Summary: Joshua #6


Joshua 7

I want us to go on an imaginary expedition together... an archeological expedition. You ready? We are in a God-forsaken valley. The sun is beating down on us. There’s nowhere to hide. We are looking for some lost bones, hidden cities and broken pots of civilizations of previous centuries. We are in the Middle East. Not far from the ancient city of Ai. There’s a good chance we will run into a tell (that’s a fancy name archeologist’s use for a mound of dirt).

One of us calls us over with a loud yell. Together we investigate what we have found. A strange sight! We find later as we carefully investigate the site that we come across a huge pile of rocks. And it looks like the rocks are covering up something that had burned. We don’t dare disturb the rocks because it looks like it has some sort of important message to convey. But what do these rocks mean? This is so strange! What happened here?

This valley we’re in is known as the valley of Achor which literally means "trouble." Maybe these stones spelled trouble for someone. Is this huge pile of rocks related to the bones we discovered recently? We determined that they were the bones of 36 Israelite soldiers who were killed in battle...the battle of Ai, the battle after the battle of Jericho.

We all remember the battle of Jericho don’t we? The people of Israel showed victorious faith in trusting God, being obedient to His word. Result? The walls came a tumblin’ down and Israel conquered the whole city.

Now, the city of Ai was just a two-bit cow town just a few miles west of Jericho. (Murphy---Boise?) This would be no problem for the people of Israel (so they thought!). Instead, they were routed in an unexpected turn of events. And like a whipped puppy with its tail between its legs, the Israelites retreated.

Why this defeat? And why this defeat right on the heels of such a tremendous victory in Jericho?

Well, have you experienced a victory recently in your Christian life? Maybe you’ve been able to conquer a controlling habit. Maybe you’ve been able to see God work in your life by being able to control your tongue when someone criticized you. Maybe you’ve been able to conquer worry by giving that thing you’ve been worrying about over to the Lord. What a blessing! What joy! What contentment!

What peace! What rest!

But... get ready! Get ready for a pitfall ahead. Get ready for a roadblock. Satan will do all he can to see you fall.

The Israelites fell, they faced defeat. And if we can learn why they were defeated at Ai, we can learn something of how Satan operates and learn to be on guard against his strategy when we experience victory and are set up for a defeat.

Please turn in your Bibles to Joshua 7...


There are 2 basic reasons for this shocking defeat:

Secondary reason: OVERCONFIDENCE IN SELF (vv. 2-3)

There’s no reliance on God here. "This is a snap!" (cp. 2:24)

They were overconfident...confident in themselves.

Isn’t interesting to see the varied attacks of Satan?

40 yrs ago the Israelites overestimated the enemy. Here, they underestimated the enemy. Either way=failure and defeat.

Lesson for us: don’t overestimate or underestimate Satan and his power.

Another important lesson for us: Where’s your confidence?

Is it in yourself or in God? Don’t get me wrong, confidence is not bad. But misdirected confidence is.

Misdirected confidence=defeat. Every time.

So, the secondary reason for their defeat=

overconfidence in self.

But, PRIMARY REASON for their defeat=

UNCONFESSED SIN (7:1 cp. 6:18)

Israel suffered a shocking defeat because of one man’s sin. What was his sin? Look ahead to vv. 20-21. Notice the 3 crucial steps in Achan’s sin:

1) He saw

2) He coveted

3) He took

And that’s been the tragic steps to sin from the beginning. Look with me in Genesis 3:6 to see these very same steps. The steps are repeated in David’s sin with Bathsheba. Let’s look at that in 2 Samuel 11:2-4.

And so it was with Achan. He saw, he coveted, and then he took.

I want you to notice something else in verse 1. Notice it says, "But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things..." Boy, if I was one of the Israelites, I would have thought, "That’s unfair!" But, whether we like it or not, God has instituted solidarity in His people. We are one unit!

There is a principle of shared guilt.

1 Corinthians 12:26:

"When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers with it."

ILLUS: Pour cold water into hot water & temp of water will lower. Similar to if you put hot water in cold water, the temp will rise. What we do as individuals affects the whole body. Either you are a help or a burden. Which are you?

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