Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. — Joshua 7:13
On a rotating basis, the ladies cleaned the church building, making sure everything was presentable for the Sunday services. Part of the cleaning involved vacuuming the carpet on the floors. Even though the vacuum cleaner had good suction, some things needed to be picked up by hand and thrown in the trash, rather than attempting to vacuum them up. Then it happened! The vacuum nozzle was pushed over the wrong item, taking it in, but reducing its suction considerably. The vacuum no longer functioned effectively.
Upon checking the vacuum hose, the blockage that prevented dirt from going to the retaining pot was discovered. After removing the items causing the blockage, the vacuum was test driven and found to be as good as new. The next shift of cleaning ladies enjoyed hearing the swishing of dust quickly passing through the hose and viewed the “looking like new” carpet with pride.
It is pretty basic — if your vacuum is not picking up properly, you need to see if something is stuck in the hose. In our lives, it is also possible to “pick up” something that should not be present. If that happens, our Christianity will not work effectively. We are expected to obey God’s Word and keep our lives clean. By doing so, we can prevent a “blockage” of our connection with Heaven, which may hinder our getting a prayer through when we face the enemy.
When the Children of Israel captured Jericho, Achan picked up some items that he had been clearly instructed not to take. As a result, Israel was defeated at Ai and thirty-six Israelite soldiers were killed. Our decisions to obey or to disobey God will affect the success of others as well as ourselves — our families, our friends, our churches, and the body of Christ.
We can be sure that the enemy will put temptations in our way. There will be items that need to be picked up and thrown away. Let us not take in the devil’s trash, which can bring defeat to our Christian walk. Instead, let us be obedient to God and expect victories!
In the previous chapter, Joshua and the Children of Israel were on the mountaintop of victory because Jericho had been captured. However, the ominous word “but” that introduces today’s text indicates that something was about to change.
Joshua sent men to view Ai, and since the city was small, they thought it would be an easy victory. They operated on their own understanding instead of seeking the Lord’s directions. Rather than defeating Ai, they found themselves fleeing for their lives and leaving behind dead comrades. Achan’s sin had separated them from God, and their hearts were melted as water because God had not helped them.
At Gilgal, Joshua and his elders prostrated themselves before the ark, which was the symbol of God’s presence, and tore their clothes, putting dust on their heads. This was the usual Israelite method of showing remorse and humiliation. Joshua laid his heart open before God, telling the Lord his true thoughts. Yet, his great concern was the defense of the Lord’s name before their enemies.
Following Joshua’s prayer, God spoke, saying that the nation had stolen the accursed thing and had hidden it among their personal possessions. God told Joshua to get up and sort out the problem.
The people were instructed to sanctify themselves, a process that would prepare them to come before the Lord. God instructed that the guilty party would be located by tribe, then by family, next by household, and finally man by man. Achan was found to be the guilty party.
Before judgment was executed, the evidence was dug up and presented. Achan and his family were taken to the valley of Achor, where they and their possessions were stoned and then burned with fire. The pile of stones would be a reminder to the people of the consequences of disobedience.
Although only one man sinned, the whole nation was judged. There was still much land for Israel to conquer. The people would see many items that they could perhaps covet. Strict adherence to God’s directions was imperative. God wanted His people to be pure and to understand that their victory came only through obedience.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The land contested
B. The history of the conquest
1. The central campaign
b. The fall of Ai
(1) The failure at Ai (7:1-26)
(a) The fact of Israel’s defeat (7:1-5)
(b) The cause of Israel’s defeat (7:6-15)
 Joshua’s plea (7:6-9)
 Jehovah’s explanation (7:10-15)
(c) The source of Israel’s defeat (7:16-21)
(d) The judgment upon Achan’s sin (7:22-2)
Just as the Children of Israel were one nation, God’s people today are one body in Christ. The responsibility of each individual is to do the Lord’s bidding, because what we do will affect others. Let us each choose to be holy and obedient.