"But the people of Israel broke faith in regard the devoted things...And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel."
After examining the faithfulness of the Israelites in circumcising the men and the destruction of Jericho, it is hard to read of the sin of Achan. Joshua told the people that everything in Jericho, with the exclusion of Rahab and her family, was devoted to either destruction or placed in the treasury of the LORD. If they took any of the devoted items, the camp of Israel would itself become a thing of destruction and trouble would come upon the people.
Don't you know after crossing the Jordon on dry ground and watching the walls of Jericho crumble, the nation of Israel was pretty confident nothing could stand in their way? God had taken care of the big stuff, why trouble Him over something so trivial as Ai. A small group of Isreali warriors would be more than enough destroy such a small town.
When I read of events like this one in the Bible, I am always convicted. I, too, tend to think I can handle the small things of life without His help. Jesus did understand our nature, didn't He? "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
The LORD tells Joshua the people cannot stand before their enemies because of their sin. Since they have broken the covenant, He will no longer remain with them until they destroy what He set apart for destruction. God commanded everything Achan possessed to be destroyed, just as He had commanded of Jericho.
How significant is sin to God? We tend to think of sin as an individual concern, but the sin of this one man had consequences not just for himself and his family but on the whole congregation of Israel.
Achan reminds me of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-8. Because they lied to the Holy Spirit about the amount they gave the apostles for the sale of land, God struck both of them dead. Acts 5:11 says a "great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things." I would imagine the same was true for the nation of Israel because of what God required of them due to the sin of Achan.
Lord God, forgive us for treating sin lightly. Not only does the cross demonstrate Your love, it also proves Your judgment of sin. May we see the sin in our lives as You do. Holy Spirit, please give us eyes to see the consequences of our sin in ourselves and on those we love. Convict and strengthen us to put off the sin in our lives that ultimately cost Jesus His life.