This chapter opens with a significant and ominous "But." So far we have had the record of remarkable progress –but! We now see the triumphant people defeated and flying and the reason is declared. It was the sin of a man, but it was also the sin of the nation. Israel had now become a nation in very deed, and therefore no one person could act alone. Individualism is a far more tremendous responsibility when it has ceased to be mere individualism. The sin of the one became the sin of the community, and all the hosts of God were defeated and His enterprises checked because one man had disobeyed.
The story of Achan's sin as he told it is full of warning. Mark carefully its progress; "I saw," "I coveted," "I took."
The confession he made was complete, but it was worthless. The reason of its worthlessness lay in the fact that it was never made until there was no escape. Gradually the walls closed around him until not on his own confession, but by the appointed method of divine detection, he was manifested as guilty.
Joshua's cry to God as recorded here was a cry full of agony, and, as in the case of Moses, its deepest note of sorrow was created by his jealousy for the name of God.
the Second Week after Epiphany