Was not Achan son of Zerah unfaithful regarding what was set apart for destruction, bringing wrath upon the whole congregation of Israel? Yet it was not only Achan who perished because of his sin!'"
I. CONSIDER THE INCIDENT IN RELATION TO THE TRANS-JORDANIC TRIBES. They erected an altar of witness which was supposed by their brethren to be an altar of sacrifice, a rival to the altar at Shiloh, a mark of national secession and religious schism.
(1) We should be careful to avoid the appearance of evil. These tribes had voluntarily chosen a position of isolation. They were now acting in a way which exposed their conduct to suspicion. It is our duty to prevent the misinterpretation of our conduct when possible
(a) lest quarrels be engendered;
(b) lest the name of God be dishonoured;
(c) lest the weak be hindered.
(2) We must expect sometimes to be misunderstood. There are persons who are always ready to give an evil interpretation to ambiguous actions. We must not refrain from doing right for fear of being misjudged. False judgment is a trial to be endured with patience and accepted as a means of discipline to humble us and drive us to the sympathy of God (1 Corinthians 4:3).
(3) A refuge from the misunderstanding of men may be found in the knowledge and sympathy of God. The suspected tribes appeal to the "Lord God of gods," who knows everything. When men misjudge, God sees the truth. It is better to be blamed by all the world and approved by god, than to win the world's approval at the expense of God's disapproval.
(4) We should explain our conduct when it is questioned by those in whose good opinion we are interested. The trans-Jordanic tribes made a full explanation of their motives in building the altar. The pride which disdains an explanation is
(a) foolish, for it injures ourselves;
(b) unjust, for it allows the world to suffer for a false impression; and
(c) ungenerous, since our brethren have a right to expect us to justify our conduct when this is possible.
II. CONSIDER THE INCIDENT IN RELATION TO THE TEN TRIBES. These tribes were hasty in judgment, but wise in conduct.
(1) Zeal for God's honour is always commendable. Phinehas and his friends feared dishonour to the name of God. It is well to be jealous for God's truth rather than for our private interest.
(2) We should be cautious of passing an adverse judgment on others. Phinehas was too hasty. Many are too ready to form an unfavourable opinion of the conduct of others. Charity should incline us to view this in the best light (1 Corinthians 13:7).
(3) Contentions often spring from mistakes. It is so in the wars of nations, in ecclesiastical differences, in personal quarrels.
(4) It is our duty to inquire well into the grounds of a quarrel before taking an active part on either side. The Israelites sent a deputation to their brethren. It is unjust to decide and act on the uncertain information of mere rumours. Before saying anything ill of a person we should endeavour to see the accused himself, and hear his explanation.
(5) We should frankly recognise our errors of judgment. The Israelites admitted their mistake. It is mean and unchristian to hold to a mistaken judgment from feelings of pride. The Christian should always work for peace (Matthew 5:9). - W.F.A.
I. THE NATURE OF THE INIQUITY WHICH HE COMMITTED. He transgressed the plain command of God, and thus sinned against Him. He no doubt sinned also against his own soul, against his family, and against his people. But no notice is taken of this. What is dwelt upon is, that he sinned against the Lord. His iniquity was a transgression of the command and law and covenant of his God. It implied the basest ingratitude for the mercies he had received, as well as a secret disbelief of the Divine omniscience, power, holiness, righteousness, and truth. Was this sin peculiar to Achan? Are there not many others who are virtually guilty of the same thing? Are there not many who apply to their own use what has been dedicated to God? Are there not many who retain in their own possession gold and silver which they ought to consecrate to Him? Are there not many who rob Him of the time which He has set apart for His immediate worship and service? Are there not many who by no entreaty can be prevailed upon to glorify Him in their body, and in their spirit, which are His? What incited Achan to commit sacrilege, and thus to sin against God, was avarice — an inordinate desire of money, an eagerness of gain. And are there not many who, under the influence of the same sordid spirit, act like him, and thus sin against God and their own souls? "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth."
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.
Achan... perished not alone in his iniquity.
1. Under the conscience of his own heart.
2. Under the laws of his king.
3. Under the commandments of God.And if we displease either God or the king, or our own conscience, vengeance meets us on every side. Conscience hath a worm in store, nay, a cockatrice to sting us; the magistrate bears a sword to divide us; but especially it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. In an evil conscience we die unto all joy and comfort; in our trespass against the laws of man we die unto men; in breaking the statutes of God we die unto heaven: surely he deserved not to die but one death that offended three. Some, perchance, will go a thought further, and pronounce a fearful sentence that this man was wiped for ever out of the book of the living. Nothing should make me mistrustful and doubt of his salvation but his too late repentance. Is this a time to leave off sin when we must leave off life and can sin no more? Do you then come to play the huxters for mercy, as if the market were cheapest at the latter end of the day?
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.
II. THE WAY IN WHICH THE INIQUITY OF ACHAN WAS BROUGHT TO LIGHT.
1. The Lord hates and abhors sin. It is an enemy within the camp which is sure to betray us into the hands of those that are without, and ultimately make us their prey.
2. The Lord sees our sins, however secretly they may be committed.
3. God is able to bring our sins to light even now, and that He frequently does bring them, to our utter confusion. By such visitations in time the Lord warns us of what we are to expect in eternity.
III. THE CONFESSION WHICH ACHAN MADE OF HIS INIQUITY. Had Achan made this confession sooner, there would have been room to hope that he truly repented of his iniquity; but as he deferred his acknowledgment of his guilt till the lot actually pointed him out, there is reason to fear that it proceeded at last from no real change of heart; that, in fact, it was constrained and not voluntary.
1. How he was led to commit his iniquity. Mark here the way in which men are frequently led to sin against God. The temptation makes its insidious approach by means of the eyes, or one of the other senses; then there arises in the heart an evil desire for the thing seen; and desire, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin. It is necessary, therefore, that we should make a covenant with our eyes, that we should watch against temptation, that we should guard against the first approaches of iniquity, that we should stop every avenue by which sin can enter.
2. How full of fear and disquietude is the life of a sinner. Achan, having taken the accursed thing, hid it in the earth in the midst of his tent. Why? Because he was afraid some one would see it; and in this fear he must have lived day after day, until his iniquity was brought to light. Such always is sin, every sin, and especially the sin of theft or sacrilege. It deludes those who are under its dominion. It promises them much, but pays them little but wretchedness and misery. It fills them with fears and anxieties, and often causes them to flee when no man pursueth.
IV. THE PUNISHMENT WHICH FOLLOWED THE INIQUITY OF ACHAN.
1. As to Achan himself, condign punishment speedily overtook him: "He perished in his iniquity." He suffered death as the due reward of his crime. And such is the wages which every sinner is sure to receive unless he obtains deliverance through the death of Christ, who died that we might live.
2. Others also suffered for the iniquity of Achan: "That man perished not alone in his iniquity." Who, then, perished besides him? Many had perished before him, and perished too for his iniquity, namely, the thirty-and-six men who were smitten by the men of Ai. It is also probable that all his family were put to death with him for the same sin. Such were the dreadful consequences occasioned by the iniquity of this man. And is not sin, even in our own day, frequently followed by similar consequences? How often do we see children suffering for the sins of their parents and parents for the sins of their children? How often do we see thieves and murderers, adulterers, drunkards, and such like, involving their wives and families, and perhaps other relations also, in poverty and disgrace, in troubles and anxieties, in wretchedness and misery, if not in still more awful calamities? How often, also, has one order of society to bear the ill consequences arising from the misconduct of another?Lessons:
1. How wonderful is the patience of God towards the world we live in. In the conduct of Achan we may see, as in a glass, what is the conduct of hundreds and thousands who are now living on the earth. How astonishing, then, is the patience of God! How wonderful that He should still bear with us, that He should still give us space for repentance, that He should still be unwilling theft we should perish! Oh, let us not despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering!
2. The patience of God, however great and wonderful, will not last for ever.
(F. Jacox, B. A.)
LinksJoshua 22:20 NIV
Joshua 22:20 NLT
Joshua 22:20 ESV
Joshua 22:20 NASB
Joshua 22:20 KJV
Joshua 22:20 Bible Apps
Joshua 22:20 Parallel
Joshua 22:20 Biblia Paralela
Joshua 22:20 Chinese Bible
Joshua 22:20 French Bible
Joshua 22:20 German Bible
Joshua 22:20 Commentaries