The Israelites just had a victory over Jericho — with God’s help! They couldn’t have done it without Him. However, one person disobeyed God’s command. Since this battle belonged to the Lord, so did the spoils. It only took one person’s greed and lust of the eyes, to ruin it for everybody, including 36 who lost their lives.
The next group of people they encounter are the pagans of Ai (not artificial intelligence). The scouts Joshua sent to scope out the city came back a little cocky and that, too, cost them. They thought, piece of cake! We can take them with only a few people. Unfortunately, they didn’t ask God about it. Even after God told Joshua that He would drive everyone out and that He would make sure they had full reign in the Promised Land, they didn’t put God first. Let’s dig in….
Joshua 7 – Ai Defeats the Israelites
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.
2 Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. 3 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.”
4 So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai 5 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.
6 Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening. 7 Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! 8 Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? 9 For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?”
10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. 12 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.
13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.
14 “In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the Lord will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the Lord will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the Lord will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one. 15 The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the Lord and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”
Points to Ponder
- This defeat was a slap in the face for Israel. God’s good at that. Whenever we get too cocky and full of ourselves, He manages somehow to knock us off our high horses.
- There was hidden sin. God sees everything we do — everything! He knew who had sinned.
- Purposefully, He made them go through the process of elimination to show that even one person’s sin has consequences for everyone.
12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.Romans 5:12 NLT
He also wrote…
16 Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Judah was singled out. 17 Then the clans of Judah came forward, and the clan of Zerah was singled out. Then the families of Zerah came forward, and the family of Zimri was singled out. 18 Every member of Zimri’s family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out.
19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.”
20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. 21 Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.”
22 So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achan had said, with the silver buried beneath the rest. 23 They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the Lord.
24 Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. 25 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.” And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. 26 They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.Joshua 7 NLT
Joshua 8 – Israel defeats Ai
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land. 2 You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its king. But this time you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the town.”
3 So Joshua and all the fighting men set out to attack Ai. Joshua chose 30,000 of his best warriors and sent them out at night 4 with these orders: “Hide in ambush close behind the town and be ready for action. 5 When our main army attacks, the men of Ai will come out to fight as they did before, and we will run away from them. 6 We will let them chase us until we have drawn them away from the town. For they will say, ‘The Israelites are running away from us as they did before.’ Then, while we are running from them, 7 you will jump up from your ambush and take possession of the town, for the Lord your God will give it to you. 8 Set the town on fire, as the Lord has commanded. You have your orders.”
9 So they left and went to the place of ambush between Bethel and the west side of Ai. But Joshua remained among the people in the camp that night. 10 Early the next morning Joshua roused his men and started toward Ai, accompanied by the elders of Israel. 11 All the fighting men who were with Joshua marched in front of the town and camped on the north side of Ai, with a valley between them and the town. 12 That night Joshua sent about 5,000 men to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the town. 13 So they stationed the main army north of the town and the ambush west of the town. Joshua himself spent that night in the valley.
14 When the king of Ai saw the Israelites across the valley, he and all his army hurried out early in the morning and attacked the Israelites at a place overlooking the Jordan Valley. But he didn’t realize there was an ambush behind the town. 15 Joshua and the Israelite army fled toward the wilderness as though they were badly beaten. 16 Then all the men in the town were called out to chase after them. In this way, they were lured away from the town. 17 There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not chase after the Israelites, and the town was left wide open.
18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Point the spear in your hand toward Ai, for I will hand the town over to you.” Joshua did as he was commanded. 19 As soon as Joshua gave this signal, all the men in ambush jumped up from their position and poured into the town. They quickly captured it and set it on fire.
20 When the men of Ai looked behind them, smoke from the town was filling the sky, and they had nowhere to go. For the Israelites who had fled in the direction of the wilderness now turned on their pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all the other Israelites saw that the ambush had succeeded and that smoke was rising from the town, they turned and attacked the men of Ai. 22 Meanwhile, the Israelites who were inside the town came out and attacked the enemy from the rear. So the men of Ai were caught in the middle, with Israelite fighters on both sides. Israel attacked them, and not a single person survived or escaped. 23 Only the king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua.
24 When the Israelite army finished chasing and killing all the men of Ai in the open fields, they went back and finished off everyone inside. 25 So the entire population of Ai, including men and women, was wiped out that day—12,000 in all. 26 For Joshua kept holding out his spear until everyone who had lived in Ai was completely destroyed. 27 Only the livestock and the treasures of the town were not destroyed, for the Israelites kept these as plunder for themselves, as the Lord had commanded Joshua. 28 So Joshua burned the town of Ai (Ai means “ruin”), and it became a permanent mound of ruins, desolate to this very day.
29 Joshua impaled the king of Ai on a sharpened pole and left him there until evening. At sunset the Israelites took down the body, as Joshua commanded, and threw it in front of the town gate. They piled a great heap of stones over him that can still be seen today.Joshua 8 NLT
The Lord’s Covenant Renewed
30 Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal. 31 He followed the commands that Moses the Lord’s servant had written in the Book of Instruction: “Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools.” Then on the altar they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. 32 And as the Israelites watched, Joshua copied onto the stones of the altar the instructions Moses had given them.
33 Then all the Israelites—foreigners and native-born alike—along with the elders, officers, and judges, were divided into two groups. One group stood in front of Mount Gerizim, the other in front of Mount Ebal. Each group faced the other, and between them stood the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. This was all done according to the commands that Moses, the servant of the Lord, had previously given for blessing the people of Israel.
34 Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction. 35 Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them.
Rewarded with the Spoils
Amazing what a different outcome they had when they followed God’s instructions! They not only defeated the pagans of Ai, but the people got to keep the spoils! That’s victory via obedience.
That’s all God wants from us — obedience. We are NEVER to play with sin. As Paul wrote, the end result of sin is death.
Notice how in the end, they celebrate by honoring God and reading scripture. Joshua and the priests had to read it to them. Back then, there were no printing presses or Bible apps. Today, we do not have any excuses for getting into the Word of God.
Where’s the Gospel?
Here’s a portion from the study from Spoken Gospel…
When Achan was judged for his disobedience, all Israel was blessed with victory.
In the New Testament, Paul tells us this isn’t just true for Israel, but for all creation. Because of Adam and Eve’s one sin, all of creation is cursed (Romans 5:12).
Just as Eve took the beautiful fruit and Achan took the beautiful treasure, we also prefer to take what we think of as beautiful or good—even when God commands us not to. Like Achan and Eve, we devote ourselves and those around us to destruction.
But Paul goes on to say that while this is true, the opposite is true of Jesus on the cross (Romans 5:15). Jesus did not take the “beautiful or the “easy” path; he did what God said despite the cost (Matthew 26:39). Jesus obeyed even when it meant taking responsibility for our sin and being devoted to our deserved destruction (Romans 5:19).
Even more powerfully than Achan’s sin threatened Israel, Jesus’ perfection saves us all. While Achan’s disobedience caused death and a curse, Jesus’ obedience brings about blessing and life (Romans 5:21).
When we trust that Jesus was destroyed for our Achan-like tendencies, we can confidently rise up and expect Israel-like victory. The Garden of Eden—God’s Kingdom—will come. It will destroy our sin and like Israel hoped we will live with God forever.“Jesus in all of Joshua” by Spoken Gospel
Here’s the video with the whole lesson….
Victory Through Jesus
We become overcommers when we surrender our lives to Jesus because He overcame sin and death. We, as sinners, deserve the sentence of death, just like Achan. Consequently, Jesus took ALL of our sin and died IN OUR PLACE. He took our sentence and died instead of us! In doing so, He removed the stain of sin forever from our lives!
We look around the world and see wars and disaster after disaster. The latest one that’s gripped everyone’s attention is the collapse of the beachfront condo in Surfside, Florida. I lived for many years right across the bay from there. I went to that beach. I feel the pain of the family members waiting for news, hoping that their loved ones, are still breathing under all the rubble.
This is a powerful Christian testimony from one of the family members…
This tragedy happened a 1:15 am. Imagine you’re sleeping peacefully and all of a sudden the building you live in disintegrates with you in it. Your chances of survival are slim. They only pulled one boy alive from the rubble early on. His mom, however, didn’t make it. As of this writing, there are 130 residents accounted for, 9 dead and 152 still missing.
Friend, we are not guaranteed tomorrow. We’re not even guaranteed the next hour! You can’t afford to take any chances.
It’s Time to Get Right With God!
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven and that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…
Where Were You
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)