The fall of Jericho was followed by the temporary fall of Israel. We have much need to beware of the dangers of success.
When Uzaiah was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction according to (II. Chr.26:16).
The seed of pride and self-confidence is often sown in the joyful, but unguarded hour of victory, or amidst the dangerous applause of men “And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.” (Ac.12:2122).
There are still Achan desires working in the heart, just waiting a chance to enrich themselves with the things that are to be wholly devoted to God “Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing,” (chap. 6:17).
Sin always brings failure. To lose fellowship with Christ is to lose all power for testimony for Him “ But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Ac.1:8) There are many great thoughts here in this setting….
First, the shameful defeat of Israel. It was Unexpected. They said, “Let not all the people go up ” (chap. 3).
They were very confident of success, but very ignorant of their own condition in the sight of God “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Ps:8:4).
Confidence and earnestness in a Christian worker will never stand in the stead of holiness, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Heb.12:14).
Our power lies not even in our past experiences. Is your heart right with God? That is the real question, Note what the apostle Peter said unto Ananias In (Ac.5:4) “why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.”
Even unexpected failure has its tap-root of evil somewhere.
Secondly Complete. “They fled before the men of Ai” (v. 4). Why did they flee? Because the Lord was not with them.
There is none so helpless as the Samsons when their strength is gone,“And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.” (Jud.16:20).
The man whose strength God alone is, must ever be a helpless object without Him “for without me ye can do nothing.”(John 15. 5).
Look how He helped at Jericho. But the past is not the present. Each day we must live by faith “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:“ (Eph,2:8)
All our efforts will be unfruitful unless the presence and power of God is in it.
We do not win the victory simply because we are Christians any more than the children of Israel did because they were Israelites.
We must be Christians after the holy mind and will of God if we would be over comers “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col 3:12).
Thirdly, We must be Humble. “0 Lord, what shall I say ? ”(v. 8). Israel’s failure brings dishonor upon Israel’s God.
How keenly our failures should cut us to the heart when we know that by them our Master is ‘dishonoured.
How we should bow our heads to the dust, confounded and ashamed, saying, like Joshua, “0 Lord, what shall I say 1” If past failure does not bring humbling and self searching before God we will never find out the true source of power.
Those who expect failure are never humbled because of it, and by them the Lord is not magnified in the sight of the people. “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Fourthly, Needful. “Wherefore best thou upon thy face ? Israel hath sinned. Neither will I be with you except ye take away the accursed thing” (v. 10-13).
Many are mourning over their failure who have more need to mourn over their sin.
The Lord cannot use us at times because of secret sin. Although we may be ignorant of it, God is not. He cannot treat sin lightly because we don’t realize it. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Ac.17:30).
If they had not failed here they would just have gone on in their sin. God can have no fellowship with unrighteousness. The accursed thing must be taken away or His presence will be taken away. “for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”(II.Cor. 6:14).
Our failures should set us also a searching of the tent of our heart. “Search me, 0 God !
Let take a look at the Sin of Achan, or the sinner doom.
Note his desire, “I saw, then I coveted them” (v. 21). Sin often begins with a look.
Eve saw the fruit, Lot saw the well watered plains, Ahaz saw an altar and copied it (2 Kings 16. 10).
But Achan’s sin lay not in seeing the gold, perhaps he could not help that, but he “coveted them”
He loved the forbidden gain, until, desire moved his hand.
The pleasures of sin will always attract the more when one Iooks on them with a desire. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (Ja.1:14,15).
Christians have much need to watch their hearts.
Certain circumstances might bring ruinous results if every thought is not led captive to Christ.
Note his disobedience. “He took of the accursed thing” (v. 1). God had warned them in any wise to keep themselves free from the accursed thing (chap. 6: 18). He sinned willingly, not ignorantly. The fact that he hid the goods proves that he was conscious of his wrongdoing. “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?” (Gen.3:10,11).
Just as many still willingly disobey God by preferring the world to Christ, and ofttimes keeping up the appearance of godliness to deceive men.
Achan’s hypocrisy is not uncommon in these days, even among professedly workers for Christ. Although the Lord has clearly said, “Love not the world,” (I.Jh.2:15) alas, how much of it is hid in the heart !
Note his detection. “And Achan was taken” (v. 18). Be sure your sin will find you out, whether you be saint or sinner, Christian or not “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. “ (Ja.4:17).
Amongst all the thousands of Israel he was found out, because nothing is hid from the eye of God, with whom every sinner has to do.
How solemn the discovery, exposed to the eyes of all the people, and every hidden thing brought to light. What a forecast of the Great judgment.
Let us look at his destruction “And all Israel stoned him with stones” (v. 25).
There was no way of escape.? “How shall escape, if we neglect so great salvation;” (Heb.2:3).
What a contrast between Rahab’s house and Achan’s. The one saved, the other lost (chap. 6. 25). The faith of the one and the disobedience of the other made all the difference.