Why did God destroy Achan’s family?

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By BibleAsk Team


The story of Achan’s sin and its consequences in the book of Joshua offers profound insights into the nature of God’s justice and the seriousness of disobedience. While the destruction of his family may seem shocking at first glance, a closer examination of the biblical narrative reveals important lessons about the consequences of every person’s sin, the sanctity of God’s covenant, and the importance of obedience. In this exploration, we will delve into this story, examining key passages from the book of Joshua and considering their implications for believers today.

Achan’s Sin and Its Consequences

The story of Achan unfolds against the backdrop of the Israelites’ conquest of the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. After the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River and the conquest of the city of Jericho, the Israelites were commanded by God to devote the spoils of the city to Him as a sign of their consecration to the Lord. However, Achan’s disobedience and subsequent concealment of forbidden plunder resulted in dire consequences for himself and his family.

1. Joshua 7:1-5: Achan’s Sin

This story begins in Joshua 7:1-5 (NKJV), where we read of Israel’s defeat at the hands of the men of Ai: “But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.” Here, Achan’s act of disobedience is described as a trespass against the commandment of the Lord, resulting in divine judgment upon the entire nation of Israel.

2. Joshua 7:19-21: Achan’s Confession

In Joshua 7:19-21 (NKJV), Achan confesses his sin before Joshua and the people of Israel: “Then Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, I beg you, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.’ And Achan answered Joshua and said, ‘Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.'” Achan’s confession exposes the extent of his greed and disobedience, as he acknowledges his sin before God and His people.

The Sin of Achan’s Family

The divine judgment upon Achan and his family serves as a sobering reminder of the seriousness of their corporate sin and the holiness of God. The destruction of his family reflects the gravity of their disobedience and the necessity of upholding the sanctity of God’s covenant with His people.

1. Deuteronomy 24:16: The Principle of Individual Responsibility

Achan’s family members joined him in his sin by concealing it. They purposely didn’t expose it. Thus, they participated in the crime of their father. The judgment upon this family is consistent with the principle of individual responsibility outlined in Deuteronomy 24:16 (NKJV): “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.” This passage underscores the accountability of each individual before God, emphasizing that sinners are held responsible for their own actions and cannot escape the consequences of their disobedience.

2. Joshua 7:24-26: Achan’s Punishment

In Joshua 7:24-26 (NKJV), we read of the execution of Achan and his family as a consequence of his sin: “Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.’ So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.” This passage describes the execution of Achan and his family by stoning, followed by the burning of their bodies as a solemn act of judgment and purification.

Lessons for Believers Today

The story of Achan offers important lessons for believers today, highlighting the seriousness of sin, the necessity of corporate confession and repentance, and the importance of upholding the sanctity of God’s covenant.

1. Proverbs 28:13: Confession and Forgiveness

Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV) emphasizes the importance of confession and repentance in obtaining God’s forgiveness: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Believers are called to acknowledge their sins before God, confessing them with contrite hearts and seeking His forgiveness and mercy.

2. Hebrews 12:5-6: The Discipline of the Lord

Hebrews 12:5-6 (NKJV) speaks of the discipline of the Lord as a sign of His love for His children: “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.'” While the judgment upon Achan and his family serves as a reminder that God disciplines those whom He loves, calling them to repentance and obedience.

Conclusion: The Consequences of Sin and the Grace of God

In conclusion, the story of Achan’s sin and its consequences offers profound insights into the nature of divine judgment and the seriousness of disobedience. The destruction of Achan’s family underscores the gravity of sin and the necessity of upholding the sanctity of God’s covenant by all members. As believers, we are called to heed the warning of Achan’s fate, confessing our sins before God and seeking His forgiveness and mercy. May we learn from the example of Achan, turning from sin and embracing the grace and forgiveness offered to us through Jesus Christ, who bore the penalty for our transgressions on the cross.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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