Just after Israel crossed the Jordan river and entered the promised land, God commanded concerning Jericho, through Joshua, Chaptrer 6:17-19--
"The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD." NASU
Notice the corporate judgment promised, if anyone coveted and took the things that had been devoted to the Lord, the whole camp would suffer. Judgment upon the innocent for the sins of Achan is a good lesson for us to learn today. The innocent suffer because of the sins of the guilty. God’s intention is to keep sin out of the camp, so that all may be blessed.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”
Israel was defeated by the people of Ai on their first attempt, because of Achan’s sin. Innocent people died in the aborted attack upon Ai, and later all of Achan’s family died, because of Achan taking five shekels of silver and one shekel of gold, and a garment.
Some may object that punishment of the innocent for the sins of the guilty is not fair. Well, I will never call what God does unfair. He is the Creator, He is God, and His ways are far beyond my understanding. But I can learn several things from this example.
One thing to be learned is that when God speaks through His prophet, we are wise to listen. God has devoted the first fruits to Himself. This is a principle that all of us need to learn. We cannot be successful in life until we give God the offering of the first fruits. This offering is pictured in the sacrifices required under the Law of Moses, where the first fruits of crops, animals, and offspring were devoted to God. There was a requirement of paying a redemption price for the firstborn child, five shekels of silver (Num 18:16).
The spoils of the first conquest in Canaan were to be devoted to God, the first fruits of the conquest of Canaan. Achan stole from God because of his lack of respect for the power and being of God. Had he been willing to honor God, and honor the gift of first fruits of the spoils, he could have gone on and received his share of the spoils of Ai, the next city to be conquered. God gave the spoil of that city to the children of Israel as reward for their faithfulness. But by that time Achan and all his family had been stoned to death in the Valley of Achor.
What is the offering of first fruits mean for us today? I think it is devoting our lives to God. Jesus said, Matt 6:33--"
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Jesus also said, Matt 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; Luke 17:33--"
"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” NASU
All who want to come to Jesus must first offer ourselves to God, dying to self, and trusting God for life. This is an act of repentance, a change of direction. We must give ourselves as the first fruit of our lives for God. This action is pictured in our obedience to the gospel. The Holy Spirit testified through Paul, 2 Thess 1:7-10—“
“when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day.”
We must honor the commands of God in order to escape judgment. Why would anyone fail to obey the gospel? Only because they are thinking like Achan, and not respecting the commandments of God.