Have you ever read a story in the Bible that bothered you so bad you wanted to scream at God? I sure have. At least before I realized what most Bible lessons were all about. I will never forget reading the story of Achan’s sin in the Old Testament that is presented soon after the Battle of Jericho. I was about fourteen years old and I wasn’t the same afterwards.
In case you are not familiar with the story, let me recap. Achan was a pretty normal guy. He had a wife and kids. He was one of the Children of Israel, and he was part of the Battle of Jericho with Joshua and the rest of the Israelites. After the walls fell, the Israelites went in to loot the place. However, God declared that all these spoils were accursed and not for the children of Israel. In other words, don’t take any of it for yourselves because they were the Lord’s and meant to go into the Lord’s treasury.
Poor Achan. He couldn’t resist. He took a Babylonian garment, 200 shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold and buried them in his tent. I guess he figured he deserved something for his faithfulness, right? The act cost Achan his life, but that’s not even the scary part of the story. The seriousness of this story is found in what happened to Achan’s innocent family. Please read the short excerpt below:
“And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent…And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire…” (Joshua 7:24-25).
Not even the daughters and animals got off on this one. Apparently, God’s wrath is so serious that even the tent had to be burned in order to satisfy his lust for justice, right?
When I read this story as a young teenager, I wanted some kind of justification for such an act from God. This is what I got from a commentary in the King James Key Word Study Bible:
“Since Deuteronomy 24:16 prohibited the execution of children for the sins of their fathers, it is evident that Achan’s children must have condoned or assisted him in what he did.”
Oh really? What about the oxen, donkeys, and sheep? Were they in on Achan’s sin too? I can see it now…the donkeys agreed to dig the hole in the ground while the sheep and oxen stood watch outside the tent. And I seriously doubt the Biblical author of Joshua wanted us to think that all Achan’s sons and daughters took part in this act. So what in the world is going on here? What kind of God would burn innocent children and animals because of one man’s sin? Jesus taught us that God cared about the flowers of the field even. Surely he wouldn’t burn innocent children and animals.
The answer, thank goodness, is that God wouldn’t. So how can we reconcile this Old Testament story?
As a fourteen year-old boy, I couldn’t. In fact, even though I don’t remember doing this, I wouldn’t be surprised if I spent the next week trying to uncover all the naughty things my father had in his possession so my sister and I didn’t go to hell. The story of Achan is scary stuff when it is taught to be literal! And it is Biblical stories like these that give the traditional Christian mindset all kinds of false information and fuel about who and what God is. It’s also information like this that gives pastors and religious leaders the fuel to tell their sheeple that they better do EXACTLY what God says or their going to roast in the afterlife!
That’s why it’s so important to understand that the Bible is NOT literal. And that’s okay. It’s still the greatest book ever compiled in my opinion because it’s the best roadmap to your soul’s journey here on this earth.
All that being said, what is the esoteric truth of this story and how can it help us understand something about ourselves?
First we must realize that Achan was not a literal man. Neither were his wife, children, and animals. But they are in the story for a good reason. If you read the post before this one, then you understand that the Battle of Jericho was about raising you conscious awareness and all the people and objects in the story represent an aspect of us. That’s what’s so great about the Bible stories—they all teach us something about becoming a Christ. Achan’s story does the same.
Let’s get a wider view of this whole event. In the literal representation of the story, Achan wasn’t the only one affected. All of Israel was blamed because Achan’s act defiled the entire camp (conscious mind). The reason Achan’s sin came up in the first place is because shortly after Achan stole the goods, Israel lost a battle against the men of Ai (Amorites). Consider the scripture below when Joshua is begging God for an answer on why they lost the battle to the enemy:
“Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies…” (Joshua 7:11-12).
Did you notice how God blamed Achan’s sin on all of Israel? Almost as if by magic or some negative energy, the simple fact of having the accursed goods in Achan’s tent (all of Israel’s possession) caused Israel to be affected negatively. Why?
The Israelites aren’t literal people either. They represent the journey of all of us here in the physical plane. Collectively, the Israelites represent our consciousness and souls.
And the enemies of the Israelites represent egoistic thoughts of the mind that we must crucify in order to get to the Promised Land (enlightenment / Christ consciousness). That’s why God could tell his people to slay even the innocent children and babies. They all represent thoughts of the lower nature which, if go unchecked, can infect the rest of your mind, soul, and spiritual journey. So when Joshua’s men lost the battle to the men of Ai, we know that this represents the mind was having some ego problems keeping them from being successful on the road to enlightenment.
Now consider Achan again. Achan is also an aspect of the egoistic mind, and so are all his children and possessions. Even though the walls had already been brought down in the Battle of Jericho, complete bliss in the Promised Land was not yet achieved. Why? Because the Promised Land is not a place of clouds, angels, and nothing but happiness. Enlightenment is not a permanent state of being where you are immune to everything and anything. It is a realization, and you must choose to become that realization from moment to moment.
Achan represents that part of our ego which is dangerous and strong enough to bring our raised consciousness crashing down. And just like Achan’s sin affected the entire Israelite camp, so can our egos affect our entire spiritual, physical, and emotional makeup.
So why didn’t Achan have a chance to repent? The author would like us to understand that the entire community of the Israelites (all the collective thoughts of the mind) must remain pure and holy (recognition and dissolution of the ego) in order for God (Christ consciousness) to manifest in us. An Achan type of mindset will sacrifice your access to God and Christ consciousness. Achan and anything that was associated with him (thoughts stemming from ego) had to be sacrificed to cleanse the Israelite camp (spiritual mind).
How Can This Knowledge Help You?
Please understand that the ego is not sinful in and of itself. But what is sinful (missing the mark / ignorant) is when humanity doesn’t have the conscious ability or power to recognize the ego. We must realize the ego for what it is. It certainly isn’t the eternal Christ nature within you. The ego is subject to death, for the ego is created and maintained by your thoughts. God is beyond thought. Realizing the Christ nature within you is beyond thought. You can’t suddenly say a prayer, make a mental note of repentance from a sin, and then expect to have been saved. Salvation is a state of BEING in the Promised Land (Present awareness). If the ego is in the driver’s seat of your soul’s journey, you are going to wander in the wilderness for 40 years (40 being a symbol of an entire lifespan) and then die without having attained salvation and you’ll be reincarnated because your consciousness makeup is still gravitated towards ego (physical / carnal ) living. Learn to BE in the moment, fully giving yourself to the situation at hand. Try it. It’s truly liberating! And all the while this type of meditation is raising your awareness.