The people of Jericho worshipped idols, so God was “angry” when Achan took one of their cursed things (7:1cf.6:16-18). He got angry at all Israel because He’d warned all Israel about this in advance (Deut.7:25,26). But Joshua didn’t know the whole camp was cursed, so he began to plan the at-tack on the next city that needed to be conquered (Josh.7:2).
The spies he sent to Ai thought only a few thousand men would be needed to conquer that city, because they knew God promised that a few of them would chase thousands of their enemies if they obeyed God (Lev.26:3-8). But, like Joshua, they didn’t know Achan hadn’t obeyed God, so their recommendation failed (Josh.7:4), and Israel’s enemies chased them (cf.Lev.26:15,17). Sadly, 36 Jewish soldiers paid for Achan’s sin with their lives (Joshua 7:5).
When the Jews lost the battle, their hearts melted, just as the hearts of the Canaanites melted when they were afraid of the Jews (Josh.2:10,11). Sin always causes fear. When the Lord bore your sins on the cross, He feared the unseen demonic “bulls” that surrounded Him (Ps.22:12-16). Sin will make you fearful as well (Pr.28:1).
“Environ” (Josh.7:6-9) means to surround, the way the environment surrounds us. Joshua knew that his environment was about to get a whole lot more hostile once the Canaanites heard that the Jews fell before tiny Ai.
Joshua reminded God that if Israel’s name were cut off from the earth, it would hurt His name (v.9). He’d promised Canaan to the Jews, and if they died out, He’d get a name for being a God who didn’t keep His word. God also promised to show His power in freeing Israel from Pharaoh, so He saved them for His name’s sake (Ps.106:7), despite their rebellion against Him. Despite their current rebellion, He will save them in the kingdom for His name’s sake (Ezek.36:22-28).
Achan had also stolen (Josh.7:10,11) from God. God said the silver and gold was His (Josh.6:19), and Achan took some and “dissembled,” or covered it up, and acted like a hypocrite who hadn’t stolen from God. These sins cursed all Israel (Josh.7:12,13) so God told Joshua to have them sanctify themselves by washing their clothes (cf.Ex.19:10-14). They had to be clean to execute God’s judgment on Achan, just as any saint should be clean to serve God (cf. IICor.7:1). We’re clean (ICor.6:11), but should cleanse our-selves outwardly, as symbolized by this washing of clothes.
Achan was caught by God’s method of taking each tribe and family by lot (Josh.7:14,15 cf. ISam.14:42,43 cf. Pr.16:33). To find out God’s “disposing” today however, we must be filled with His Word, as Paul was, and do our own disposing as he did (Acts 18:27). If we are, we’ll know we can eat idolatrous meat that was cursed for the Jews (ICor.10:27,28).
Achan’s “folly” (Josh.7:15) was idolatry, spiritual fornication (Deut.22:21), a sin symbolized in his family tree. He was the descendent of Judah by fornication (Josh.7:1cf. Gen.38:11-30). His grandfather’s brother was in the line of Christ (Mt.1:1-3), but he’s mentioned in Matthew 1 because he’s an ancestor of Antichrist. Achan was a type of Antichrist, who will also introduce spiritual fornication to Israel (Rev.17:1-5), i.e., idolatry (13:14,15).
Babylon (Joshua 7:19-21) was the source of all idolatry, so that garment was cursed. God wasn’t being mean in executing Achan’s family (Josh.7:22-25). Achan had cursed them, so they had to pay the price. If they didn’t, all Israel would have had to pay the price, for his sin cursed them as well. Why stone them and burn them? Achan was guilty of idolatry, which was punishable by stoning (Deut.17:2-5), and spiritual fornication, which was punishable by fire for Jews who were destined to be the world’s priests (Lev.21:9). Future Babylon will likewise be stoned and burned for her idolatrous spiritual fornication (Rev.16:19-21; 18:2,8).
A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: “The Trespass of Israel” Joshua 7:1-26