Sin in the Camp

Kirk C., April 26, 2001

In Joshua 7 there is an intriguing story that shows us the seriousness of sin in the camp of Israel and the need for recovery to keep Gods presence. The story line goes like this; Achan was one of the soldiers that God used to destroy Jericho. In the destruction of this city Achan succumbs to temptation and takes a portion of the spoils of that city.

The Lord had clearly directed that everything was to be destroyed and none of the spoil was to be taken, Achan had rebelled against God’s commandment. It is because of this sin where this man had stolen a wedge of gold and a beautiful garment that results in the only true defeat of God’s people in the book of Joshua. In Joshua 7 two processes of God are revealed. First, we see the Process of Discovery; second we see the Process of Recovery.

The Process of Discovery

Several things occur here that are noteworthy. First, others beside Achan suffer because of his sin. Deut 24:16 says," The father shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin." The principal of this verse is seen in Abrams prayer in Gen 18:23, "Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" God is not unjust to judge the innocent as guilty with the wicked, yet in Joshua 7 with the sin of Achan, thirty-six people are killed in the process of discovery and Achan’s whole family, sons and daughters are judged guilty and condemned with him.

How can this be, unless they had shared in his guilt? I believe that in the evidence of this apparent contradiction there is a profound lesson. Others had witnessed Achan’s sin and done nothing to stop him. Other soldiers had seen him steal the accursed things and had in their silence been accomplices in the sin. Family members had seen the sinful act and in the cowardice of silence bore in the guilt of the act.

Perhaps you think that the previous did not happen, that my meditation is a little long, and too much imaginative force was applied here. Then you must provide honest answers to the following. How did Achan bring away such accursed treasure without other Israeli soldiers seeing? How did he bury them under his tent without his family’s observations? The hardest question of all is, if Achan was the (single shooter) only conspirator in the crime, why did God clearly judge others in his sin?

In Gods faithfulness, sin in the camp cannot be covered up and must be attended to. In verse 12 there is strong warning and the key verse to this whole incident. "Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you." This threat is reminiscent of that given to the Ephesians, "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." God makes clear the seriousness of allowing sin in the camp by threatening the departure of His presence.

The Lord does not strike Achan down in a single sin judging lightening bolt. The Lord does not tell Joshua who the guilty one is; instead He has all of Israel stand before Joshua in an accounting of tremendous soul searching. In this accounting all Israel is called to ask, "Am I guilty, do I have part in this sin?" When Achan is finally recognized as the troubler of Israel, we learn something about the process of recovery.

The Process of Recovery

This process did not include the shrink and the rehab support group; it was not complicated and obscure. The simplicity of the recovery process is seen throughout scripture as confession and repentance. Simple as it is, without it recovery cannot occur and there is no guarantee of God’s presence. Ichabod declares that the glory of the Lord has departed. This departure happened several times in Israel’s history. It is noteworthy that His departure only occurs when there is compromise in the recovery process.

Achan is clean in his confession; there is no blame shifting or historical revision here. Achan does not attack Joshua with personal insult or go into a self-pity mode like, ‘Well, you know how poor my family is.’ Cleanliness in confession is key to the recovery process. Achan says, "I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done…I saw…I coveted…and took…"


The valley of Achor is the burial place of Achan and the end of his sin. It is a valley that was visible with "a great heap of stones". Demonstrative repentance of all involved is part of the recovery process. There should be no doubt of the repentance, it is to be visible and bold. Such that the angels in heaven can point at and give glory to God, saying," see the goodness of God there in that." In 2 Corinthians we see a recovered assembly. Paul notes the demonstrative repentance of the individual and the assembly in 7:11, "For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter." I believe the angels were saying, "Yea," too.

Conclusive Applicable Questions

In the recent sin and accounting in David Geftakys's life where has the discovery and recovery process been observed? Is the presence of God the concern or simply the covering of a stain in this ministry? The assembly of Ephesus was visionary and heavenly. Where is that testimony today? It is simply a place where tourists visit ancient Greek Architecture. This question does not imply a fruitless work of God was in Ephesus, nor is it questioning that God did something special there, for, "Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever." It is not that it did not influence its generation for the eternal gospel, but rather that God’s working moved somewhere else because of compromise in the recovery process. 

Public accusations have been made against George and Betty. What has been done to clear/resolve these? These are not accusations from someone who leaves with an axe to grind going to the author of a book like Churches That Abuse, but rather, accusations from family members who deserve some genuine outreach. David’s abuse was not limited to Judy; many have felt his insults and forceful manipulations. His control-mongering was not only in his family but also in the family of God. These things need light and recovery. I am told that David has repented. I simply ask where? Where is the fruit of this?

George has indicated that he wants to stay away from this. I question the value of distancing himself from his own family members and their sin, especially when he and Betty are implicated.

Samuel, Abijah and Joel

Samuel had two sons who were abusive men. Men who abused God’s people and the whole kingdom was disturbed by their treachery. As a result of this abusive behavior ,the Lord’s people gave up the vision of ‘God is our king’. Instead they wanted to be 'like the other nations’. They said, "Make us a king to judge us like all the nations." Although you see error in Samuel’s responsibility as a father, you see that he was accountable as a judge and prophet to the Lord’s people. He gave a public accounting of his life and was open for public rebuke and entreaty (1Sam 12). This humility is what holds Samuel guiltless of the nations compromise of raising up an earthly king.

Where is George’s accounting and public clearing of accusations? Where is the humility of saying something like, "…I really blew it here in holding David to account…It is too bad that I disregarded brethren’s counsel concerning David’s returning back to Fullerton…I am so sorry that Judy’s cries for help were not heeded more carefully…", or possibly the need is to be publicly accountable in other ways, by saying something like, "I wanted my son to hold a certain position in my ministry and so I extended preferential treatment, this was poor judgment on my part that has contributed to this mess…I am sorry that I did not know how Betty counseled couples concerning abusive husbands or I would not have allowed this…How could this have happened under my nose? This shows a negligence that I am repenting of…"

The Loyalties of Jonathan

Jonathan is a complex character in the word of God. He was a prince of Israel, a warrior of God, a fan and friend of David and a son of Saul. What we want to see in this meditation is that Jonathan attempted to have more than one loyalty; he made covenants with David and had loyalties to his father Saul and in his end there was loss because of this conflict.

Loyalty is the unswerving allegiance of ones faithfulness. It is being faithful in allegiance to ones cause, ideal or custom. Covenants and commitments are where ones loyalties are revealed. Is it possible to have multiple loyalties? Mat. 6 is clear that one can only serve one master. Is the believer to have loyalties to another than the Lord’s Anointed? The Lord’s Anointed is the One and only Son of David, the Lord Jesus Himself. In the Old Testament the Lord’s anointed was seen in types and shadows but at the arrival of the New Testament we see the fulfillment of all types and shadows in Christ. Henceforth, there is no longer an earthly representative apart from the Holy Spirit.

To call someone the Head Steward of The Work or the Lord’s Anointed, when the work refers to God’s work, is to usurp Christ’s place. To set up an alliance to an earthly head steward in the form of Workers in this head steward’s ministry is error. It gives special privileges with special invitations and honors to those singled out as faithful or with the greatest visible allegiance to the head minister in his ministry, where disagreement/descent is not well tolerated. What happens if the Lord moves from using this ministry because of His shifting of His wind? The kingdom shifted from Saul to David, and Jonathan was lost in this shift. His confused allegiance to his father left him in a perilous position.

Jonathan’s heart was won to David at the fall of Goliath. Jonathan was a mighty warrior of God used by God to perform great victories and Jonathan died with his brothers, the sons of Saul, in a battle that included Saul’s pitiful suicide and God’s absence. (John 12:42-43)

Practical Similarities

Surely it would be presumptuous and erroneous to liken all Workers to Jonathan and draw complete similarity between Saul and George, but in some cases dangerous parallels exist. Why do I say this? Simply put some Workers loyalties remind me of Jonathan and some of the failures of Saul remind me of George. Where are these failures and how can this comparison be made? Saul/George was/is a man of huge ego unwilling to humble himself and see true recovery. Oh, sure there were/are private moments in Saul’s/George’s life of humiliation and grief, but there is no confession of true substance and outreach of true reconciliation. But, some say, "This would show a weakness in George that would possibly stumble some of the Lord’s people." If some are stumbled because a sinner needs to repent, their foundation needs to be shaken, for it is sinking sand.

Jonathan/some Workers was/are a man/persons torn between loyalties and unwilling to stand up to his father/George and stand for his beloved David/Christ the true Head.

It is time to make sure that this compromise does not leaven the whole lump. Recently in Joshua 16 we saw that little portion called Gezer. It was in Gezer where the natural inhabitants of the land were allowed to be. This shortsighted convenience cost the children of Israel future generations. I do not believe we have done all we can to eliminate this blight. I believe that there remains to us the process of recovery. It is only by open confession and true repentance that true recovery will occur.

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