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God is Just: Lessons from the Life of Achan

Read: Joshua 7-9

Joshua 7:10-12 – The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

The account of Achan in the Bible powerfully points to the justice of God.

The wars fought by Israel in Canaan were not to be plundering wars of personal gain; they were an unusual, sacred instrument in God’s hand, used for judgment against a society ripe for judgment. Joshua had clearly commanded the nation of Israel in Joshua 6:18 that they should not take of any of the accursed things, those things were associated with the demonic and debasing worship and practices of the Canaanites.

However, when the Israelites went out to fight the Amorites at Ai, they lost thirty-six men and were routed completely. Joshua and the elders of Israel were devastated by the defeat but more so by the loss of the blessing and guidance of God. Joshua knew that if God’s hand of blessing was not upon them, it would have been better not to come to the Promised Land at all. If God did not deliver them, they were lost. Joshua’s greatest concern was for the glory of God.

Joshua realised that there was a reason for the defeat. Such defeats don’t “just happen.” And soon enough God reveals to a heartbroken Joshua the real reason for their defeat – Israel had sinned. The staggering truth is that thirty-six men were dead and the whole nation was found guilty all for the sin of one man, Achan and his family. One man stole from God. He disobeyed God. And the impact of that sin was that the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies. Israel could not fight in God’s power unless they walked in obedience to God. Paul speaks of the same concept concerning sin in the church – do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch (1 Corinthians 5:6).

Our God is Just. He is impartial and has no favourites (Deuteronomy 10:17-18). God in His justice restores and rectifies injustice (Isaiah 61:8). In God’s justice there is punishment for wrongdoing and reward for righteousness (Galatians 6:7).

Four lessons from the life of Achan

Accountability: Achan was held accountable for his disobedience (Joshua 7:1). Achan’s seemingly “small” sin did not go unnoticed. God noticed and held him accountable.

We are responsible for our actions and choices. We are accountable for the sins we commit.

Cause and Effect: Achan’s sin had repercussions not only for himself but also for the entire Israelite community. The defeat the Israelites experienced in battle against Ai was a direct result of the presence of the devoted items that Achan had taken.

Our choices have consequences, not just for ourselves, but for those around us too.

Unity and Interdependence: Achan’s transgression affected the entire nation of Israel, as it violated the covenant and brought judgment upon the nation. His sin was not just his personal sin but affected the entire nation of Israel.

Our actions can have far reaching impact on our families, churches, and society at large.

Restoration of Justice: The story of Achan concludes with the restoration of justice, healing and reconciliation. Achan’s confession and subsequent consequences served as a means to restore moral order within the community.

God’s justice seeks not only retribution but also redemption and restoration. God’s desire is for healing, forgiveness, and the transformation of individuals and communities.

As we ponder these truths. may we reflect on our choices and their consequences. May we recognize the far-reaching effects our choices and actions on ourselves and those around us, and seek God’s help to walk in obedience before Him.


  1. How does the story of Achan challenge your perspective on the importance of obedience to God’s commands? Are there areas in your life where you may be compromising your obedience? How can you realign your actions with His will?
  2. In what areas of your life do you struggle with personal accountability? How can you take ownership of your actions and choices more effectively?
  3. Reflect on a time when your choices had unintended consequences for those around you. How did that experience impact your understanding of cause and effect in your life?

Scripture Writing: Isaiah 61:8

Song: Create in Me a Clean Heart

For more daily devotions like this – At the Potter’s Wheel (Kindle)

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