Summary: Sometimes everything doesn’t go exactly right. This sermon speaks to victories and defeat.
JOSHUA 5:1 Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the LORD had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.
Joshua had just been handed the reigns from Moses. He had led the Israelites over the river Jordan (which had parted like the Red Sea) and into the promised land. The people of that land had heard about the God of Israel and were greatly frightened. The text tells us that their hearts "melted" and they no loonger had the courage to face them. Joshua was about to face his first battle as commander....at Jericho! Let’s skip down to vs 13...
13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" 14 "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?" 15 The commander of the LORD’s army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
He was literally standing on holy ground! God was preparing him for battle! Did you know that God will always prepare you before He tests you? Joshua asked the angel "are you for us or a’gin us?"....or something like that.....but when he realized that he was in the presence of the "commander of the army of the LORD’ or KJV says "captain of the host of the LORD am I now come"...this wasn’t the arch-angel Michael it was Jesus Himself! It is interesting to note here that, unlike Moses, Joshua had not been personally face-to-face with God....until now.
By the way, don’t you like that part where He says....."I have now come"...WOW! That’s what you want to hear whenever you are about to do battle! So Joshua submitted to the Lord and worshipped Him. I imagine He and the Lord had themselves a good visit, don’t you? You can’t begin a difficult task without a visit from the Lord....remember that!
You know the story in Chapter 6....Joshua fit de battle of Jericho..and the walls came tumbling down! Joshua followed the Lord’s instruction perfectly and conquered the city. Verse 27 tells us "the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land." But then something happened. Let’s look quickly at vs 17 "The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.
The "devoted thing" was everything in the city...it was already devoted to God...nothing was to be taken out of that city! It was customary in those days to collect the "spoils of war" whenever you defeated you enemy...but this time God said NO! Listen, don’t ever try to take what belongs to God.....let’s see what happens!
Chapter 7:1 But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted (banned) things ; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel. 2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, "Go up and spy out the region." So the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, "Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there."
Listen, Joshua was feeling pretty good about himself. Here he was...famous throughout the land...commanding an unbeatable army....you might say he became a little overconfident. It is easy to feel that way in the sftermath of a big victory. Relaxed, confident...that is a moment that is prime time for sin to enter our lives! Let’s read on.....
4 So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water. 6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening...........