Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel?…
I. THE PERPETRATION OF SIN. Iniquity is the common characteristic of all mankind: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." But there is before us a reference to one particular act of sin, which, while proceeding from the depraved heart possessed by the perpetrator in common with others, appears to us in prominent and isolated distinction of enormity.
1. The iniquity of Achan was heinous, on account of its intrinsic nature. It was an act of covetousness. He was beguiled by a greedy and unprincipled desire after the attainment and preservation of wealth.
2. The iniquity of Achan was perpetrated against the Divine command, distinctly expressed and amply known.
3. The iniquity of Achan was heinous on account of its attendant dissimulation and attempted concealment.
II. THE INFLICTION OF PUNISHMENT. The punishment of the transgressor himself: "That man perished in his iniquity." The terms of our text appear to justify the implication, that his iniquity was not repented of, and that therefore it was not cleansed or forgiven; he confessed, but he was not contrite; and the whole spirit of the narrative must be regarded as justifying the view which now is expressed. So that you perceive the death of his body was the sign of the ruin of his soul. And it is true with regard to every impenitent sinner, in every age of the world, who dies in iniquity, that thus he must "perish." "They shall utterly perish in their own corruption." They die "the second death."
2. Observe the punishment of the transgressor, in relation to the interests of others. "That man perished not alone in his iniquity." Men by their iniquity often associate themselves with the ruin of the souls of their fellow-men. It is probable that no person can long continue in a state of alienation from God without exerting (although he attempts it not) some baneful influence on the character and the interests of others; and there are, we have reason to fear, numerous instances in which men by bad example, or even by direct efforts for that purpose, make others "partakers of their evil deeds" and lead them down to hell. How horrible, how thrice horrible, to lead others into the prison I to lash around others the fetters! to administer to others the poison! to enwrap others in the flame! Deeds at which hell itself may wonder and fiend may point with amazement to his fellow fiend "That man 'perished not alone in his iniquity'; there is the seducer, and there are his victims — all victims now!" Lessons —
1. There ought to be anxious application for the pardon of our transgressions perpetrated in past times.
2. There ought to be the determined repudiation and avoidance of sin for the time to come.
3. There ought to be diligent endeavour to bring our fellow-men to salvation. Some are "not alone in their iniquity"; it must be our ambition not to be alone in our salvation.
Parallel VersesKJV: Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.