In the morning therefore you shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be…
This leads us to remark that -
I. EVERY SIN IS KNOWN TO GOD. Joshua was ignorant that Achan had secreted spoil, but the searching glances of God reached further than the most watchful oversight of the leader. As afterwards, when the disciples did not suspect the character and intents of Judas, the Lord discerned the sinister proposes of his heart. The omniscience and omnipresence of the Almighty have been strangely disregarded even by His own servants. Witness the curious flight of Jonah, as if he could really "flee from the presence of the Lord." "I know thy works" is the heading to the practical address in nearly each of the seven letters to the Churches of Asia. "Thou God seest me."
II. SIN REVEALED BY FAILURE IN AN UNDERTAKING. The overthrow of Jericho inspired the Israelites with such confidence that they disdained to employ all their forces in assaulting Ai. To their surprise, their attack was repulsed with loss. The greater the previous security, the more intense the subsequent alarm. They were unconscious of the presence of a traitor in the camp. The theft of Achan was a stronger opponent than the men of the city. Sin destroys our power. As one has quaintly observed, "In running a race, an inward pain hinders more than if a dozen men jostled you." When men have taken cold, they immediately reflect where they could have been exposed to draught, and non success in any enterprise causes us to inquire. What have we done amiss? Trouble leads us to scrutinise our past life, conscience accuses of sins which have deserved, if they have not actually drawn upon us, this proof of Divine displeasure. Self examination is healthful if not carried to excessive lengths; it may produce "carefulness, clearing of ourselves," etc. (2 Corinthians 7:11). The effect of sin is not confined to the particular guilty member. Sin taints the community, or often involves it in its suffering. As a drop of ink discolours a whole glass of water, so thousands of innocent persons may be affected by the neighbourhood of one sinner. This concerns us individually, for if one limb offends, the body is defiled; and collectively, as members of Churches, and as belonging to a nation.
III. THE OFFENCE MADE KNOWN IN ANSWER TO PRAYER. Deep was Joshua's solicitude. With the elders of Israel he rent his clothes and fell prostrate before the ark all day. To a lover of God, the belief that His favour is withdrawn is the most overwhelming sorrow. Nor is the grief merely selfish in its origin. Joshua lamented the dishonour which would be affixed to the glorious name of Jehovah when the news of Israel's defeat was bruited abroad. Prayer is the believer's unfailing resource. Receiving any woful tidings, he "spreads the letter," like Hezekiah, before the Lord. He ventures to plead, to expostulate, to argue. And the answer surely arrives though it appear long to tarry. In this narrative we find Joshua reproved for imagining that God would arbitrarily desert His people. He might have known that something was wrong in the conduct of the nation, and his inquiry should have been, Wherein have we offended? We must not at once rush to the conclusion that the events which befal us are "judgments," for when we think God's smile is absent, it may be flint the clouds of our marshy land interrupt the heavenly rays. Nevertheless the advice of the preceding paragraph holds good, and the rebuke administered to Joshua may be often seasonably applied to ourselves.
IV. THE OFFENDER MANIFESTED. The drawing of a lot was the means resorted to on all important occasions for appointment to positions of honour or shame. Picture the gradual contraction of the circle of fire till it enwrapped only "the troubler of Israel," and he stood before all the people as the cause of a national disgrace. The slow and stately discovery, as well as the proceedings of the day before, afforded time to the criminal to reveal himself, if he would. What must have been his feelings as he saw detection drawing nearer and nearer till it pointed its finger to his breast, saying, "Thou art the man!" The method of manifestation also afforded time for the spectators to be thoroughly aroused, so that they might appreciate more deeply the awfulness of the sin committed, and be ready with one shout to inflict the penalty due thereto. God may advance slowly, but His step is sure. Delay is no presumption of final impunity.
V. We see lastly, THE FOLLY OF SIN. Achan "wrought folly in Israel" (ver. 15). The word means stupidity - as Abigail uncomplimentarily remarked of her husband, "Nabal is his name and folly is with him." Sin is certain of detection. Known to the Almighty, He often brings it into the light of day here, and will surely manifest it hereafter. Sin imperils real, enduring bliss for the sake of transitory gratifications. A little pleasure, and severest pain; for brief fame, lasting infamy; for temporary wealth, eternal loss. - A
Parallel VersesKJV: In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man.
WEB: "'In the morning therefore you shall be brought near by your tribes. It shall be that the tribe which Yahweh selects shall come near by families. The family which Yahweh selects shall come near by households. The household which Yahweh selects shall come near man by man.