Joshua: Day 5

Israel Cannot Stand Alone


Today's Text: Joshua 7:1-26, Joshua 8:1-35, Deuteronomy 9:26-29

Text: Joshua 7:1-26, Joshua 8:1-35, Deuteronomy 9:26-29

Who of us has not lamented like Joshua, beating our breasts and rending our garments, surveying the landscape of darkness, rebellion, and fear in front of us? Many of us have fretted that God’s name will not be made great, but all too often we say, “What can we do to make Your name great?” Joshua, praise God, got the pronoun right: “What will You do for your own great name?” (Joshua 7:9, emphasis mine).

It’s strange, the knots we tie ourselves up in, the puzzles we struggle to fit ourselves into, the efforts we put forth to be the bringers of greatness to God. We want to be the world changers and the history makers, the people of God for God, with nothing standing in our way. But Joshua, in the face of Israel’s abundant sin, knew if God’s name was to be great, He Himself would be the one to do itnot man.

We think the world will be changed by our short-term missionary journeys, fiery sermons, and quippy books. We think we can bring glory to God’s name with our efforts of authenticity, by racking up social media “likes” and “followers,” by planting new churches, both big and small. We think we’ll glorify Him by performing awesome acts in His name and creating large gatherings for prayer and praise—by centering most things on the gospel, and relying on great graphics to take care of the rest.

But in Joshua chapter 7, here is how God chose to make His name great:

Joshua lines up the twelve tribes.
Within those tribes, the clans.
Within those clans, the households.
Within those households, the men.
Then one man: Achen.

To him, Joshua says, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and make a confession to Him. I urge you, tell me what you have done. Don’t hide anything from me” (v. 19).

And here, among an entire nation, Achen is found out and then tells the truth: “I have stolen and I have hidden what I have stolen, and here is where it is” (vv. 20-21, my paraphrase).

But God already knew Achen and his actions. He knows ours, too.

What if the way God chooses to make His name great is the difficult, relentless, painful, and excruciatingly long process of unearthing sin in our lives? What if the way God makes His name great is not through public acts of piety, but private acts of repentance? What if His greatest act of glory is in exposing the darkest of lies our hearts have clung to, only to replace them with the light of His mercy and Truth?

As Charles Spurgeon said, “It is far easier to fight with sin in public, than to pray against it in private.”

Today, as you read this passage, do not ask how you can do great things for God. Instead, ask Him to unearth the secret sins in your heart, the places that need exposure to His light and healing in His presence. He knows them already and loves you still.


Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, tweets @lorewilbert, and posts photos @loreferguson. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

  • This was a much-needed reminder!

  • I found this article so helpful in understanding why God commanded the killing of inhabitants in the cities.

  • I am really struggling with these readings. From what happened to Achen, it seems to me that if I come forward with the bad things I have done, God is not going to love me and forgive me, but strike down me and my family. These really do not seem like actions of an all loving God who is pursuing me. Was God pursuing all those people who were killed? I also really struggle with all the people who sinned before Christ and never have the opportunity to meet him and have his forgiveness. I am struggling with what seems to be a contradiction- that no sin so great can separate me from the forgiveness of Christ, yet this person and his family were stoned. Thank you for letting me share here, I just feel like I am having a faith crisis.

    • Beth

      All people ho sinned before Christ had the opportunity to look forward in faith to his coming salvation on the cross. Many times we do not know all the circumstances as God does. Many times God has already given those people many opportunities to repent and they refuse. God will forgive a repentant heart, but many do not want to truly repent they want to come to God on their terms, not His.

      • katie

        Thank you for responding. I struggle sometimes to have a repentant heart. Then again, I also struggle to forgive. Sometimes it is so hard to accept things on God’s terms, not my own.

        • Rebecca

          You are not alone, I struggle with this too…I’ll be praying for both of us!

    • Emma

      I choose (and I’m not sure if this is the best or not) to see Achan as the sin that is inside me. If I turn my sin over to God and allow it to be totally destroyed, I can better work with God and he will be with me as I face more battles with sin – both inwardly and outwardly. Joshua 8 is very old testiment with all the ancient battles but it shows how we can defeat anything in our lives if we look toward God and try to live pure lives.

      • katie

        Thank you for your insight. I am feeling a lot better about it. My husband pointed out ISIS and how they are committing genocide of Christians, and would I disagree about killing them? It gave me a lot to think about. I don’t comment much here, but this community of women has really helped me understand the Bible and my faith a lot more just by reading and being here. Thank you!

        • Mallory

          It’s good that you are wrestling. Not questioning…but wrestling for answers with God– similar to Joshua himself in chapter 7, verses 6-9. Keep asking these questions and asking God to show you truth. He will! God’s ways are higher and better than ours, even when we cannot see or understand. We can trust and cling to the fact that He always keeps His word and His promises!

      • Elaina

        I so appreciate Lore’s take on Achen. She confirms for me the realization in the past 3-4 months that my greatest efforts for God are the ones that I make in prayer and repentance. It has been wonderfully humbling.
        So in response to you, Katie, and to add to what Emma said so eloquently, I have been one of actively and intentionally ridding myself from what offends God–you know, the fearful, resentful, bitter, unforgiving, selfish bits. It’s definitely a process!
        I have just finished reading through the Torah, and am now heading into Joshua. I can see clearly Israel’s sin and God’s unending forgiveness and mercy. I know that God is telling me that if I really want to “possess the land” He wants to give me, I need to rid myself of what hinders my fellowship with Him. There’s no other way. He is holy. Renew my mind. I am equipped as a warrior, am I not? It’s not enough to just try to “not go there”– I must actively and intentionally destroy those places by (daily, sometimes hourly) repentance and the power of the Holy Spirit so that those places are not even there as an option for me–just like Joshua is doing. I’m replacing those places with promises of His truth and focusing on Philippians 4:8.
        But even in God’s Old Testament wrath and judgment, I see Jesus calling me to repentance and freedom and to a land flowing with grace and forgiveness.

    • Amanda Marie

      Katie you are in my prayers, I’ve been where you are now standing and it is a difficult and confusing place to be. I do not know if this will help you, but the thing that brought me through that confusing place is the realization that we are so very blessed that God choose this point in time for our lives. We don’t have to live in fear of God’s judgement because Christ paid the price for us. He loved us enough to offer salvation from God’s wrath. While I still get sad for the suffering of the people in these stories it helps me to remember that the price of sin has always been death, nothing will change that, but how seriously blessed are we that that price has already been paid?
      And on another note, I truly believe that God did not judge in the way that he did to be cruel. I know that it must have hurt Him greatly to see them suffer because of their decisions. Sin coming into the world was never His plan and how it must have grieved Him to watch His people turn their backs on Him time and time again, knowing what the consequences of their choices were. While I feel so bad for the people who were judged, I also feel bad thinking of the pain that He felt being forced to judge them.
      Sister, you are in my prayers. I pray that the Lord will help you through this place with a revelation of His character and how he can be the unchanging God of the Old and New Testaments at once.

    • Rachel Smart-Gargasz

      Katie thank you for being brave and sharing. I too struggled with this scripture. I struggled to understand the stoning death of his family along with him. But as I read through the comments God showed me that we needed to see what life WITHOUT a Savior looked like! Thank you God for sending Your son! I also believe that these people had the chance to go with Jesus. When Jesus was resurrected He went into Abraham’s bosom to preach redemption though His death and at that point all who had died before Jesus was resurrected got a chance to make a choice! 1 Peter 3:19 “After being made alive, He went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits–” .

    • lish

      This is where we say thank you Jesus. In the olden days, Israel was the chosen nation, and other gentile nations worshipped other idols. In the earlier part where Rahab acknowledged God, you see His mercy extended towards her and her family even though she is gentile.

      God doesn’t change yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He does not and still does not tolerate sin. That was why Jesus had to be the perfect sacrifice to open the gate for us. It is because of His death that we are now judged by that perfect sacrifice, and not by our lousy works of faith. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, God can say “your sins I will remember NO MORE”. Before His death , in the old testament, it is different. Sins have to be punished.

    • Allie Smith

      Katie, I went through almost 2 years of struggle with what you are describing. Keep crying out to God, listen to some David Platt, read Tim Kellers “the reason for God,” speak with older believers who don’t portray an air of having it all together. The most mature believers have struggled through the hard questions; God wants us to work through these things so we can better help those who are still unbelievers. God will bring you through this; week him through it! Praying for you.

    • Alyssa

      Just my own thought on this, but I think what the death of Achan is demonstrating that God revealed the lies of his heart, which often consume us. In this instance, he was killed for the goodness of Israel. However, as time went on, Jesus comes along, and now we’re able to replace those lies within our hearts with Christ, which was unknown to the world at the time. (:

    • Natalie Moore

      A good point made in the Blue Letter Bible app is that the singular pronouns ‘you’ and ‘him’ in verse 25-26 refer to Achan. But the plural ‘they’ and ‘them’ refers to the objects that he stole. His family mostly likely witnessed their father’s punishment but weren’t part of it.

  • Perfect post. My husband has left me and my two small kids in the last 2 months. Right now his sin is pretty blatant, it makes it easy to be the victim. But I’m in need of a savior just as much as him, Lord, please uncover my sin that is in need of repenting.

    • Cristy Newlin

      I am sorry Kaitlyn. Yes, we need the light of truth in our lives as much as the person who has hurt us deeply. That was a god reminder me too. Praying for you this morning.

    • Allie Smith

      So sorry for the trial you are going through! Praying for you and your kiddos.

  • This was soooo convicting and a perfect reminder of God’s unfathomable love and forgiveness, and my need to stop thinking it’s all me.

  • Sisters can I please ask for your prayers for my oldest son. He’s 32 but has been living with us to get back on his feet after making some really terrible life choices. He has been quiet and withdrawn for years occasionally talking but not really ever sharing anything with us. He comes and goes without saying anything. I placed him on God’s lap years ago and it seemed like he was getting better but late Monday night he left the house and has not returned. He won’t answer his phone or our text messages. His one friend that we know of won’t return our calls. He has stopped going to work. We search the town but can’t find him. My heart aches that something terrible has happened and he doesn’t want to share it with us. We keep texting that we love him no matter what. I know that he is in God’s hands but this is killing me and my husband.

    • Jennifer

      Oh Candy, I will pray for you and your son.

    • Sarah

      Candy, I am praying for your son and family, that like the prodigal son he’ll run home and into the Father’s arms!

    • Sunny Days

      Candy, praying not only for your son but you and your family

    • Candy

      Thank you all so very much. Went to a city lake and sat on a rock by the water. God has given me a peace in my heart as we wait

    • churchmouse

      Praying right now and will ask my prayer warriors to also intercede.

    • Tina

      Candy praying for your son and you..praying his safe return peace of heart for yourselves and God be tangibly present through this…
      God be with you..

    • Cristy Newlin

      Yes, yes, yes – praying for your son and peace for his momma and daddy.

    • Karen Yingling

      Keep your mind constantly focused on Christ – the One raging storms obey. Trust that God will do whatever it takes to bring your son back to Himself and to you. The world is God’s prodigal son – He shares your pain and powerfully, perfectly works to bring each one of us back home. Including your family in my prayers each time I pray for my own prodigal.

  • Diane Huntsman

    So so so good. Thanks

  • As i was having a hard time reading the consequences of Achan’s sin and how his family paid for it too, God reminded me I cannot expect a perfect, holy God to tolerate sin. It just doesn’t work. I also need to remember God’s goodness and how his plan is perfect. God must love Achan and his family more than I can imagine, just like how he loves me despite my public as well as hidden sins. He is sovereign and I need to bow down and be silent. I remember on pastor once said, “when you disagree with God, God is always right.” Amen.

  • Dear God,
    Please continue to help us all listen to You and follow what you have shown us.
    Help us to continue trusting in You with all our hearts, and not to depend on our own understanding. Help us to seek Your will in all You do, and to show us which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
    Help us to remember you have never deserted those who seek your help. (Psalm 9:10)
    Thank You for teaching us to walk in faith and be free from fear by holding onto what You are as you continue teaching us and replacing our ways with Yours.
    We trust Your heart to lead, protect and preserve us.

  • After reading the scripture today I thought “how can God continue to forgive me and love me because I continue to sin the same sins over and and over again?’ But I’m reminded that God loves us without any stipulations. Then I thought of my own children and how I will love them to my death no matter what they do or don’t do over and over again. If I can love my children like that, think how much more God’s love is. What peace that gives me and hope that the Holly Spirit will help me to stop sinning the same sin over and over again.

  • churchmouse

    Once upon a time I had a great career I loved. And then once upon a time I had a public ministry platform. I was doing great work I loved, a work that could be seen and its effectiveness measured. Now, in this time, I am Mimi to a two year old. While I love this sweet child to infinity and beyond, there have been days of “what am I accomplishing for you these days , Lord? I’m back to wiping runny noses and doing potty training.” Now I know that family is my first mission field and it is noble , honorable, God-glorifying work but it is also often invisible, energy – depleting and, really, it doesn’t look, well , very spiritual. You can tell I’ve been having a bit of a pity party for myself. I want to do big things for Jesus like I was doing before… And, to be honest, maybe get some recognition for it also. SO… this devotion today certainly put me in my place. Let me first say I’m grateful for it. As Mimi, I’m up early – which gives me devotion and Bible study time before the sun comes up. This getting up early to serve as Mimi has enriched my prayer life and helped me to put down roots I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. My quiet time is my most precious valuable time. God has spoken such tender words of love and also strong words of conviction. “What if the way God makes His name great is not through public acts of piety, but private acts of repentance?” This. Yes. I bow my head at that sentence. He is glorified in my quiet time and He is glorified in my obedience to the calling of being Mimi. He does the glorifying of Himself through me, as I am obedient in this season. (I would post more but a little girl has to go potty. May God he glorified!)

    • TinaW

      Wow, what similarities, other than I have not been in a public career of ministry… but I have been the quiet servant behind the scenes, I have kicked and cried, dreaded the mornings, but once I realized I was to be the Naynah (grandma), I see my task at hand as a talent from God that is to be used to bring God into places He hasn’t been allowed. Hearts of loved ones, they are my mission field at this time and through just one granddaughter I am planted seeds for God’s harvest. Will I see the harvest fully ripened, I don’t know, and at times I have to stop bow and pray for forgiveness, because this job, I cannot do in my strength… I fail miserably.. But God… Thankfully I know when I am in tune to God and His will, I cannot fail.. so through this one small ever growing little girl, I will continue to be reminded that she is my bridge to the city of people God is calling out to… Forgive me if this is not clear, but I am not great with words, but felt the need to reply… God’s blessings on you all today.

    • Mel

      Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this. Fill in “mama” for “Mimi” and I’m in your shoes. What a blessing it is that your son/daughter have you to help raise their child. What a reassurance that “family is my first mission field and it is noble, honorable, God-glorifying work. I gave up my young, fresh creative business in order to raise my daughter. Every day I struggle with feeling insignificant, “invisible, enters depleting…” Your words are encouraging.

    • Sarah

      I’m so encouraged by this! Thank you for sharing Churchmouse. My husband and I decided I would be a stay-at-home mom a a few months ago after having my now 6-month old twin boys. I was delighted and still am but have definitely struggled with the same words you’ve shared. This week the Holy Spirit has gently guided me to say “Lord, I’m going to wash these bottles to your glory.”… or whatever the task may be! It is His doing to be glorified by these little, seemingly mundane tasks. Praise God for sending His Holy Spirit to use us for His glory. It is not by me!

    • Victoria

      Thank you, Churchmouse, for sharing you words of encouragement. “He is glorified in my quiet time and He is glorified in my obedience to the calling of being Mimi. He does the glorifying of Himself through me, as I am obedient in this season.”

    • April L.

      I enjoy your comments everyday. I am a preschool teacher and love my job. You are shaping and molding our next generation. Also, I was kept by my Mimi and Papa. You may have to wait until that 2 year old gets bigger but I feel quite sure, that is when you will reap your reward. My grands passed 3 years ago, and I miss them terribly. They were another set of parents to me. I still praise them for helping raise me. They taught me valuable lessons that you can’t learn in school. You have the opportunity to show Jesus to your 2 year old. I think close relationships with grandparents is so important for children and makes them appreciate life more.

  • It’s not even a case of being found out! God already knows…He already knows…What I have done, what I have thought, who I have been, or tried to be in my own strength. .agh. The sorrow of it all..
    But God..
    He loves me still…

    It is ‘easy’to sing of God’s goodness..when you have seen Him move, when prayers are answered, when life is great. . BUT
    Yesterday, I spoke of our pastor and the devastating effect his departure has had on our church…He had stood at the front, proclaiming the word..praising and glorifying the Lord God, all the while he was hiding his secret, I guess more from us because God already knew… ( I promise you, I am not judging, just using this as an example), but king David and Auchen before him, not to mention those of us that have followed since..
    Lore asks ‘what if the way God makes His name great is not through public a acts of piety, but private acts of repentance? What if His greatest act of glory is on exposing the darkest of lies our hearts have clung to, only to replace with the light of His Mercy and Truth. .
    He knows. .He has known. He will always know..
    How awesome that knowing ALL, He still, still, still desires take things right for us, and not to abandon us…
    Absolutely in awe, and ever so thankful for His love, mercy and call to repent for His glory. .
    Lord, unearth the secret sins in my heart, expose them to your Light and healing, that your glory may be revealed…
    Thank you Lord God for loving me still, no matter my wrong..
    All glory to you on Lord. .
    Love and blessings to you my sisters…happy Friday. .xx

  • Ljohnson

    Whoa… THIS. This is getting it on some really deep level. Goodbye fluffy morning devo. Hello digging deep into what God is doing in my life. “What if the way God makes himself great is not through public acts of piety, but private acts of repentance.” I keep learning that the way up is down. That’s a major theme throughout all of scripture. And I have to keep learning it over and over. It’s ALWAYS about God. We are not the main character in our own story. I have got to get off the throne.

    • Robin W.

      Tough stuff this morning, for sure. Thanks for the reminder to get off the throne.

  • So goood!

  • Heather (MNmomma)

    Wow, wow, wow! So incredibly convicting this morning….

  • Leah❤️

    I was wondering why God was so harsh on Achen. Then I realized that his sin cost 36 men to be killed. He stole precious metals that were to be added to God’s treasury! His sin affected the entire nation of Israel. Our sin isn’t just ours–it affects others.

    • Tina

      Leah, it seems such a harsh punishment for Achen and his family, when these days a small prison sentence will suffice. .but I think that there is always consequence for our actions, but, I think, it is not about the punishment, it is about knowing God, a relationship with Him. If we are always striving for His light to shine on the darkness in our hearts..We glorify Him.
      Blessing s to you dear friend. .x

    • Rhonda

      Good point, Leah…sin is not contained to the sinner. It has a ripple effect and spreads to effect others.

  • I’ve been thinking over the difference between living for our own glory and living for the glory of God and I love the way this was said. Truly, only God can make his name great – and when we lose sight of that, we give ourselves a lot more credit than we’re owed.

    Loved this. So thankful for the reminder that God is greatly glorified in exposing the darkened within our hearts and gifting us with mercy and truth

  • Christina

    Sobering. Convicting. Breathtaking. Thank you.

  • Christa Fowler

    WOWZERS… This completely knocked me on my rear end. Thank you, Lord, for this reminder. “Unearth” the secret sins in my life, heal and restore as You see fit. Amen.

  • Elizabeth

    Wow!! Thank you God for being bigger, more of everything than my words and thoughts are capable of forming. And yet… you love me! ❤️

  • Alexandria

    Whoa….so…true. not us, but Him. It’s always Him and what He does….

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