Back when the Israelites were romping across Canaan like Ben Roethlisberger across a piano bar there was this bro-meister in camp named Achan. Remember that rapper, Akon, who got yelled at by FoxNews a couple years back for grinding up on that 14 year-old girl? Yeah, that’s not who I’m talking about. But it might as well be ‘cause there are some weird parallels between rapper Akon and Old Testament Achan. Just replace “freaked on a 14 year-old” with “stole from God” and “yelled at by FoxNews” with “stoned and set on fire” and you’ve pretty much got it.
By the time our story begins, the Israelites had already been out of Egypt for, like, fifty years. They’d spent most of that time in the desert, fighting amongst themselves and walking in circles, until someone finally checked Google maps and said “oh, it’s this way.” They arrived in the Promised Land and got busy throwin ‘bows and bustin noses like Chris Brown after the Grammys. They worked the cities of Canaan over like a snitch in San Quentin and, within a matter of months, had arm wrestled the entire region into submission.
As you might expect, God was fully aware that his people were posterizing and pillaging their way across Palestine. In fact, he had sanctioned the rampage. To him, the Canaanites were no better than a bunch of marbles and his Israelites were some hungry, hungry hippos. There was only one rule: God called dibs on all the shiny stuff. Gold, silver, brass, sequined top hats – if it sparkled, it belonged to God. Everything else was to be treated like a Harry Potter book or Golden Compass DVD and destroyed by ritual fire.
This arrangement worked well for awhile, but then this guy Achan went and ruined everything. Achan was rooting through the rubble of Jericho one afternoon when he spied some shiny stuff under what used to be a Hometown Buffet. This wasn’t your average, run-of-the-mill, salad-fork silver. This was the good stuff. A high school class ring. A Cadillac hood ornament. Even a bedazzled “Don’t Mess With Texas” belt buckle. Achan had found the proverbial mother load, and he should have gone straight to church and put it in the offering plate. But he didn’t. He took it home and hid it under his bed next to the Skoal cans and skin mags.
The next day, Team Israel was scheduled to lay waste to the city of Ai. Joshua knew Ai was weaker than a trombonist in a bar fight so he decided to send out the JV Squad. He figured they’d handle their business, and give the starters a much-needed breather. The Israeli bush leaguers ran up to Ai – all hopped up on manna and 5-hour Energy – and were soundly spanked by the Ai-ians (Ai-ites? Ai-anders? I don’t know.).
Joshua couldn’t believe it. “What happened, God?” he shouted at the Ark of the Covenant. “One minute we’re walking over our enemies like Michael Phelps at a pool party, and the next we’re getting blown out by a scrub squad like Ai?! This is gonna kill our street cred!”
God told him to get up. “Here’s the deal,” He said. “Israel stole some stuff that belongs to me. Until I get it back, you guys are gonna be losing more games than an Ethiopian hockey team.”
“Any way we can make it up to you?” asked Joshua.
“Yeah. Get everyone together tomorrow and tell them I’m pissed. Call the tribes forward one at a time and I’ll tell you who’s got my gear.”
So that’s what Joshua did. He called a mandatory team meeting the next morning and brought the tribes of Israel, one at a time, to the front of the room. It was like a game of hotter/colder. Benjamin…cold. Rueben…cold. Gad…warm. Asher…getting warmer! Zebulan…burning hot! Judah…YES! Once Judah got picked out of the lineup, they went through the same ordeal with the clans and then the families and then the individual men-folk until Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah got ID’d as the perp.
“You just got called out by God, son,” said Joshua. “You wanna tell us what you did or do we need to get out the waterboarding kit?”
“Alright, alright. You got me,” said Achan. “I did it. I was over by the Hometown Buffet and I saw some stuff that I thought would look sweet in my man cave so I kept it.”
Joshua dispatched some guys to Achan’s tent and they came back with the ring, the watch, and the buckle. They also brought the Skoal and the skin mags which Achan thought was a little excessive.
“You done screwed up real bad on this one, bro,” said Joshua. “You lost us that battle against Ai and you got us in trouble with the Big Man upstairs. You got beef with God and now you got beef with us.”
The Israelites took Achan and everything he owned outside the camp and threw rocks at him until they were sure he’d never go klepto on God again. How were they sure? Because he was dead. With Achan neutralized and God’s wrath satisfied, the Israelites set up a rematch with Ai. This time they brought the noise. They plowed through Ai like Tiger Woods through a fire hydrant, and everyone learned a valuable lesson about obedience, and the Israelites never disobeyed God ever again.
Hahaha. Just kidding.