Summary: Five Principles for recovering from a spiritual defeat taken from Joshua’s victory over Ai.
A Study of Joshua
Sermon # 7
“Recovering From Defeat”
Joshua 8: 1-29
As we saw last week there is no failure or mistake that cannot be remedied through the grace of God. Even Achor the valley of trouble can be turned into a door of hope. F. W. Robertson, is quoted as making a statement which ties in beautifully with what we’ll be looking at in chapter 8: "Life, like war, is a series of mistakes, and he is not the best Christian nor the best general who make the fewest false steps. Poor mediocrity may secure that; but he is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. Forget mistakes; organize victories out of mistakes." Joshua would have agreed, because in chapter 8 he allows the Lord to organize the victory out of his mistakes and failures. [Frederick William Robertson. source/Notes: Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) http://izquotes.com/quote/262313]
When we have made a mistake and suffered a defeat what we do is now up to us, we can live in that defeat or we can by God’s grace learn from it and go on. Though we should never seek to fail, failure can be a backdoor to success if we are willing to seek the forgiveness of God and deal with our sin in the way that God has prescribed. Five Secrets for Getting Back on Track After A Defeat.
1. To Get Back On Track We Need To Remember That God Never Forsakes His Children No Matter How They Fail Him (v. 1a) “Now the LORD said to Joshua: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed;…”
After we have sinned, the Devil loves to whisper in our ear, “You messed up big time and God can never use you again.” It is at just such a moment in Joshua’s life, following the humiliating defeat, God specifically reminded Joshua of his promise. I am sure that morale in the camp was at an all time low, and I am that Joshua was never more insecure of himself as a leader. It is reassuring to understand that God does not permanently withdraw His blessings when we fail Him.
2. To Get Back On Track We Need To Learn Not to Repeat the Same Mistakes
“ …take all the people of war with you,…” (v. 1b)
God’s word to Joshua was to use all of the fighting men of Israel, in other words this time take the whole army. Though the primary cause of defeat at Ai was Achan’s sin, a contributing factor was underestimating the enemy, overestimating themselves and presuming upon the power of the Lord.
How often do we get in trouble because we make the same mistake twice? To get on track we need to be willing to listen to God and obey fully.
3. To Get Back On Track We May Be Required To Return To The Scene Of An Earlier Defeat (vv. 1c-2)
“… and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. (2) And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it.”
Joshua is told to again go up and attack Ai. He is to return to the place of defeat and now because they were in a right position with the Lord, God promises to turn the place of defeat into a place of victory.
One thing that Israel had come to understand is that they must have God’s power even for taking the smaller city of Ai. With the power of God even Jericho could be taken and without his power even the seemly insignificant Ai could not be taken. How utterly dependent God’s people are on God’s power for any success!
Not only would there be victory in the place of defeat, but here would be additional reward. Unlike at Jericho, the Lord gave the Israelites permission to take the spoils of Ai for themselves. How ironic to realize that had Achan waited and not allowed himself to be guided by greed and selfishness, he would have been able to take all he wanted and needed when they captured Ai.
4. To Get Back On Track We Need To Remember That The Recovery Of Lost Ground Is Always Painful And Costly.
There is no erasing the fact that thirty-six men had lost their lives (7:5) in the humiliating defeat at Ai. But I think that it is neat that God uses the previous defeat as a springboard to victory. Verse three reveals, “So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai; and Joshua chose thirty thousand mighty men of valor and sent them away by night. (4) He commanded them, saying: “Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. (5) Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city; and it will come about, when they come out against us as at the first, that we shall flee before them. (6) For they will come out after us till we have drawn them from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing before us as at the first.’ Therefore we will flee before them. (7) Then you shall rise from the ambush and seize the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. (8) And it will be, when you have taken the city, that you shall set the city on fire. According to the commandment of the LORD you shall do. See, I have commanded you.”