See Joshua 7:10 – 26
Achan admitted that he sinned against God and told Joshua everything about his sin, but God did not excuse him. Why?
In the 24th and 25th verse, Achan was the only person who sinned against God. But all his family members, including his sons and daughters were punished or sentenced to death by stoning. Why did this happen?
Were Achan’s animals also stoned to death? If animals are innocent and they don’t have the knowledge of sin, then why did God punish Achan’s animals?
In this world and at Joshua’s time, there are so many people who are not believing Jehovah. Why does he not take any action on other people who are not believers of Jehovah?
Why did God’s mighty power not spread all over the world?
We must begin by setting the context that the Jews and Achan were under the Law Covenant (of Moses) at the time. We will remind you that with Joshua, the newly appointed earthly leader of the Jews, they had just spent 40 years in the wilderness for the sins of only a portion of the people. Not all had revolted and worshipped idols while God was giving Moses the law on tablets. Not all grumbled when they had no meat (Num. 11:4-5), water (Exod. 17:2), or the comforts of Egypt. But the whole nation (all the Jewish people) was subject to the correction and judgment that God had imposed upon them, both obedient and disobedient. Another example was the serpents which God allowed to terrorize the people (Num. 21:5-6). He did however offer relief for those with faith to trust in God when they viewed the standard with the copper serpent affixed to it.
Achan had sinned against a specific prohibition God had directed. The spoils from Jericho were devoted to God and his sin was against God and was most grievous (see 1 Sam 2:25). God wanted his people to be pure, separate from sin and to possess the land set aside purely for them (Exod. 19:5-6, Exod. 33:16, Deut. 14:2, Deut. 26:18).
God had structured each military engagement as a teaching tool and example for the people that he was the one giving them the victories and guiding their way. They were to follow the law and his instructions completely to every jot and tittle (Lev 18:23-30). Achan disobeyed and in fact did not come clean and tell the truth until it was obvious, even to his family who had seen the riches and material. They also did not say anything, nor rebuke or exhort Achan to give back the riches. Achan was the leader of his family along with his wife who was somewhat in collusion as she had to know of the ill-gotten loot as well. In Jewish culture, Achan would have been responsible for teaching obedience and the principles of God and the Law to his family. If the teachings from which all in the family receive their education in character is corrupted, will not those exposed to it be corrupted as well? (1 Kings 15:26, 22:52) God was trying to keep the people pure and had already given specific elements of the Law to the people. The sole purpose was to “cut off sin from among the people” (Num 15:31). The animals and material wealth of Achan had also been perverted by disobeying, taking what is God’s, and intermingling the animals and goods with his own. Thus was Achan
introducing “leaven” into what was meant to be an “unleavened” people, a peculiar people, a separated people. The loss to Ai damaged the faith of the people and caused the deaths of many Jewish soldiers. God always deals with sin.
As far as the innocent animals or people (children), recall that in the great flood, all things that breathed upon the earth except those within Noah’s Ark perished. That included children, animals, etc. We must trust God’s wisdom, judgment, and love to determine when he thinks mercy will not help or would be detrimental. We see that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was actually a mercy because of their gross wickedness. One point that should also be raised is that human beings’ death is never in vain. The scripture is clear that all (both good and bad) will be resurrected (John 5:28-29, 1 Cor. 15:22). Those who were good will have a resurrection of life and those that are evil will have a resurrection of pure teaching, development and testing. This is the whole purpose of Christ’s Kingdom (millenium). This is so that ALL will have the opportunity to everlasting life whether in heaven as spirit beings or those on earth to everlasting life in an Eden like world free of sin. God created man in his image, not animals. God will always provide for life on earth and will ensure the earth endures forever (Eccl.1:4).