Yesterday we considered the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7), the “valley of pain and trouble.” We conclude today by noting that not only does its history demonstrate how sin subtly overtakes us, but it also shows us sin’s results.
First, sin defeats us. As noted yesterday, Israel relied not on God but on her own understanding of the situation and so took only a small army of “about three thousand men” to Ai (Jos_7:4). The result of that attitude of self-sufficiency, along with Achan’s action of disobedience, was not only Israel’s defeat—her men “fled before the men of Ai” (Jos_7:4)—but also her disgrace, as the army of Ai “chased [her]” as she retreated (Jos_7:5; Jos_7:12). Indeed, sin destroys, dishonors, and debases us.
Second, sin hinders fellowship with God. As God Himself declared, “Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people” (Jos_7:12-13). Accursed appears six times in Jos_7:11-15. The Hebrew is chērem (H2764), which speaks here of “devoted to destruction.” While Jericho itself was “accursed” (Jos_6:17-18), Israel had permitted that accursed thing to enter the camp, so God demanded that it be purged before she could know full fellowship again. While God “will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb_13:5), and while the true believer does not lose fellowship with God, since such fellowship is part of salvation (1Jn_1:3), fellowship and communion are certainly hindered by sin.
Third, even with confession, the results of sin remain. While Achan admitted his sin (Jos_7:20-21), he and his family were still put to death (Jos_7:23-25). While this might seem harsh to some today, it is a consistent principle. Even though God forgives us, the “wages of sin is death” (Rom_6:23), which is why Jesus had to die for sin. While God can certainly forgive, each sin can still have consequences.
Fourth, sin affects others. Achan’s sin affected his entire family (who were probably accomplices, see Deu_24:16), as he led them astray into sin. Even his innocent livestock and possessions were destroyed (Jos_7:24). One of Satan’s most effective lies is reflected in the often-used phrase, “My sin only affects me.” Families, churches, and entire nations are affected by the sin of individuals. Let us steer clear of the Valley of Achor.
Scriptures for Study: Read the following, noting what each says about sin: Jer_17:9-10; Jer_23:24; Amo_9:3. What is our provision for sin in those times it does overtake us (1Jn_1:9)?