If the lot has appointed Achan, Joshua doesn’t ask if Achan did it. It is clear, for God has spoken. But Joshua doesn’t start cursing him, nor does he address him with ‘thief’. It is not appropriate to approach in this way a member of God’s people who is deluded by sin and even hardened. Such an approach reveals a total lack of self-knowledge. Indignation over sin must not lead to a loss of self-control.
By addressing Achan as “my son” Joshua lets hear the connection in which he sees himself to Achan. He doesn’t feel better than Achan. Yet sin must be acknowledged and judged. If Joshua urges Achan to give God the honor, it is more a command than a request. God is honored when the whole truth is confessed. Every human being will be forced to do this (Phil 2:10-1110so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.).
In the confession of Achan we see the way on which one comes to sin. It is ancient history: seeing, coveting and taking (Gen 3:66When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make [one] wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.; 1Jn 2:1616For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.; Jam 1:14-1514But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.).
The LORD only says that there is stolen (verse 1111Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put [them] among their own things.), but He does not say what has been stolen. He wants the transgressor to do this. Achan mentions the stolen goods by their name (verse 2121when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”). God does not want a general confession, but He wants us to mention sin by its name. In this way someone is forced to give back to God what he has stolen from Him (Job 20:1515“He swallows riches,
But will vomit them up;
God will expel them from his belly.
What belongs to the LORD, Achan has stolen for himself. Just as it was in the wrong hands with Jericho, so it is in the wrong hands with Achan. Just like the world, the people of God can also use the things that belong to the LORD for themselves. The Lord gives gifts, abilities. He wants us to use them for Him, to add them to the treasure of the LORD (Jos 6:1919But 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.”). The sin of Achan can also be found with us. Then we adorn ourselves with what belongs to the Lord, we draw attention to ourselves, seek our own honor, we want to please people and not the Lord.
The first thing Achan calls, is “a beautiful mantle from Shinar”. His words seem to reveal that even now he still regrets having to return this mantle. Although he does not apologize, there is no evidence anywhere that he regrets his act. This kind of people worries more about the fact that they have been discovered than that they see what they have done. They also have no eye for the harmful consequences that their actions have for others.
Pride and haughtiness are connected with Shinar or Babel. We can see that from the city and the tower that was built there (Gen 11:4,94They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top [will reach] into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”9Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.). In Babel lies also the origin of idolatry: she is “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Rev 17:55and on her forehead a name [was] written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”). The term “abominations” refers to idols. The “mantle from Shinar” speaks of a religion that is practiced only for the satisfaction of the flesh. It has a beautiful appearance, but there is no life out of and for God present. We cloth ourselves with a “mantle from Shinar” when we give our religion a beautiful shape that is attractive to people of the world.
The second thing Achan calls, is silver. The atonement money is half a shekel of silver (Exo 30:1515The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves.; 38:2525The silver of those of the congregation who were numbered was 100 talents and 1,775 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary;). Silver refers to the price paid for redemption. In the hands of Achan this means that there is a profession of being saved, while there has been no repentance of sins and no conversion to God. It applies to Christians who presumptuously claim to have been saved by virtue of fulfilling certain institutions, such as baptism and Supper, or by belonging to a certain denomination or covenant.
The third thing Achan calls is a bar of gold or ‘a golden tongue’. Gold represents the glory of God. To ‘a golden tongue’ the thought of speaking about the things of God without the heart having a part in them is connected. Liberal theologians have “a golden tongue”, but “With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips” (Rom 3:1313“Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”;). It sounds pleasant and biblical to speak of a God of love, but if one does not speak of God as being light, one speaks with a ‘golden tongue’.
Achan has “concealed” these things “in the earth”. This speaks of a use of things for oneself, in connection with life on earth, without seeking the rights of the Lord. He resembles the unfaithful slave, about whom the Lord Jesus speaks in a parable (Mt 25:1818But he who received the one [talent] went away, and dug [a hole] in the ground and hid his master’s money.). Achan also suffers the fate of that slave, who the Lord calls “wicked, lazy slave” and also “worthless slave” (Mt 25:26,3026“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no [seed].30Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.).