Summary: Message 10 in our journey with Joshua into the Promised Land. This message deals with the aftermath of Jericho and the defeat by Ai.
Joshua Series #10
The Amazing Race to Rest & Reward
The book of Joshua is all about the fulfillment or realization of a promise made to Abraham hundreds of years previous. The journey up to this point in time is the subject of the first five books of the Old Testament. Joshua documents the entry of the promised seed into the land promised land to experience the promised blessing.
I. Purge the Land 1-12
A. God Prepared Joshua for leadership 1 He learned to listen, trust and obey
B. Joshua prepared the people to possess the land 2 He urged them to listen, trust and obey
C. Israel Purged the Canaanites 2-11
1. Central Campaign
a. Israel defeated Jericho 6
Satan’s fortresses, no matter how formidable, fall
when we hear, trust and obey the captain of the Lord’s army.
Process to Ponder when facing opposition
1. Humbly submit to the Captain of the Lord’s army.
2. Wait for instructions from the Captain.
3. Hear the Captain’s instructions.
4. Trust the Captain’s instructions.
5. Obey the Captain’s instructions.
6. Work together
7. Engage the enemy.
8. Dedicate any spoils to God.
b. Ai defeated Israel 7
The chapter begins by revealing the reason for the failure at Ai. The word “but” triggers a contrast. After the fall of the mighty walled city of Jericho the historian writes…
So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land. Joshua 6:27
The next chapter starts with…
But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the LORD. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the LORD was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah. Joshua 7:1
Joshua’s fame quickly turns to shame because one person failed to obey God’s instructions fully. They people followed everything to the letter except the instructions concerning the stuff. This reason is repeated three more times in the passage. It seems that stuff always seems to derail our walk with God. First let’s look at the narrative and them come back to make some observations and draw out some related principles to apply to today.
I have identified eight movements in this narrative.
1. The Rencon Report 7:2-3
Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.” Joshua
The spies operated on some false assumptions. Spiritual victory does not depend on sheer numbers. Yesterday’s victory does not guarantee tomorrows victory. We should never underestimate the power of the enemy. We should never overestimate the power of the flesh.
We should never go into Battle without the permission of God and the power of God. Paul told the Ephesians to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Basically be sure you are connected and empowered.
2. The Battle Report 7:4-5
So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.
From a logistics point of view, 3,000 should have been sufficient to do the job but because of sin, not only had to fight the people of Ai but God. The battle is over in two verses.
• They ended up getting routed by Ai.
• They lost 36 men.
• They lost heart.
The writer employs the same word used regarding the Canaanites in chapter 2 and 5 to describe the emotional state of the Israelites after their defeat. They were demoralized and disheartened. There is a stark contrast in details with other battles. The contrast revolves around what we don’t find.
• No mention of Joshua’s involvement or leadership
• No mention of God’s instruction
• No mention of God’s typical confirmation “I have given them into your hands.”
• No mention of prayer
• No mention of the Ark
They were operating on their own power. They were functioning under the impression that their victory over Jericho guaranteed their victory over the less formidable foe; Ai. They figured if they conquered Jericho, Ai would be a piece of cake. God could take a rest. They were self-confident rather than God confident. They went from self-confident to no confidence in themselves OR God.