Bible Study
Survey of the Former Prophets - Program 03

John H. Ogwyn (1949-2005)

This Bible Study is part of the "Survey of the Former Prophets" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series

In Joshua 7, we find that there was a man by the name of Achan who coveted some of these items and did not want to see them destroyed. There were things that he took that were contrary to God's instruction.

Greetings, friends!

This is John Ogwyn. We are continuing our study in the book of Joshua. We came last time through Joshua 6 and the fall of Jericho, and saw that the entire city was to be destroyed by fire as God had instructed. The people were told that they were not to take anything for themselves directly from the city; rather, everything was either to be destroyed or dedicated to God.

In Joshua 7, we find that there was a man by the name of Achan who coveted some of these items and did not want to see them destroyed. There were things that he took that were contrary to God's instruction.

Though Jericho had fallen, there was a small town by the name of Ai a short distance away. The Israelites were feeling really good as a result of what had happened. Jericho, the great citadel city of the Canaanites, had collapsed. Some came to Joshua and said, "It is really unnecessary for the entire nation to be bothered to be going to Ai. Why not let simply a few of us, two or three thousand, go and take care of it." So they went out with boldness and confidence. They came to Ai.

Joshua 7:5

And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men [and they fled]… the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

All of their courage and confidence just melted away, and they took their tails and came running back. They were dismayed-and Joshua was dismayed. Joshua could not understand it. God had just performed a tremendous miracle. Jericho's walls had collapsed, but now a small town had chased the Israelites away. What had happened? Why was God not blessing them? Why was God not continuing to lead them forward? Joshua fell on his face before God, and he prayed and besought God. He wanted to understand this; it did not make sense to him. He knew that God had a purpose in mind, yet it did not seem that His purpose was being accomplished.

Joshua 7:10-11

So the LORD said to Joshua:.."Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things."

They had done exactly what God told them NOT to do, so they would not be able to stand before their enemies. Disobedience serves to limit and even to cut off God's blessing. If we want to go forward as the people of God, we must do so in obedience to God. We cannot disregard God's instructions and then think that somehow God will grant success to all of our endeavors.

God told Joshua to get the people together and to announce what was the problem. Joshua was to cast lots and God would show him who it was:

Joshua 7:16

So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel by their tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken.

Joshua asked God "Which tribe?" and Judah was selected. Then the various clans in Judah. The family of the Zarhites was the particular clan taken. Then we find Zabdi-that subset, that family. Then the household, man by man. Finally we find that Achan, son of Carmi and grandson of Zabdi, was the one.

Joshua 7:17-21

Now Joshua said to Achan, "My son,.. tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me." And Achan answered Joshua and said, "Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them."

He saw something and wanted it and coveted it and took it. They went in and looked under his tent and it was there. Achan was stoned. A great heap was raised up for his grave. Then the Lord turned away the fierceness of His anger.


Joshua 8:1

Now the LORD said to Joshua: "Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land."

Once the sin that had cut the people off from God was removed, then He was prepared to take the people forward and to give them success. Joshua arose; Israel came up against Ai. Scripture tells the particular strategy that was used-the men of war were drawn away from the city, the city was destroyed and the men were caught in a trap. The whole place was destroyed as God had instructed them.

Joshua 8:26, 28, 29

For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. So Joshua burned Ai. The king of Ai he hanged.

When sunset came, the day ended and the King was taken down and buried. By verse 30, Jericho has fallen and Ai has fallen.

Joshua 8:30

Now Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel in Mount Ebal.

Before Moses died, he had instructed Joshua and the people that after they entered into the land, the people were to be placed with certain tribes on Mount Ebal and certain tribes on Mount Gerizim. Tthe priests-the Levites-were to stand in the middle. The book of the Law was to be read. The blessings and the cursings were also to be read. The people were to pronounce the blessings and the cursings of the Law. Now Joshua was prepared to carry out that ceremony.

Joshua 8:31

Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses.

This specific book was Deuteronomy, which gave the specific instructions from God. There was a section actually plastered on stones. A copy was made, into that plaster, of the Law of Moses-written in the presence of the children of Israel. Israel and their elders and their judges and their officers stood-some on this side of the Ark and others on that side of the Ark-before the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant. Half were next to Mount Gerizim and the other half next to Mount Ebal. The words of the Law, as we are told in verse 34, were read, the blessing and the cursings according to all that is written.

Joshua 8:35

There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read.

Everyone listened and took heed.

In Joshua 9, we find that word spread very quickly and all the surrounding kings and cities heard about this. One of the fortress cities of the Canaanites, the city of Gibeon, had elders there who conferred-and they were frightened. They knew that instructions had been given that all of the Canaanite tribes were to be driven out and everything was to be destroyed. The Gibeonites did not want that to happen. So they put together a plan; they dressed some men up in old, ragged clothes. They got together some moldy food. They constructed a scene which would give the impression of people who had traveled a long way, though in reality they had traveled just a few miles. They arrived at the camp of Joshua and the Israelites there in Gilgal and said, "We are from a city that is quite far away. You can look and see our clothes and you can see the remains of our food. You can tell we have made a long trip. We are here to submit to you, we are here to make an alliance with you. We will accept your rulership and we want to be your friends and we want you to be our friends and protect us." But instead of going to God and inquiring about it, Joshua made an agreement that this is , absolutely what we will do. A little later, their neighbors-the neighboring Canaanite cities-heard. They were very upset because they thought Gibeon is one of the great cities of the Canaanites, and if Gibeon collapses we need to punish them, because if we don't then maybe some of the other cities will submit and surrender. This is the story that brings us to Joshua 10.

But at the end of Joshua 9, Joshua found out that he had been deceived by the Gibeonites. He was upset and asked, "What have you done?" Yet when they went before God, the point was made, "Look you made an agreement. You made a covenant, and God expects us to keep our word." So God told Joshua that he should have acquired of Him first, but did not, so He expected them to observe that agreement. The Gibeonites were to be cutters of wood and drawers of water to the congregation. They would be servants, serving the Levites and the nation. AdoniZedek, the King of Jerusalem and a leading Canaanite leader, got together the Canaanite army and said, "We need to go and punish the Gibeonites, because they made an alliance with Israel." So he brought an army out against the men of Gibeon-the five Amorite kings that are described here. The Gibeonites sent to Gilgal, we are told in Joshua 10:6, and told Joshua what was happening. Joshua came from Gilgal with all the men of war and the mighty men of valor with him. We find that God blessed Joshua and his success. Yet there was not enough time.

Do you ever come to have more work than you have day? Joshua came to that spot, only this time a tremendous miracle occurred because God was doing a great work through Joshua. Joshua stopped and prayed and asked God-"Father we won't be able to accomplish this job, it's getting dark and we won't be able to finish this." So God performed a miracle. It appeared that the sun just stopped in its place. The exact physical details of how God worked this miracle, we do not know. After all, the Living God-the Creator God-is the one who made the sun, the moon and the earth. He is the one who established the orbits. So it was no big problem for God. The sun stood still and the moon stayed. It was about a twelve-hour period that the day was extended. There was no day like it before it or since (v. 14). So the slaughter of these five kings was completed.

Joshua 10:25

Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight."

Joshua was successful because he trusted God and followed God. In verse 40 we are told he smote the country of the hills and he took this whole area.

In Joshua 11 we read of the fall of one of the other cities: Hazor. Joshua was admonished not to be afraid of these people, and he went out with confidence. Joshua 11 and 12 tells of Joshua's defeats of the various Canaanite tribes-even some of the giants (verse 21, the Anakim).

Joshua 11:23

Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had said to… Joshua gave it as an inheritance.

Joshua 12 describes the boundaries these kings had possessed. In Joshua 13, as we pick up the story next time, we will see what happened in terms of the settling of Israel in the Promised Land.

Until next time, this is John Ogwyn for the Living Church of God.