1. THE CAUSE OF THE CURSE
a. When Achan finally admitted his guilt after being identified by God as the culprit in Israel, what action did Joshua take? Joshua 7:22, 23.
b. Why was it so important that such sins be disclosed? Proverbs 26:2.
“Achan understood well the reserve made and that the treasures of gold and silver which he coveted were the Lord’s.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 269.
“Achan’s sin brought disaster upon the whole nation. For one man’s sin the displeasure of God will rest upon His church till the transgression is searched out and put away. The influence most to be feared by the church is not that of open opposers, infidels, and blasphemers, but of inconsistent professors of Christ. These are the ones that keep back the blessing of the God of Israel and bring weakness upon His people.
“When the church is in difficulty, when coldness and spiritual declension exist, giving occasion for the enemies of God to triumph, then, instead of folding their hands and lamenting their unhappy state, let its members inquire if there is not an Achan in the camp. With humiliation and searching of heart, let each seek to discover the hidden sins that shut out God’s presence.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 497.
2. ACHAN HELD ACCOUNTABLE
a. What did God direct the people to do with Achan? Joshua 7:24, 25. Why is his fate a warning for us living so near the close of probation?
“When a crisis finally comes, . . . and God speaks in behalf of His people, those who have sinned, those who have been a cloud of darkness and who have stood directly in the way of God’s working for His people, may become alarmed at the length they have gone in murmuring and in bringing discouragement upon the cause; and, like Achan, becoming terrified, they may acknowledge that they have sinned. But their confessions are too late and are not of the right kind to benefit themselves, although they may relieve the cause of God. Such do not make their confessions because of a conviction of their true state and a sense of how displeasing their course has been to God.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 271.
“There are many in this day that would designate Achan’s sin as of little consequence, and would excuse his guilt; but it is because they have no realization of the character of sin and its consequences, no sense of the holiness of God and of His requirements. The statement is often heard that God is not particular whether or not we give diligent heed to His word, whether or not we obey all the commandments of His holy law; but the record of His dealing with Achan should be a warning to us. He will in no wise clear the guilty.”—The Review and Herald, March 20, 1888.
b. How and why was Achan’s fate to be kept in memory? Joshua 7:26. What should this tell us?
“Have you considered why it was that all who were connected with Achan were also subjects of the punishment of God? It was because they had not been trained and educated according to the directions given them in the great standard of the law of God. Achan’s parents had educated their son in such a way that he felt free to disobey the Word of the Lord, the principles inculcated in his life led him to deal with his children in such a way that they also were corrupted. Mind acts and reacts upon mind, and the punishment which included the relations of Achan with himself, reveals the fact that all were involved in the transgression.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 2, p. 998.
3. THE SLIME OF GREED
a. What had enticed Achan to sin? James 1:13–15.
“Achan’s covetousness was excited by the sight of that costly robe of Shinar; even when it had brought him face to face with death he called it ‘a goodly Babylonish garment.’ One sin had led to another, and he appropriated the gold and silver devoted to the treasury of the Lord—he robbed God of the first fruits of the land of Canaan.
“The deadly sin that led to Achan’s ruin had its root in covetousness, of all sins one of the most common and the most lightly regarded. While other offenses meet with detection and punishment, how rarely does the violation of the tenth commandment so much as call forth censure. The enormity of this sin, and its terrible results, are the lessons of Achan’s history.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 496.
b. Explain how the evil of covetousness is a denial of faith. Hebrews 13:5.
“Covetousness is an evil of gradual development. Achan had cherished greed of gain until it became a habit, binding him in fetters well-nigh impossible to break. While fostering this evil, he would have been filled with horror at the thought of bringing disaster upon Israel; but his perceptions were deadened by sin, and when temptation came, he fell an easy prey.
“Are not similar sins still committed, in the face of warnings as solemn and explicit? We are as directly forbidden to indulge covetousness as was Achan to appropriate the spoils of Jericho. . . .
“Everywhere its slimy track is seen. It creates discontent and dissension in families; it excites envy and hatred in the poor against the rich; it prompts the grinding oppression of the rich toward the poor. And this evil exists not in the world alone, but in the church. How common even here to find selfishness, avarice, overreaching, neglect of charities, and robbery of God ‘in tithes and offerings.’ Among church members ‘in good and regular standing’ there are, alas! many Achans.”—Ibid., pp. 496, 497.
4. ESCAPING THE SNARE
a. What warnings echo down to us against coveting anything that is not ours? Luke 12:15; 1 John 2:15–17. How does this sin hinder God’s work?
“It is this increasing devotion to money getting, the selfishness which the desire for gain begets, that removes the favor of God from the church and deadens its spirituality. When the head and hands are constantly occupied with planning and toiling for the accumulation of riches, the claims of God and humanity are forgotten.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 82.
“Instead of giving all for Christ many have taken the golden wedge and a goodly Babylonish garment and hid them in the camp. If the presence of one Achan was sufficient to weaken the whole camp of Israel, can we be surprised at the little success which attends our efforts when every church and almost every family has its Achan?”—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 157.
b. What other sins which relate to covetousness does God especially hate? Proverbs 6:16–19. How does God view us when we cherish these sins?
“Various sins that are cherished and practiced by professed Christians bring the frown of God upon the church. In the day when the Ledger of Heaven shall be opened, the Judge will not in words express to man his guilt, but will cast one penetrating, convicting glance, and every deed, every transaction of life, will be vividly impressed upon the memory of the wrongdoer. The person will not, as in Joshua’s day, need to be hunted out from tribe to family, but his own lips will confess his shame, his selfishness, covetousness, dishonesty, dissembling, and fraud. His sins, hidden from the knowledge of man, will then be proclaimed, as it were, upon the housetop.
“The influence most to be feared by the church is not that of open opposers, infidels, and blasphemers, but of inconsistent professors of Christ. These are the ones who keep back the blessing of the God of Israel and bring weakness upon the church, a reproach that is not easily wiped away.”—Ibid., vol. 4, p. 493.
“[God’s] Spirit is grieved by the pride, extravagance, dishonesty, and overreaching which are indulged by some professing godliness. All these things bring the frown of God upon His people.”— Ibid., p. 491.
5. TRANSPARENCY IN TRADE
a. What understanding can help us to place God and our fellowman before our natural desire for worldly gain? Proverbs 15:3; Colossians 3:1–3.
“The custom of overreaching in trade, which exists in the world, is no example for Christians. They should not deviate from perfect integrity, even in small matters. To sell an article for more than it is worth, taking advantage of the ignorance of purchasers, is fraud. Unlawful gains, petty tricks of trade, exaggeration, competition, underselling a brother who is seeking to pursue an honest business—these things are corrupting the purity of the church, and are ruinous to her spirituality.
“The business world does not lie outside the limits of God’s government. Christianity is not to be merely paraded on the Sabbath and displayed in the sanctuary; it is for every day in the week and for every place. Its claims must be recognized and obeyed in the workshop, at home, and in business transactions with brethren and with the world.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 494.
“The first Christian church had not the privileges and opportunities we have. They were a poor people, but they felt the power of the truth. The object before them was sufficient to lead them to invest all. They felt that the salvation or the loss of a world depended upon their instrumentality. They cast in their all and held themselves in readiness to go or come at the Lord’s bidding.
“We profess to be governed by the same principles, to be influenced by the same spirit. . . . Let us individually go to work to stimulate others by our example of disinterested benevolence.”—Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 156, 157.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What most hinders the blessing of God and weakens His people?
2. How might I be influencing the youth the way Achan did his children?
3. How can I avoid indulging in the beginning roots of covetousness?
4. What danger especially lurks whenever we buy or sell something used?
5. How am I to escape the common snare of coveting worldly gain?