Joy filled the air. The Israelites were swapping stories about the destruction of Jericho when they received awful news. The nearly 3,000 men who had been sent to overtake the city of Ai had been routed. This had to be a stunning turnaround for the recent victors. After what God had done in Jericho and the promising reports from the spies, the capture of Ai seemed like it would be a walk in the park for the Israelite army.
This particular conquest ended with them running for their lives and around three dozen killed (vv. 3–5). Joshua and the other leaders were beside themselves (v. 6). Joshua questioned the Lord’s motives, promises, and actions (vv. 7–8). He concluded his “blame game” by putting the ball in God’s court and in verse 9 essentially asks, “What are you going to do about it?” The Lord refused to play Joshua’s game. He bluntly tells Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?” (v. 10). He explains that it was Israel who had broken their side of the covenant. Then He gave Joshua and the Israelites an ultimatum: Remove what was supposed to be destroyed. “I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction” (v. 12).
The Lord does not say that just one person had sinned, but the entire nation (vv. 1, 11). While it is clear that one man, Achan, had disobeyed, the Lord was teaching a hard and valuable lesson. One person’s disobedience can have devastating consequences. The Lord ordered Joshua to weed out the sin from within, so the whole nation would not be infested.
>> The sin of one person affected the lives of many. It is naïve to think that we alone will be affected by our sinful actions. My sin and yours affects those around us. If there is unconfessed sin in your life, confess it today, and with strength from the Holy Spirit, remove it completely.