Jos. 7; 22:20; 1 Chron. 2:7.


1. Tell of the history of Israel up until this time.

2. Jericho was the first city to fall in Israel's conquest of Canaan.

3. The second city to be conquered in Canaan was Ai.

A. Scouts were sent to determine the need of manpower in conquering the city.

B. Ai was a small city and therefore the recommendation by the scouts was for a force of only two or three thousand men.

C. A force of three thousand men was sent to take the city, but they were beaten back by the men of Ai at the loss of 36 men.

D. The Israelites were startled at their lack of success in their initial move against Ai.

E. Joshua and the elders put dust on their heads and complained to the Lord.

F. Joshua said: "O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!"

1) Joshua had fallen to the ground before the Lord.

2) The Lord said to him: "Get thee up...Israel hath sinned..."

G. Joshua rose up early in the morning to begin the unpleasant task of housecleaning.

1) There was sin in the camp.

2) The guilty party had to be located.

3) The guilt of one man was a stumbling-block to the advance of Israel against Ai.

a. This is the same thing that happens when sin is allowed to remain in the church. 1 Cor. 5.

4) It was finally determined that a man by the name of Achan was the transgressor.

5) Only after appropriate disciplinary measures had been taken against Achan were the Israelites able to conquer Ai.

a. Achan was stoned to death and then burned along with his immediate household and goods.


A. God put a ban on the city of Jericho before it was ever captured. Jos. 6:17-19.

1. No spoils were to be taken for one's own use.

2. Everything in the city was accursed or devoted to destruction except the silver, gold, and vessels of iron and brass.

a. These valuables were to be put into the treasury of the Lord.

1) All else was to be burned.

B. Achan's first mistake was in seeing and desiring the forbidden.

1.He later confessed this: "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..." v. 12.

C. Sin often begins with unlawful desire brought on by what we see.

1. Eve "Saw that the tree was good for food", Gen. 3:6.

2. King Ahaz of Judah "saw an altar that was at Damascus", 2 Kgs. 16:10, and arranged for one like it to be built at Jerusalem.

a. This was only one act of many that "provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers" , 2 Chron. 28:25.

3. David "saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon", 2 Sam. 11:2.

a. That was the first step toward his committing adultery with Bathsheba.

4. Simon "saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given", and he attempted to buy the power of the apostles, Acts 8:18.

D. Covetousness is unlawful desire.

1. Achan coveted the items of value that he saw even though he knew they belonged to the accursed city.

2. Eve desired the unlawful fruit in the garden of Eden, even though she knew better.

3. Ahaz desired the idolatrous altar that he saw, knowing that God had forbidden idolatry.

4. David lusted after the beautiful woman that he saw and made opportunity to gratify his lust, knowing all the while that the law said, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Or covet thy neighbor's wife.

5. Simon desired the power that he saw in the apostles, but for two reasons that desire was unlawful:

a. God's gifts are not for sale.

b. Simon had neither part not lot in the ministry of the apostles.


A. Achan "took of the accursed thing", Jos. 7:1, he acknowledged later, "I saw...I covet...and I took", v. 21.

1. What he had taken he hid in the earth in the midst of his tent.

a. This shows that he was conscious of his disobedience.

2. Although a person may sin in ignorance, Achan sinned in a willful manner.

a. He knew he was disobeying God.

B. All disobedience is serious.

1. Saul was rejected as Israel's king because he disobeyed God, 1 Sam. 15.

2. The man of God, out of Judah, lost his life because he was "disobedient unto the word of the Lord", 1 Kgs. 13:26.

3. The people of Israel were taken into captivity because they "were disobedient", and rebelled against God, casting His law behind their backs, and they slew His prophets who testified against them, Neh. 9:26.

4. The wrath of God comes upon "the children of disobedience", Eph. 5:6.


A. What Achan had hidden in the earth, in the midst of his tent, was not concealed from God.

1. In time, Joshua learned the identity of the guilty party.

2. To use the words that Moses had spoken on one occasion, "Be sure your sin will find you out", Num. 32:23.

B. All trespasses are not detected by one's fellowmen in the course of this life.

1. Paul wrote: "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to the judgment; and some men they follow after", 1 Tim. 5:24.

2. No act of disobedience and no wicked thought will escape detection in the day of judgment.

a. "For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil", Eccl. 12:14. Also read: Heb. 4:13.

b. Let us learn from the case of Achan that no sin is kept from God.


1. We need to learn, as Achan did, that when God says not to partake of something, He means what He says and we must listen.

2. We need to also learn from this case of taking Jericho, that when God gives instructions, we need to carry such out to the letter.

By Jim Sasser

Return to Jim Sasser's Outlines page

Return to the Sermon Outlines page

Return to the Old Testament book of Joshua

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /