Joshua and the battle of Jericho is a favorite Bible story among children. There is something enchanting about all-powerful God collapsing the walls of such a mighty nation. What an exciting victory! Kids are also likely to love it because there is something that seems silly about God’s instructions. He might as well have asked the Israelites to walk around the city backwards or march while hopping on one foot! Why did God give Joshua such specific instructions for taking the city? Perhaps God wanted to make clear that victory would depend on Him rather than any military might. The sounding of trumpets sang praises to the Lord as He gave Israel victory over the powerful city. When God’s path or provision in our lives seems odd or silly, perhaps He is reminding us that He is the one the delivers victory.
After such a glorious win, chapter seven offers a massive letdown. The first word of chapter seven offers a glaring picture of Israel’s missteps - “BUT the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things.” (Joshua 7:1) God had spoken very clearly in chapter six about His intentions for how the Israelites were to handle the plunder of Jericho. “But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise, you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.”
Achan’s sin caused defeat for his people. All of Israel was held accountable for sin in the camp. This offers an important lesson about how our defiance affects others. Achan’s sin was not just one of greed but of direct disobedience. After Israel’s history of distrust of God in the wilderness, the Lord needed to ensure that Israel was following his instruction and trusting His guidance. Similarly, in the New Testament, Paul warns about how sin can affect a whole body of believers: “Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?” I Corinthians 5:6
God wants us to witness his miracles! But when we let sin live in our camp, distrusting His provision and disobeying His guidance, His work will not continue in our lives and perhaps the lives of those around us.