Today I wept as I read how the decisions of one man devastated his entire family. You see this man — an Israelite soldier — blatantly violated God’s very clear instructions, and the consequences of his actions were shatteringly traumatic. I've read this historical account before, but today, I slowed down to linger for some perspective.
The man's actions drew God's favor away from his fellow servicemen, and thirty-six of them — thirty-six! — were needlessly killed in a battle they should have won. Worse, his family — his entire family!! (including his sons and daughters!) — received the severest of punishments: execution by stoning.
Why? Because in spite of the fact that God said NOT to take ANY plunder from the battle, Achan (pronounced ey-kan) did it anyway. He "saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound." And by his own admission he said, "I wanted them so much that I took them" (Joshua 7:21-22).
I stopped to imagine what one might have seen and heard as this story unfolded. Was Achan distraught with anguish, buckling at his knees, hit with the understanding that his actions brought premature death to his comrades? Were their widows wailing at the thought of raising fatherless children? Did they find Achan in his tent and pound their fists on his chest in disgust?