I sometimes wonder what Mrs. Achan might have been thinking when the first stone of judgment hit her.
“How did I get myself into this?!”
“Why did I marry this man?!”
Poor Mrs. Achan! She, her children, and even their livestock all paid for a transgression that was committed only by their father. It’s a sad truth, but more often than not, our sins are not as singular as we would like to think.
Flashback to the Garden of Eden
This sin-sharing scenario isn’t new though. Achan was not the first person to be so generous with his iniquities. The first person who had the unfortunate idea was Adam. The Scriptures tell us in Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. The ‘one man’ being spoken about here is our ancestor, Adam. He opened a door for sin and death that swallowed up people he didn’t even know! Just like the Achan family, here we are today reeling from the foolish decision one man made!
“How cruel! How thoughtless and selfish! Why don’t people keep their sins to themselves and leave the rest of us to live out our own lives in peace?!”
I hear you.
But it’s not that easy a situation to remedy.
There’s No Way to Know the Outcome
There is no way to predict which sin we can commit that will not swoop our entire lineage, community, church, or country into bondage. As bad as Achan’s situation was, I strongly doubt he honestly intended to get his family in trouble, let alone the entire nation of Israel. It was just his little secret; his private fun. It’s not like he had involved his wife in it. She didn’t even know about what was hiding beneath the floor of his tent (Joshua 7:20-21).
Not like Mr. And Mrs. Ananias and Sapphira. They were both equal participants in their sin (Acts 5:1-10). They both ended up paying for it.
This also contradicts the belief that it’s only the leaders who get us into trouble. Ok. Achan was the head of his family so that counts, but he had no leadership role in Israel. He was just your regular Israelite family guy who attended temple services every week. Yet, the skeleton in his closet cost Israel an embarrassing and deadly defeat.
No, it’s not just the Pastor who is required to live a holy life. No, you don’t have to be a leader in the body of Christ to walk circumspectly.
So What About Repentance?
Repentance is good. The Bible is filled with admonitions to repent. But when we hear about repentance we often assume that there will be no consequences. The unfortunate reality is that by the time we repent, the damage has already been done.
David repented after his sin with Bathsheba. But the damage had already been done – Bathsheba was smeared, Uriah was dead, the child of adultery got sick and died, and judgment was upon David’s house. His sons would revolt against him as a direct fallout of what he shouldn’t have done with Bathsheba. But he had repented, so it was all ok, I guess. (#sarcasm)
Another king features here too. That is King Uzziah. He had a glorious reign in righteousness until he got proud and dared to enter the temple and offer incense. He became leprous as a consequence. He may have repented, but look closely at something else that happened.
In 2 Chronicles 27:2, Uzziah’s son, Jotham was reigning in his father’s place, doing what was right – except for one thing: he did not enter the temple. I’m not the greatest Bible scholar, but I suspect there is a connection between Uzziah getting struck with leprosy in the temple and his son’s refusal to go to the temple. Could it be that a seed of fear was sown by daddy’s actions? (I stand to be corrected if my surmising is not a true exegesis…or would that be eisegesis?)
Repentance doesn’t always make everything right. It will save the soul, but it will not spare us from needing to face the practical results of our sins, sometimes for a lifetime. Sadly, those consequences may include a whole lot of people.
I’m Not Trying To Scare You
It is not always easy to receive reminders like this one. We would much rather be given a comforting pat on the shoulder that makes us think everything is alright. But the consequences of sin are too real and far-reaching for us not to take things seriously.
We don’t just live for ourselves. The things ‘I’ do can end up having a ‘we’ impact. ‘My’ sin can become ‘our’ problem. Whenever we sin, even when nobody else knows, we open doors. These doors can become snares for the innocent people around us. This is not meant to scare you or discourage you. This is an exhortation that will, hopefully, help all of us to think more soberly the next time we are tempted.