Joshua 7:8
O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies?
Deep AfflictionA. B. Mackay.Joshua 7:6-9
Joshua's Plea Before the ArkW. Seaton.Joshua 7:6-9

By the narrative before us we are reminded of several characteristics of sin.

I. IT DISOBEYS A COMMANDMENT. Only two precepts had been issued at the sacking of Jericho, one to spare Rahab and her family, another to "keep from the accursed thing," and the latter precept was broken. The command was distinct, unmistakable; no difficulty in comprehending its import. Scripture defines sin as the "transgression of the law." "By the law is the knowledge of sin." A prohibition tests man's obedience perhaps even more than an injunction to perform some positive act. The tempter easily lays hold of it, keeps it before the eye, irritates man's self will, and insinuates doubts respecting the reason of the prohibition. Christ endorsed the moral law of the old dispensation - nay, made it even more stringent; but He altered the principle of obedience, or, better still, increased the power of the motives to compliance. When we sin we still transgress a law, and sins of wilful commission are, in number, out of all proportion to sins of ignorance.

II. SIN IS OFTEN THE EFFECT OF COVETOUS DESIRES. - Achan saw, coveted, and took (ver. 21). The seeing was innocent; the dwelling on the object of sight with desire was sinful. "Coveted" is the same word as used in Genesis 3:6. "Saw... a tree to be desired." "When lust (desire) hath conceived it bringeth forth sin." The outward object has no power to make us fall except as it corresponds to an inward affection. If the object be gazed upon long, the affection may be inordinately excited, and desire produce sinful action. Hence the counsel of the wise man regarding "the path of the wicked: .... Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away." It is not mixing in the world to perform our duties that is reprobated, nor even that amount of care which shall secure us an honourable position therein; but such an intent fixing of the eye upon riches, honour, pleasure, as denotes a love of the world and the things that are in it. Our affection must be set on things above as the best preservation against the influence of unholy passions; for where the heart is occupied, there evil finds it hard to effect a lodgment.

III. SIN ROBS GOD. - All the metals were to be brought to the treasury, to be dedicated to the use of Jehovah (Joshua 6:19). But Achan wished to appropriate a portion to his own ends, thus taking what belonged to God. He set up self in opposition to his God. Sin deprives God not only of gold, but of honour, love, obedience, and the use of those talents committed to men, that they may be faithful servants and stewards, not sordid proprietors. From the sinner's heart ascends no sweet incense of faith and love; in the household of the worlding there is no family altar with its grateful offering of prayer and praise; the body of the unbeliever, instead of being a temple of God, is part of the kingdom of darkness.

IV. SIN IMPLIES A DELIGHT IN WHAT GOD ABOMINATES. The possessions of the Canaanites were placed under the ban; they were denominated "the accursed thing." The Babylonish garment was to have been burnt, and the silver and gold could only be redeemed from the curse by being set apart for sacred uses. The very fact that the Almighty had condemned the property should have been sufficient to deter any one from seeking to seize it. And so with us; regard for our Father in heaven ought at once to make us shun what He has declared hateful, and look upon it with aversion; and belief in His unerring discernment should cause us readily to acquiesce in His judgment, even if at first sight the places and practices condemned do not appear hideous or sinful. The grievous nature of sin is evinced in its betrayal of a hankering after what the laws of God denounce, and consequently its revelation of a character differing from that of God, loving what is unlovely in His sight.

V. SIN IN GOD S PEOPLE IS A VIOLATION OF A COVENANT. Achan had transgressed the "covenant" (vers. 11 and 15), or, as it is expressed in ver. 1, had "committed a trespass " - i.e., a breach of trust - had acted faithlessly. Jericho, as the first city taken, was to be made an example of, and therefore none of the spoil was to accrue to the Israelites, but the plunder of other cities was to be allowed to enrich them. Yet Achan disregarded the understood agreement. Nor must it be forgotten that Israel stood in a peculiar relationship to the Almighty, who promised to bless them if they adhered to the terms of the covenant, which required them to be very obedient unto every commandment which the Lord should give by the mouth of His accredited messengers. A similar covenant is reaffirmed under the gospel dispensation, only it is pre-eminently a covenant of grace, not of works. Jesus died that they who lived should henceforth live unto Him who died for them. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added unto you," was the stipulation of the great Teacher. To "sin wilfully" is to count the blood of the covenant wherewith we axe sanctified an unholy thing (Hebrews 10:29). Jesus is the Mediator of a "new covenant." The same epistle concludes with a prayer that the God who, in virtue of the blood of the everlasting covenant, raised Christ from the dead, may perfect His people in every good work, that thus on both sides the "conditions" may be observed.

VI. SECRECY IS THE USUAL ACCOMPANIMENT OF SIN. Achan did not wear the "garment" or exhibit the "gold," but hid his plunder "in the earth in the midst of his tent" (ver. 21). The attempt to cloak sin may arise either from a feeling of shame, or from the fear of detection and punishment. This last is a baser motive than the first. Shame is an evidence that the man is not wholly bad, that the voice of conscience has not been totally silenced. That after the Fall our first parents did not set their faces;like a flint was a testimony that evil had not acquired complete mastery over them. Oh that men visited with these compunctions of conscience would attend to the self attesting nature of sin! We may rejoice in the endeavour to conceal crimes, so far as it indicates that society is not yet so corrupt as unblushingly to acknowledge sin as such. Since God mentions the "dissembling" of Achan as aggravating his offence, it is probable that he was afraid of the vengeance which discovery would bring upon his head. Already sin was inflicting its punishment. There could not be open, unrestrained fruition of ill-gotten gains. Rejoicing naturally demands the presence of others to share our joy, and by participation to increase the common stock; but there can be no such gathering to greet the result of sins, for they -

"The cloak of night being plucked from off their backs,
Stand bare and naked, trembling at themselves." Conclusion. Thankfulness for a Saviour, born to "save his people from their sins," the Light of the world revealing our natural dark, degraded condition, but bringing to us, if we will bask in His rays, knowledge, purity, and happiness. "God be merciful to me a sinner," the prelude to "They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy." - A.

Joshua... fell... before the ark of the Lord.
The ark was the centre of mercy to Israel, and the glory of the tabernacle, their refuge in trouble, their security in danger, and their deliverance in distress. Here they mourned, and made supplication, where the cause only could be known, where relief only could come. From hence had proceeded all their pardons, their conquests, and possessions. But for the ark and the mercy-seat above, its propitiatory covering, Israel had been a lost people, and long had perished in want or conflict. No such seat of grace and habitation of mercy in At. The God of glory was still in the sanctuary of His people, though an accursed thing was in the camp. And where but to God in Christ, the true ark of the covenant and token of His gracious presence, can the afflicted, the oppressed, or the convicted go? This is their peculiar privilege, their constant need, and their never-failing resource. The pleadings of Joshua are a fine specimen and example of a true supplicatory spirit. It was before the ark, that grand and expressive type of Christ. Nothing in the worship of the spiritual sanctuary, no act of prayer or praise, no penitential pleadings or humiliations, can be acceptable, but as offered in the name, and through the mediation, of our Divine and glorious peace-maker, the Lord Jesus. Though the fears and apprehensions of unbelief mingle some infirmity with the pleadings of this great intercessor for Israel, yet there is impressive beauty and strength in his expressions, but in none so much as those which discover a mind tenderly affected for the glory of God, the honour of His name, and the prevalence of His truth. "What wilt Thou do unto Thy great name?" Oh! this was the grand point, the highest consideration, and beyond which pleading could not go. This failing, no other could avail. And still here is all the force of pleading, as from it all the cause of prevailing. This name, with all its glory and honour, is in Christ known to the Church and published to the world, a name ever dear to God, and dearer than a thousand worlds. This will prevail above all the distresses of the Church, all the triumphs of her enemies. Peace and pardon, and every blessing of providence, grace and glory, are insured to the believer, so that he who rests here can never perish or be conquered.

(W. Seaton.)

When Achilles heard of the death of Patrocius his grief was so great that he cast himself on the ground as one that could not be comforted.

"With both his hands black dust he gathers now,

Casts on his head and soils his comely brow,

Foul ashes cling his perfumed tunic round,

His noble form lies stretched upon the ground."Here we have a grief similarly expressed, but more pathetic and noble. Joshua shows here again that he was a perfect leader. In all the affliction of the people he is afflicted. All the feeling of dismay in the camp is concentrated, as it were, in him. His great capacity for leadership gives him greater capacity for suffering. Thus is it always. He who is most interested in the cause of Christ, he whose heart is most enthusiastic, will be most east down by defeat. The man whose soul is most sensitive to sin, most fully alive to the commandments of God and the demands of truth, has the keenest sensibility, and therefore suffers most in a region of rebellion. That is to say, the more real spiritual life there is in the soul, the more suffering must there be. The sorrow of Jesus is the deepest because the love of Jesus is the highest. Joshua's sorrow, it is very plain, was sincere and unfeigned. There was no acting here. And his grief was as unselfish as it was sincere. His chief sorrow is for the people. Their fate, their prospects, are his chief concern. Joshua's perplexity is very great. This indeed is the biggest element in his trouble, and two parallel questions manifest it — "What shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies?" (ver. 8), and "What wilt Thou do unto Thy great name?" (ver. 9). If things continue as they are, and lead to their natural issues, in regard to Thy ways. What shall I say? What conclusion am I to come to? What construction am I to put on this event? Joshua makes no allowance for defeat. The chances of the glorious game of war have no place in his reckoning. Joshua cannot reconcile this defeat, unimportant though it may seem to some, with three grand facts wherein lay his chief confidence. The fact of the Divine presence — "Is God with us after all?" he might ask. The fact of the Divine promise — "Has God indeed spoken?" The fact of the Divine power — "Is God able to give unbroken victory?" The sad fact of defeat seemed to go in the face of these other facts. But to Joshua these other facts were as patent as that over which he mourned; hence his consternation. He is dumbfounded. And surely this noble sorrow, this believing consternation of Joshua, should be a reproof to many. We believe that there are individuals and congregations who would be more perplexed and confounded by a spiritual victory than by a spiritual disaster. But Joshua had a second question, which is the expression of a still deeper cause of perplexity. His first question, "What shaft I say?" rose from his faith in God. His second question, "What wilt Thou do unto Thy great name?" arose from his fidelity to God. Thus Joshua's second question becomes a powerful plea before God, commanding His attention and drawing forth a reply. And it is well to notice here for our encouragement in any spiritual emergency that in the very trouble of Joshua's soul there exists the germ of good hope. Joshua, just because he knows, feels, and owns his trouble before God, is every moment helping forward the solution of the difficulty. To know that we are beaten may be a bad thing in ordinary warfare; hence Napoleon's complaint against the British troops; but it is not so in the spiritual fight; rather is it essential to continued success. Let us imitate Joshua in his godly sorrow. But trouble came upon Israel as well as upon their leader. As a single grain of colouring matter will tinge gallons of water, so one sin will affect a whole people. Achan's transgression influenced for evil the whole of that nation. His little leaven leavened the whole lump. No man can confine the effects of any sin within the small compass of his own personal experience. Just as in the heart of a rich city a collection of squalid and filthy dens may spread disease and death in its finest mansions, so the wicked, wherever found, become centres of spiritual infection, and no soul near them is safe; hence, just as men wisely seek in self-defence to improve the physical conditions of the poorest dwellings, so should we, if for no other motive than the preservation of our own spiritual health, labour in all directions, and in every possible way, to improve and elevate the masses. And if this principle holds in the body politic, much more powerfully does it manifest itself in the body mystic, i.e., the Church of the living God. Here the influence of sin is most acutely and quickly felt. Hence the constant care that should be manifested in casting out every particle of the leaven of sin. He who takes heed to his own heart and life, keeping them clean and pure in the sight of God, edifies the brethren, and is health and strength and joy to all the body of Christ. He who is careless and sinful, must, like Achan, be a troubler of the house of God. Yes, and he himself must be miserable. What joy had Achan in all his ill-gotten gains? The rust of gold, like some strong Satanic acid, ate into his soul, to his unspeakable torture. Every transgressor sooner or later will find, like Achan, that in every sin lies its own punishment, and therefore escape is impossible. And Achan's act had an evil influence upon the Canaanites as well as on himself and Israel. The effect of this defeat at Ai would be to harden their hearts, to make them persist in their rebellion. How often does the success of the wicked turn out their destruction. Applying these things to the work of the Lord in our days, we are reminded by the effect of Achan's sin on these Canaanites of the evil that is brought on the world through the unfaithfulness of professing Christians. We must remember that not only the honour of the Master and the prosperity of the Church are connected with our faithfulness, but also, to no inconsiderable extent, the spiritual state of the world around. Therefore let us take heed as we name the name of Christ to depart from all iniquity, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord.

(A. B. Mackay.)

Achan, Amorites, Canaanites, Carmi, Israelites, Joshua, Zabdi, Zarhites, Zerah, Zerahites, Zimri
Ai, Beth-aven, Bethel, Jericho, Jordan River, Shebarim, Shinar, Valley of Achor
Ah, Attackers, Backs, Enemies, Neck, O, Oh, Routed, Turn, Turneth
1. The Israelites are smitten at Ai
6. Joshua's complaint
10. God instructs him what to do
16. Achan is taken by the lot
19. His confession
24. He and all he had are destroyed in the valley of Achor

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Joshua 7:8

     1230   God, the Lord

Joshua 7:1-16

     6024   sin, effects of

Joshua 7:1-26

     6173   guilt, and God
     8479   self-examination, examples

Joshua 7:7-8

     8726   doubters

Joshua 7:7-9

     8605   prayer, and God's will

Achan's Sin, Israel's Defeat
'But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel. 2. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth-aven, on the east side of Beth-ei, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. 3. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Whether one Can, Without a Mortal Sin, Deny the Truth which Would Lead to One's Condemnation?
Objection 1: It would seem one can, without a mortal sin, deny the truth which would lead to one's condemnation. For Chrysostom says (Hom. xxxi super Ep. ad Heb.): "I do not say that you should lay bare your guilt publicly, nor accuse yourself before others." Now if the accused were to confess the truth in court, he would lay bare his guilt and be his own accuser. Therefore he is not bound to tell the truth: and so he does not sin mortally if he tell a lie in court. Objection 2: Further, just as
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Contention Over the Man Born Blind.
(Jerusalem.) ^D John IX. 1-41. [Some look upon the events in this and the next section as occurring at the Feast of Tabernacles in October, others think they occurred at the Feast of Dedication in December, deriving their point of time from John x. 22.] ^d 1 And as he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. [The man probably sought to waken compassion by repeatedly stating this fact to passers-by.] 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Eighth Commandment
Thou shalt not steal.' Exod 20: 15. AS the holiness of God sets him against uncleanness, in the command Thou shalt not commit adultery;' so the justice of God sets him against rapine and robbery, in the command, Thou shalt not steal.' The thing forbidden in this commandment, is meddling with another man's property. The civil lawyers define furtum, stealth or theft to be the laying hands unjustly on that which is another's;' the invading another's right. I. The causes of theft. [1] The internal causes
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Confession of Sin --A Sermon with Seven Texts
The Hardened Sinner. PHARAOH--"I have sinned."--Exodus 9:27. I. The first case I shall bring before you is that of the HARDENED SINNER, who, when under terror, says, "I have sinned." And you will find the text in the book of Exodus, the 9th chap. and 27th verse: "And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked." But why this confession from the lips of the haughty tyrant? He was not often wont to
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857

Restraining Prayer: is it Sin?
"Thou restrainest prayer before God."--JOB xv. 4. "What profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?"--JOB xxi. 15. "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you."--1 SAM. xii. 23. "Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you."--JOSH. vii. 12. Any deep quickening of the spiritual life of the Church will always be accompanied by a deeper sense of sin. This will not begin with theology; that can only give expression to what God works
Andrew Murray—The Ministry of Intercession

The Practice of Piety in Glorifying God in the Time of Sickness, and when Thou Art Called to Die in the Lord.
As soon as thou perceivest thyself to be visited with any sickness, meditate with thyself: 1. That "misery cometh not forth of the dust; neither doth affliction spring out of the earth." Sickness comes not by hap or chance (as the Philistines supposed that their mice and emrods came, 1 Sam. vi. 9), but from man's wickedness, which, as sparkles, breaketh out. "Man suffereth," saith Jeremiah, "for his sins." "Fools," saith David, "by reason of their transgressions, and because of their iniquities,
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Exposition of the Moral Law.
1. The Law was committed to writing, in order that it might teach more fully and perfectly that knowledge, both of God and of ourselves, which the law of nature teaches meagrely and obscurely. Proof of this, from an enumeration of the principal parts of the Moral Law; and also from the dictate of natural law, written on the hearts of all, and, in a manner, effaced by sin. 2. Certain general maxims. 1. From the knowledge of God, furnished by the Law, we learn that God is our Father and Ruler. Righteousness
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Of a Private Fast.
That we may rightly perform a private fast, four things are to be observed:--First, The author; Secondly, The time and occasion; Thirdly, The manner; Fourthly, The ends of private fasting. 1. Of the Author. The first that ordained fasting was God himself in paradise; and it was the first law that God made, in commanding Adam to abstain from eating the forbidden fruit. God would not pronounce nor write his law without fasting (Lev. xxiii), and in his law commands all his people to fast. So does our
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The Knowledge of God
'The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.' I Sam 2:2. Glorious things are spoken of God; he transcends our thoughts, and the praises of angels. God's glory lies chiefly in his attributes, which are the several beams by which the divine nature shines forth. Among other of his orient excellencies, this is not the least, The Lord is a God of knowledge; or as the Hebrew word is, A God of knowledges.' Through the bright mirror of his own essence, he has a full idea and cognisance
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Beth-El. Beth-Aven.
Josephus thus describes the land of Benjamin; "The Benjamites' portion of land was from the river Jordan to the sea, in length: in breadth, it was bounded by Jerusalem and Beth-el." Let these last words be marked, "The breadth of the land of Benjamin was bounded by Jerusalem and Beth-el." May we not justly conclude, from these words, that Jerusalem and Beth-el were opposite, as it were, in a right line? But if you look upon the maps, there are some that separate these by a very large tract of land,
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The Covenant of Works
Q-12: I proceed to the next question, WHAT SPECIAL ACT OF PROVIDENCE DID GOD EXERCISE TOWARDS MAN IN THE ESTATE WHEREIN HE WAS CREATED? A: When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge upon pain of death. For this, consult with Gen 2:16, 17: And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The Holiness of God
The next attribute is God's holiness. Exod 15:51. Glorious in holiness.' Holiness is the most sparkling jewel of his crown; it is the name by which God is known. Psa 111:1. Holy and reverend is his name.' He is the holy One.' Job 6:60. Seraphims cry, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.' Isa 6:6. His power makes him mighty, his holiness makes him glorious. God's holiness consists in his perfect love of righteousness, and abhorrence of evil. Of purer eyes than
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Second Great Group of Parables.
(Probably in Peræa.) Subdivision F. Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. ^C Luke XVI. 19-31. [The parable we are about to study is a direct advance upon the thoughts in the previous section. We may say generally that if the parable of the unjust steward teaches how riches are to be used, this parable sets forth the terrible consequences of a failure to so use them. Each point of the previous discourse is covered in detail, as will be shown by the references in the discussion of the parable.]
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The book of Joshua is the natural complement of the Pentateuch. Moses is dead, but the people are on the verge of the promised land, and the story of early Israel would be incomplete, did it not record the conquest of that land and her establishment upon it. The divine purpose moves restlessly on, until it is accomplished; so "after the death of Moses, Jehovah spake to Joshua," i. 1. The book falls naturally into three divisions: (a) the conquest of Canaan (i.-xii.), (b) the settlement of the
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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