We start the chapter with a rather ominous "but". "The Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread, BUT the Israelites acted unfaithfully". Achan took some of the devoted things. In verse 11 that he not only stole, but he lied and kept the possessions for himself. Achan brought destruction upon himself. He rebelled against God's commands and God saw the way he disregarded God but coveted the things that were His. Achan valued the things of the world and he thought he could become rich. If no one else knew, then there would be no consequences. He was wrong and he ended up paying with his life.
Achan was not the only one to pay dearly. About 36 Israelite men (Josh 7:5) died when God did not give the nation victory as they were harboring sin in their camp. Not only did these men die, but they likely left widows and children who would need to be cared for. God saw the ruin that came to these families. Discouragement spread through the entire camp.
Joshua didn't know the reason God had departed from the people, so he prayed to God with the elders of Israel asking God "why". Joshua didn't see, but God did. Joshua called upon God to defend his great name among the heathen lands. God saw Joshua's broken heart and questioning faith. God saw Joshua's great dependence on God and took pity.
In order to root out sin the entire camp must be consecrated. Sin impacts the entire culture and spreads. Consider how many people use the excuse "everybody else is doing it" as justification to engage in wrong acts. The entire camp must rededicate thselves to God making a clear choice to abandon their own ways and follow God's.
Achan's entire family was stoned with him. They may or may not have been involved in the actual act, but surely they were in on the secret and chose Achan's side when it came to hiding what he had done. They had embraced the worldly thinking that had led Achan astray. When we are aware of sin and do nothing to point people to the right, we are complicit in their acts. God allows many even today to pursue their worldly passions, but we can rest assured, God sees and there is judgment.
What can we learn for our lives? If we are engaged in sin, we should turn from it completely and confess it to God asking His forgiveness. If we are aware of sin, we should lovingly point people back toward God and pray with them and encourage them. If someone else's sin has brought hardship and tragedy in our lives, God sees we can trust He will champion our cause. If someone in our care or under our leadership is undermining the work for selfish purposes we should look to God for wisdom and where sin is exposed, we should deal with it. There is no casual sin. All sin is deserving of eternal death and separation from God. God will not associate with our sin or look kindly upon it, so we must make a choice. Will we be on the side of sin or on the side of God?
We have great encouragement from God's own word. 1 John 1:9 (HCSB)
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Jesus came so that we sinners could have a hope of Heaven as our penalty is paid and we can now be free to choose, life or death. Choose life.
May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.