“God said to Joshua, “Get up. Why are you groveling? Israel has sinned: They’ve broken the covenant I commanded them; they’ve taken forbidden plunder—stolen and then covered up the theft, squirreling it away with their own stuff.” Joshua 7:10-11.
God ordered Joshua to take in battle the strong, walled-up city of Jericho, but one person broke the covenant and took stuff and hid it, and Joshua’s army lost the battle. Before God would allow Joshua to go back into battle with Jericho, the one who stole items needed to confess and be punished. Finally, Achan confessed, “It’s true. I sinned against God, the God of Israel.” (Vs 20)
Achan took items out of greed—a beautiful Shinar robe and fine metals. Because of the soldier’s disobedience, he and his family were stoned and burned.
It’s hard to believe the punishment for stealing would be so harsh that a whole family would die. But the Israelites proved over and over that God’s rules didn’t apply to them. Even today, some people believe rules are meant for someone else. Such as, “Thou shall not steal.” Similar to the man who took contraband during the Battle of Jericho, we see reports after a weather disaster or civil disturbance, stores being broken into, windows smashed, and thieves running away with as much merchandise as they can carry.
Perhaps the penalty for such thievery isn’t harsh enough to stop this kind of behavior.
Dear God, help us understand that what you say is what you mean. Amen.