Sin in the camp

“Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff,” Joshua 7:11.

Preached in Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church, At the morning service, 7th January 2018,
By Rev Ivan Foster (Retired)

Stream or download Sin in the camp


Before the Lord informed Joshua of the presence of sin amongst the people of Israel, that sin had announced itself. The presence of sin was manifested by the terrible fruits which follow it!

1. Pride and carelessness. “And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few,” verse 3.

2. Failure to consult the Lord. The plan to attack Ai was not the Lord’s plan!

3. Cowardice and retreat. “So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai,  . . . . Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you,” verses 4, 12.

4. Complaining and accusing God. “And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!” verse 7.
These things betrayed the presence of sin before the Lord revealed it to Joshua. Joshua and Israel should have recognised immediately the cause of their trouble. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren,” James 1:14-16.

It was but a repeat of events in the garden of Eden. So it ever will be!!

I. SIN IS EVER THE PROBLEM.

Sin robs us of God’s blessing and power and is ever the cause of distress, decline and spiritual death amongst God’s people. Nothing else is to blame! Many things are blamed for the trouble, even the Lord, but it is always sin!

1. Cain’s trouble. “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door,” Gen 4:6-7.

2. Peter’s Trouble. “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” Matt 26:74-75.

3. Ananias and Sapphira’s trouble. Acts 7:1-11.

4. Ephesian Church’s trouble. Rev 2:4-5.

II. THE SIN SEEMED A SMALL MATTER.

1. Its occurrence went virtually unnoticed. The whole nation had been searched by the Lord before the culprit was found. I do not say none had seen Achan steal but I suggest that any who did, did not think it could possible the “sin” that had so offended God!

2. The items stolen were not of vast monetary value. “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it,” Joshua 7:21. He didn’t profit by his theft. He could never wear the garment and he could hardly spend the money without betraying his theft. Hence he hid it.
There is no profit in sin!

3. He apparently harmed none! And yet he brought down God’s wrath upon the nation and cost the lives of “about thirty and six men,” Joshua 7:5.

4. He stole from the Lord in direct defiance of His command, yielding to carnal desires. Joshua 6:18-19. He “coveted them,” Joshua 7:21. Sin is a robbing of God and will ever put us in conflict with Him!

III. SMALL AS IT MAY HAVE APPEARED, HIS ACTIONS HAD DIRE CONSEQUENCES.

1. For the enemies of Israel. The events at Ai gave them the impression that Israel and its religion and her God were fakes! So does sin amongst God’s people! “So they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape,” Joshua 8:22.
Your sin amongst God’s people will create the impression among the ungodly that there is nothing to be feared in the words of God.

2. For Israel. The loss of life, 7:5. The utter consternation and fear, 7:6. The trauma of the trial, 7:13-15.

3. For Achan. He brought judgment on himself and his family as well as trouble upon Israel, 7:24-26. His name is a byword!

IV. WE SEE THAT SIN MUST BE ADDRESSED IF WE ARE TO ENJOY AGAIN THE BLESSING OF GOD.

1. Great searchings of heart took place. 7:13.

2. Unhesitating obedience to God’s commands. 7:14-15. Neither family loyalties or compassion of heart was to hinder God’s justice. 7:15.

3. A full confession by the guilty. “And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, ” Joshua 7:20.

4. A heightened fear of the Lord in the nation.  7:14-15. Here is seen the fear of the Lord amongst the people. They carried out the sentence against Achan and his family. Many baulk at disciplining of sin but it is the evidence of a fear of the Lord. Deut 13:6-11.

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