Why was God so harsh in punishment with Achan’s sin (Joshua 7) but completely pardoned Ahab in 2 Kings 21? If God dealt harshly with Achan because of the covenant He made back in Exodus 23:20-22, why would He even make that covenant knowing that it would prevent His mercy later on?
Joshua 7:24 - 26
NKJV - 24 Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day." So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.
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I would say that, in the case of Achan, he only "repented" after his sin (which involved disobeying God's direct, pre-existing command) was revealed through the casting of lots. (The fact that he had buried the items that he had taken in his tent shows that he was fully conscious of his sin, and was trying to conceal it.) Ahab, by contrast, despite his wickedness, was recorded as exhibiting genuine repentance and humility after being rebuked by Elijah (1 Kings 21:27). And, even so, God did not completely overlook Ahab's sin, but said that He would bring disaster on Ahab's house during the reign of Ahab's son Ahaziah (whom the Bible records as being as evil and idolatrous as his father -- but with no repentance for it) instead. Also, since none of us has (or ever have) been deserving in any way of God's mercy because of our universal sin, the prerogative to show that mercy is completely at God's discretion. (As He told Moses in Exodus 33:19 (and as quoted by Paul in Romans 9:15), "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.") (To me, that makes the mercy that He showed in making eternal life possible for anyone through faith in Christ all the more remarkable.)
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