Joshua 7 Outline

Achan takes of the accursed and devoted thing: God is angry with Israel, 1. Joshua sends three thousand men against Ai; they flee, and thirty-six are slain, 2-5. Joshua complains to God; who discovers the cause, and enjoins a lot, 6-15. Achan is found guilty: Joshua’s advice, and his confession, 16-21. He and his are stoned and burnt: the place named The valley of Achor, 22-26.

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  1. Jonathan Edwards, “Notes on Scripture”: ” Joshua 7. Concerning Achan, the troubler of Israel. Achan was that to the congregation of Israel, that some lust or way of iniquity indulged and allowed, is to particular professors. Sinful enjoyments are accursed things: wherever they are entertained God’s curse attends them. The cursed things that Achan took, were a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge fifty shekels weight, that when he saw he coveted. So the objects of men’s lusts, which they take and indulge themselves in the enjoyment of, are very tempting and alluring, appearing very beautiful, and seeming very precious. Achan took those and hid them in his tent underground, so that there was no sign or appearance of them aboveground, they were concealed with the utmost secrecy. So very commonly the sins that chiefly trouble professors, and provoke God’s displeasure, and bring both spiritual and temporal calamities upon them, are secret sins, as David calls them, hidden by some lust, as Achan’s, as it were underground. Lust is exceedingly deceitful, and will hide iniquity, and cover it over with such fair pretences and excuses, that it is exceedingly difficult for persons to discover them, and to be brought fully to see and own their fault in them. The silver and gold was covered over with the goodly Babylonish garment; (as it is said the silver was under it;) so persons are wont to cover their secret wickedness with a very fair hypocritical profession: an hypocritical profession is a Babylonish or antichristian garment. It is the robe of the false church. God charges Israel not only with stealing, but dissembling, when Israel had transgressed in the accursed thing; and God was not among them; they were carnally secure and self-confident, they thought a few of them enough to subdue the inhabitants of Ai; which represents the frame that professors are commonly in when they indulge some secret iniquity. But they could not stand before their enemies, they were smitten down before them; so, when professors secretly indulge some one lust, it makes them universally weak they lie dreadfully exposed to their spiritual enemies, and easily fall before them. The congregation seem to wonder what is the matter that God hides himself from them; so Christians oftentimes, when they are going on in some evil way that the deceitfulness of sin hides from them, wonder what is the reason that God hides himself from them. They lay long upon their faces, crying to God without receiving any answer. So when persons harbour any iniquity, it is wont to prevent any gracious answer to their prayers: their prayers are hindered, their iniquity is a cloud through which their prayers cannot pass. When they were troubled and destroyed, they took a wrong course they betook themselves to prayer and crying to God, as though they had nothing else to do, whereas their first and principal work ought to have been diligently to have inquired whether there was not some iniquity to be found among them, as implied, Joshua 7:10. So Christians, when God greatly afflicts them, and hides his face from them, and manifests his anger towards them, are commonly wont to do: they cry, and cry to God, as if they had nothing else to do, but still secretly entertain the troubler, and it never comes into their hearts to inquire, Am I not greatly guilty with respect to such a practice or way that I allow myself in, in my covetousness, or in my proud, or contentious, or sensual, or peevish and froward behaviour? God mentions it as an aggravation of the sin of the congregation in Achan, that they had even put the accursed thing among their own stuff; so, when professors allow themselves in any unlawful gain, or enjoyment, they commonly put it among those things that are theirs, that they may lawfully enjoy or make use of. If men continue in such evil ways, and do not depart from them, they are ruinous to the soul, however they may plead that they think there is no hurt in them. There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. So God says to Israel, Joshua 7:12, ‘Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed thing from among you.’ God directed the congregation of Israel to make diligent search in order to find out the troubler: all were to be examined, tribe by tribe, and family by family, and man by man. So when God hides his face from us and frowns upon us, we ought diligently and thoroughly to examine all our ways, and to take effectual care that none escape thorough examination; to examine them first in their several kinds, as they may be classed with respect to their objects, views, and otherwise, and then to proceed to a more special examination and inquiry, and never leave until we have thoroughly examined every particular way and practice; yea, to examine act by act, and to bring all before God, to be tried by him, by his word and Spirit, as all Israel was brought before the Lord to be tried by him. By this means Achan was thoroughly discovered, and brought to confess his wickedness; so, if we be thorough in trying our ways, and bringing all to the test of God’s word, seeking the direction of his Spirit also with his word, it is the way to discover the sin that troubles us, and thoroughly to convince the conscience, and make it plainly to confess the iniquity. The congregation after they had found out the accursed thing, they brought it out of the earth and out of the tent, and spread it before the Lord. So persons, when they have found out the sin that has troubled them, should confess their sins and spread them before the Lord. And we must not content ourselves only with confessing the sin to God, but must deal with it as the children of Israel did with Achan; we must treat it as a mortal, and most hateful, and pernicious enemy; we must turn inveterate, implacable enemies to it; must have no mercy on it; must not spare it at all, or be afraid of being too cruel to it; must aim at nothing short of the life of it, and must resolve utterly to destroy and extirpate it; we must as it were stone with stones, and burn it with fire. So Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord. (See Notes on 1 Samuel 15:32-33. See also 2 Corinthians 7:11.) And we must not only destroy that sin, but all its offspring, its whole family, and its oxen and asses, and all that belongs to it, every thing that springs from it, every evil that has attended or sprung from it; we must serve them all alike, and as this was done to Achan, not only by a particular individual, but by all Israel, so we must do it with all our hearts and souls; we must be full in it; there must be nothing in our hearts that is favourable to the troubler, or that has not a hand in its death. Israel, after they had thus slain the troubler, raised over him a great heap of stones, as a monument of what had been. So when we have slain the troubler, we must keep a record of the mischief we received by the sin, to be a constant everlasting warning to us to avoid it, and every thing of that nature, for the future. This is the way to have the Lord turn from the fierceness of his anger.”

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