Coveting Beauty

The initial seed of sin is when we do not obey the voice and commandment of the Lord.

There is nothing wrong with beautiful things. But when their beauty captivates our eyes and our heart more than the beauty of Christ, then we have begun to worship false gods. Achan had cherished the things devoted to the LORD more than he cherished the LORD. And the consequence for his false worship was that he became what he worshiped. He became devoted to destruction.


As the people of God stood on the banks of the Jordan River and cast a wishful eye toward the Promised Land, Moses passed the mantle of leadership over to Joshua. As the new leader of the people, Joshua was to take the people across that river, remove the Canaanites, and take possession of the land the Lord had promised them. The first city to be handed over to Israel was Jericho. In a miraculous battle, the Israelites destroyed the city wall with a shout and completely overwhelmed the city. The people were strictly charged that except for Rahab and her family, “all that is within [the city] shall be devoted (Hebrew herem) to the LORD for destruction” (Josh 6:17). Silver, gold, bronze, and iron was to go into the treasury of the LORD. This first city was to be offered to the LORD as the firstfruits of their receiving the Promised Land. The dedication of the devoted things was a spiritual offering to God. It was worship.

“But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things” (Josh 7:1). Achan, the son of Carmi, had taken some of the devoted things for himself. But Achan’s sin went unnoticed by most for some time. It wasn’t until Joshua led the people into battle again that the consequences of Achan’s sin were felt by the people.

The next city to be taken was Ai. Joshua sent fewer men than before but these soldiers fled from the men of Ai. Thirty-six of the Israelites died and the hearts of the people “melted like wax” (Josh 7:5). Joshua was undone. He tore his clothes and fell before the LORD asking why this had happened. The LORD responded to Joshua and revealed that the people had broken covenant by taking the devoted things. The people had stolen the things devoted for destruction and lied about it, now the LORD would devote the people to destruction.

Achan still did not confess his sin. Only after Joshua cast lots and narrowed it down to the tribe of Judah, then the clan of the Zerahites, the family of Zabdi, the son of Carmi, and then to Achan, only then was Achan exposed. At this point Achan confessed his sin to Joshua. “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them” (Josh 7:20, 21). The sin of the people was now exposed to the light.

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