One time I went camping as a young boy. Our leaders warned us of the dangers of the forest, but not much of that stuck in my mind. The only exception was when they told us not to keep food out in the open overnight—because it would attract bears.
At the time that didn’t sound too bad to me. I was thinking of a fruit-eating, singing bear like Baloo from The Jungle Book. But Baloo, I was told, was not the sort of bear we would encounter. It was not unheard of for bears to kill people, our leaders said. It would be in our best interest not to attract them by leaving food within reach. So, I made it my mission to search our campsite and make sure all food was put away. I didn’t know much about camping, but I knew I did not want to wake up to a bear trying to eat me.
Joshua chapters 7 and 8 introduce us to a man named Achan of the tribe of Israel. He has stolen pagan artifacts and hidden them in his camp. Similar to the scene in the movie Heavy Weights, where sugar-addicted children hide enormous amounts of carb-loaded sweets and whatever else their hearts desire under beds, Achan saw a glimmering idol, desired it, took it, and hid it.
Through Achan’s sin, he attracted the species of bear to the camp of Israel known as God’s wrath. Though the stash of things he stole was in his possession alone, it affected the nation as a whole. In their disobedience and sin, Israel had violated God’s covenant. This blatant violation caused Israel to suffer a loss in battle.
Disobedience toward God brings calamity. Obedience to the loving commands of God brings blessing. Achan’s sinful act of disobedience that affected the whole camp is a reminder of the righteous act of obedience by Jesus. Jesus took God’s wrath toward sinners upon Himself—a wrath that didn’t belong to Him. This perfect sacrifice resulted in blessing for all who are in Christ’s family.
Achan hid what was not his, thinking he was adding to his own riches. But the riches we need are revealed in Jesus. In Christ, God’s riches abound, and those who trust Him alone for salvation will spend an eternity experiencing them. In our obedience to trust Christ, we can know with certainty that Jesus’ obedience guarantees our blessing, not our defeat. We are given Him, forever.
Written By Jevon Washington