Verses 1-9: Achan disobeyed God and took of accused things from Jericho. Because of his sin, God punished the people with defeat. When spies went to see Ai, they reported back that only 2 or 3 thousand men would be needed to defeat Ai, because they were few. But instead Ai easily defeats Israel in this case, killing 36 men.
Joshua and the elders lament to the Lord, wondering why they were defeated. Joshua did not yet know of how Achan’s sin had created this situation.
Verses 10-26: God tells Joshua the reason for the defeat and also instructs on how to find the culprit. Achan and his family are quickly identified and to his credit, Achan comes clean. He did not seem to show much remorse, however. One wonders if he would have shown more sorrow had he known what was soon to become of him and his family. They are all taken to a valley, stoned, burned and buried in rocks for how Achan had taken the accursed things.
This chapter gives us a clear picture of sin leading directly to consequence. Achan took the materials knowing fully that they were forbidden. Why else would he bury them? The consequences of his greed reached far, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of not only 36 men, but also all of Achan’s family, which included his sons and daughters.
Sometimes we find ourselves in temptation, honestly considering moving ahead with the sin. Whether just for the pleasure of it, or because we have somehow justified it, we start to weigh the consequences before going through with the sin, just to see if it would be worth it. How often do we think about others in this scenario? My guess would be rarely. Our sin not only affects us, but also can create an unwanted environment for those around us.
Achan learned the hard way! Let us learn from this example the next time we are faced with a temptation.