When the Israelites destroyed Jericho they were told to destroy everything except certain types of metals (gold, silver, bronze, etc.) which were to be collected for the temple treasury. Nothing was to be kept by any individual. However, Achan was tempted and he took a few things for himself. Unfortunately no one realized this.
The army then moved on to spy out the city of Ai. They decided they only need 3,000 men because it was a small city. The soldiers set out to defeat Ai, but for some reason became frightened and ran away! When Joshua found out he was very upset and fell on his face and begged to know why the men lost courage. The Lord told him that someone had sinned by keeping goods from Jericho, therefore God was not with them when they went against Ai. (Sin separates us from God) So Joshua then followed God’s plan to find the sinner. The next day everyone lined up by tribe, family and household. As they passed by Joshua, God revealed that the person was from the tribe of Judah, then the clan of Zarah, then the family of Zabdi. Finally they identified Achan as the man. He admitted it and then they took him and his family out and destroyed them.
To us that may sound very harsh, however God does not tolerate sin. His people knew that if they were going to defeat the people in the Promised Land they were going to have to follow after God whole heartedly. Achan had chosen to be disobedient in the very first battle. They could not afford to risk having someone around that might lead others astray.
We also should be careful about who we have around us. It is fine to be friends with people who need Jesus, but our best friends should be ones who are trying to live a holy life and help us to live one too!
Which of your friends are ones that are good influences on you? Which friends are you trying to be a good influence on? Which friends do you need to be careful that they don’t influence you to do the wrong thing?