God. All you have to do is study King Manasseh and his life and what a rotten individual he was but when he really cried out to God, God had mercy even on him. The things he did, he shed a lot of blood and things and you’d say, Oh man, that guy, He ought to draw and quarter him and throw him away. God says, No, no, no, he’s learned his lesson. You see, it’s all through learning, lessons to be learned.
The biggest thing I can say to you folks is this; may we learn our lessons quickly without having to be punished to learn the lesson. That’s all God is asking. Look around; see what’s been going down.
That brings us to a very important area there of Achan. He didn’t give up his sin, it had to be exposed and we know in the end time, people are not going to give up their sins. It tells us in the book of Revelation, the later chapters that people will not repent of their sorceries and their pharmakeia, their drug addicts and all the other stuff. It goes on to show us very plainly that there is that perversity of human nature, that even when God is trying to reach down and bring mankind to repentance, they will fight Him and they will resist Him right to the bitter end. God says that’s your choice, just remember, you made it, it wasn’t God’s choice. Because we know that God is not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance. So God has made His will known, our choice now is do we follow God or is it over for us as individuals?
The world really doesn’t care and of course by the grace of God we know that the vast majority of mankind will learn their terrifying lessons in the future, they’ll have their chance for salvation. But what about us now? We’ve got to make these lessons stick, we can’t just say, Oh that was nice about Achan, too bad he died and anything like that but there’s a lot of spin off of this, we’ve talked about how it can affect. How do parents feel when they find out their son or their daughter stole from them, when the parents want to trust their children? Children need to know and realize you honor Daddy and Mommy, you give honor to them, that’s part of the Commandments, you don’t steal from them. You don’t steal from God. Will a man rob God? How have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings, Malachi says. There are people who rationalize, you know, they don’t need this.
All these things come home and that brings us again to an understanding, that those who try to uphold the wicked are an abomination to the Lord according to Proverbs 17:15 Proverbs 17:15He that justifies the wicked, and he that comdemns the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.
American King James Version×. If we defend those who are doing evil then God says, you’re in the wrong camp, you’re not in My camp because I’ve called you to be holy. I know you’re not but I’m going to bring you to a place where you will one day you will shine like the stars in heaven and you are going to bring forth glory and honor to Me because I will have saved you from the terrible state of affairs you have all created for yourselves. And we have. We all bear the scars of leaning to our own understanding. We have to learn to understand God much more quickly.
Lesson #7, the final one we’ll touch on at this point. Achan said, I saw, I coveted, I took. Beware of covetousness. Don’t let anything come between you and God because that is idolatry. That’s what Achan did instead of following the instruction. That’s what Colossians 3:5 Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
American King James Version× tells us. Covetousness is idolatry. You’re putting some stupid thing in place of God. Take a bar of silver, how can a bar of silver that Achan took, yes, it was nice looking, I could use that bar of silver but how can that compare to God Himself and to have a relationship with your Creator who gives you everything? Then the prophecies tell us that in Christ we will inherit everything, not just some things. Everything that He has, we will have, it’s part of our inheritance and He’s going to share it with us and say, I want you to have this, I want you to have this. I go to prepare a place for you. I want you to have this. Then it’s going to go on forever and ever and it’s never entered into our minds the fullness of the things that God has planned and prepared for us, for those that love Him and keep His commandments. That’s where we’re at.
Well to covet things in this world is foolishness because we can’t take them with us when we go, can we? You’ve got a lot of nice things that God has blessed you with? Use them, enjoy them, thank God every day for them, that you are living in a land where you are blessed like this because I know how I felt when I came from Europe and I saw that beautiful sign up there, Welcome to the United States of America. And I said, thank you dear God and I shed a tear. Because I didn’t see over there in those areas in Europe, there’s a lot of nice places, but there’s nothing like Chuck Barry used to say, “I’m so glad I’m living in the USA.” He had it all, he put it in song because anything you want, you’ve got it right here in the United States of America. And we have sold our birthright down the river, giving it to people who don’t appreciate us, leaving our own people in the lurch. Charity begins at home and we failed the test like our ancestors as a nation. One day that cord is going to be cut and when that happens, it will be a day of reckoning for the house of Israel in the end time, in Jeremiah 31 called the time of Jacob’s trouble.
Well what have we learned from these seven lessons of Achan’s sin? Let me review them very quickly. Lesson #1, the severity of sin. When it gets in the equation, there’s going to be problems. #2, that God sanctions capital punishment, contrary to what the world around us says. #3, sin cannot be hidden from God. When we violate God’s law, He sees it and He says, now what are you going to do as a result of that? #4, our sins can cause trouble for other people, have a devastating impact on family, on church, on work, on the nation as a whole, it just goes on and on and on and you see why God hates it, because He sees suffering, suffering, suffering, suffering in the hearts of men and women who don’t want to suffer. You and I are having to be taught how to suffer, suffer the way Christ did, to endure sufferings. We have to live in this world and we suffer because of it. You don’t like it, I don’t like it, we wish we didn’t have to go through it but it is through much tribulation we will enter the Kingdom of God. God says, I’ve got to know where your heart lies with Me. Are you with Me or do you want this world and all its suffering? Boy, these are thought provoking things to think about. #5, be sure to immediately confess your sins. #6, we learn that the congregation of Israel, even the Church, cannot tolerate sin. God does not want any type of sin in His church. And yet we know we stumble with it because that’s why the Church goes through its ups and downs because there are people who, they put one foot in the world, one foot in the Church of God. The last one is beware of covetousness.
The bottom line of what all I’ll end on is this statement: We pay a heavy price when we don’t follow God’s instructions, we pay a heavy price. I hope and pray to God none of us have to pay that heavy price, that we will be quick to hear what God has to say and walk humbly in the fear of our God, knowing He will take care of us. But He says, If you get out of line, I will punish. I hope we don’t get out of line.