One of the most common “hidden” sins of our time is pornography. Research says it accounts for at least 30 percent of all data transferred across the Internet. In 2018, more than 5.5 billion hours of pornography were consumed by one website alone. Every month, these sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. But one day, just as happened in today’s story, God will bring all such hidden sins to light.
In today’s passage, Achan is in the “failure” spotlight. What had he done? Following the victory at Jericho, he took for himself some of the “devoted things” (v. 1). Culturally, soldiers were entitled to the spoils of war. But spiritually, the Israelite army had been commanded not to do so in this case. The plunder belonged to God. Achan chose to disobey the Lord’s command, essentially stealing from God and concealing the evidence (v. 11). To make matters worse, he didn’t confess until it had been revealed he was the guilty man (vv. 20–21).
Achan’s sin was more than individual. God had warned beforehand against this specific sin and described the consequences for Israel (Josh. 6:18–19). Achan’s theft violated the covenant and therefore carried national consequences (v. 15). For five pounds of silver, one-and-a-quarter pounds of gold, and a Babylonian robe, he’d earned a world of trouble. He and his family (who probably knew of his crime) were justly stoned to death, a punishment that also accomplished national cleansing (vv. 25–26). Collective responsibility works both ways. Yesterday, Joshua and Caleb suffered some of the consequences of the nation’s sinful failure. Today, the nation suffered some of the consequences of an individual’s sinful failure.
>> Today’s reading is a stern reminder to confess any hidden sins. One important thing to remember is how much God hates sin. He’s absolutely holy. Another is that these sins are not really hidden. God already knows all about them.