19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23 And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the Lord. 24 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor. (Joshua 7:19–26 ESV)
What we have here, brothers and sisters, is a sinner. A real, honest-to-God sinner. Brother Achan put us all at risk by taking and keeping a coat and some money, things God wanted set aside, God wanted to keep for himself. Brother Achan took these things thinking god wouldn’t notice. That God wouldn’t see.
But God did see. And God knew. And we paid a price — our army was routed at Ai. And until we deal with this sinner, we will be defeated. We will not stand before our enemies. God has abandoned us. As God told us,
“Something proscribed is in your midst, O Israel, and you will not be able to stand up to your enemies until you have purged the proscribed from among you.” (Joshua 7:13 JPS Tanakh)
It is not enough that Brother Achan has confessed, though it is well and good that he has. Because, sisters and brothers, we know that confession is good for the soul.
However, we offer him no forgiveness. We cannot. There is none to offer. Because what he did put us all at risk. This poor decision of his, taking things that by right belong to the Lord our God, brought the judgement of God down upon us. Put our entire enterprise, our nation, at risk. For that defeat, and all the defeats that will come as long as he in our midst, we must do more than expel him.
Fire and death. For him and his family. And everything he owns.
For we must purge the sinner from our midst.