Joshua 7

1 When people deliberately sin they will often justify it with thoughts of, "No one will ever know," or, "I am not hurting anyone." However, sin does affect us and our relationships with others. The symptoms might seem minor, but there is usually deception and hypocricy involved. Here we see that God judges the whole community based on the actions of one man. This is an empatic reminder that we are responsible to keep each other accountable to God.

But even more importantly than our relationships with others, sin affects our relationship with God. The Christian carrying a burden of sin has a difficult time approaching God because he knows God is displeased with him. There is also the guilt related to "taking advantage" of God's mercy. We know we haven't lost salvation, but it is wrong to abuse Him who is so good to us.

And, of course, sins can not be hidden from God. When we approach God with an unrepentant heart He will likely turn a deaf ear to our prayers (Isa 59:2).

3 After their great victory at Jericho, the much smaller town of Ai looked like a very easy victory.
4 The important thing to note here is that Joshua did not consult with God. Instead, he listened only to the counsel of his men who were confident of their own abilities. Communication with God is critical, especially when attempting to carry out a plan He designed.
5 The people were over confidant before, but now they lost all confidence.
6 Joshua was upset because he had mistakenly thought that God would give them an easy victory. Now it appeared that the inhabitants of the land would see God as weak and not be afraid of Israel. However, it was not God who was weak, it was Israel. The only thing that made Israel a great nation is God, and they had not sought His counsel regarding this battle.
10 God then rebukes Joshua and tells him plainly that Israel sinned. If Joshua had prayed first this matter could have been straightened out before the defeat.
15 The only way to completely remove and/or purify something was to burn it with fire. The sinner took something that the army was supposed to destroy. Now he would be destroyed along with it.
19 God had pointed out Achan. The very least he could do at this point was confess his sin and acknowledge that God is correct.
25 Achan had confessed, so why wasn't he forgiven? In addition to violating a direct order, his actions had resulted in the death of 36 men. He was guilty, not only of stealing from God, but also of murder. Whether God has forgiven him or not, we will not know until Judgement Day. However, we will often suffer the consequences of our past sins even after they are forgiven.

Why was the family executed? It is unlikely that the family did not know about the theft because they all lived in the same tent. They knew about the treasure but conspired to keep it a secret. This seems to be the only real possibility since God is just and this was a situation where it would have been easy to separate the good and the bad (after all, He had already taken painstaking measure to point Achan out as one man in the entire nation). We see that sin contaminates everything it touches. Thus, Achan's sin affected himself, his family, all his possessions, and his nation.

26 This is another memorial, and was intended to be a visual reminder that sin can not be hidden from God.