The battle of Jericho is told in Joshua 6:1 — when Joshua and the people of Israel, led by priests blowing trumpets, marched around Jericho’s outer walls once a day for six straight days. Then, on the seventh day, the procession of priests and people marched around the city seven times. Upon completing the seventh lap, Joshua told the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city.” Then the Lord God did what only he could: at the unified shout of his people, the walls of Jericho crumbled and fell to the ground. The Lord God commanded that the silver, gold and containers made of bronze and iron were to taken and placed in the treasury of the Lord — all other property was devoted (marked) for destruction. Everyone obeyed — except one man. His name was Achan, and the Israelites were about to learn just how devastating the sin of one man could be.
In preparation for their next battle, Joshua sent men to spy out the land of the Amorites. Seeing that they were few in number, the spies returned to Joshua and reported that the Amorites would be easily defeated. And they would have been, except the Lord had removed his hand of protection because of Achan’s sin. So when the Israelites attacked the Amorites, it was the Amorites, and not the Israelites, who were victorious. Instead of cries of victory, the Israelite camp was filled with cries of mourning and wailing. Defeated and dejected, Joshua tore his clothes, put dust on his head, and lay with his face toward the ark of the Lord. When he asked the Lord God why they had lost the battle, the Lord replied: “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.” (Joshua 7:10-12)
Joshua called all the people to stand before him, so he could Examine them. When it was discovered that Achan had kindled the Lord’s anger, Achan confessed saying, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” (Joshua 7:20-21)
Achan deliberately disobeyed God’s command — he knew he was not to take anything from Jericho. But when he saw beautiful, valuable things, he was so attracted to the thought of possessing them that he took them, in direct disobedience to God’s command. He allowed desire, rather than discipline, to rule his heart.
Sometimes we commit subtle sins. And other times we directly disobey God’s commands. Yet too often, like Achan, rather than confess our sin, we bury it, hoping to keep it a secret. What about you? Do you know what is hidden underneath the tent of your heart? Sit before the Lord God. Give him permission to Examine your heart, and allow him to show you any areas he wants to change. The Lord God is a gentleman — he does not come at us with condemnation. Instead, cloaked in gentleness and love, he reveals what we have hidden. God already knows what we have done, so confession isn’t for him — it’s for us. Confession is the vehicle which transfers our sin from us to Jesus. Jesus becomes the new owner because he paid the price for it. Sin, once it is confessed, no longer belongs to you. So if you find yourself carrying it around, put it down — it’s not yours to carry anymore.