Compromise: Joshua 7:1-8:29

Coincides with Sunday,  October 2, 2016 

(Study only Chapter 7 )

The story of Ai is one of the two foundational battle stories to be recorded for future generations of God’s people. After these two battles, all the people will gather to hear the Law being read, a sign that they were now present in the promised land and ready to do God’s will there. Whereas the story of Jericho describes the successful first battle, their failure at Ai tells why Israel experienced defeat. Both stories offer foundational lessons for the Christian life from the contrasting perspectives of victory and failure.

Preliminary question

  • What are some kinds of small compromises people often make?

TAKING IN: Understanding?

  • What are the repeated words and ideas?
  • Observe what each of the characters does and says:
    • Achan
    • Joshua
    • The LORD
  • In Hebrew verse 1 is structured chiastically:
    • The people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things…
      • Achan…took some of the devoted things
    • And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.
    What ideas are being communicated through this structure?
  • What were the “devoted things”? (See the previous chapter.)
  • Observe how the people are described after fleeing from Ai (7:5). Who else in Joshua has been described in this way?
  • From Joshua’s prayer (6-9) what did he assume was the problem?
  • This is the second time that Joshua fell on his face, the first being in 6:14. What is the difference between the two occasions? Why does God sort of rebuke him this time (7:10)?
  • Compare the number of times “Israel” is used in this story to the number of times the name “Achan” is mentioned. What do you learn from this?
  • What was wrong with Achan’s actions? (See 7:15.)
  • What were the effects of Achan’s sin?
  • This is one of several “sin” stories that feature at the beginning of new developments in Scripture. Others include the sins of Aarons’ sons on the day the priests were ordained (Leviticus 11) and Ananias and Sapphira when the church first began (Acts 5). In each case the judgment was swift and strong. Why do you think this is the case?

LIVING OUT: Applying

  • Is there such a thing as secret sin? (In thinking about this question, you might want to refer to Psalm 32.)
  • This story shows how one person’s sin affects the entire community. What are some ways that you have seen this principle at work?
  • Do you feel that the judgment was overly harsh?
  • Why do you think God acted so severely in this case but seems to overlook many other transgressions?
  • How would apply (or want to apply) the lesson of this story to your life?
  • How does Jesus fulfill this story? (Hint: pay attention to the repeated idea of God’s anger that begins and ends the story.)


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