Lessons From Joshua, Part 8
The Problems at Ai, Part A
It was the aftermath of the miraculous victory over
Jericho. The people and their leaders were feeling pretty good about
themselves. In fact, the last verse in Joshua 6, the chapter that speaks of
the fall of Jericho, states this: "So the LORD was with Joshua, and his
fame spread throughout the land." (Josh 6:27)
Yes, they were feeling pretty indestructible. So indestructible that when
Joshua told them to go and spy out the region of Ai: "Now Joshua sent men
from Jericho to Ai
" (Josh 7:2 NIV), they came back with the following
report: "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." (Josh 7:3 NIV)
And so that's when happened: "
about three thousand men went up
It is important to notice two things here: First of all, God never told them
to go to Ai. The Bible says, "Now Joshua sent men
Secondly, God never told them to only send 3000 men! This was the idea of
the spies: "
Send two or three thousand men to take it
The quest was a disaster. The Bible records: "
but they were routed by
the men of Ai, 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." (Josh 7:5 NIV)
So what really happened here?
First and foremost, the people were prideful after the fall of Jericho, so
prideful that they didn't bother to ask God about Ai. They went up against
the city without God's direction and without His permission. As a result,
they were defeated, the entire camp went into turmoil, and moral hit rock
Friends, just like Israel's quest was to conquer and possess the Promised
Land, our quest is to conquer temptation and addictions, so that we, too,
can enter into our eternal rest. But just as Israel failed at Ai, we, too,
are destined to fail unless we learn some important lessons from the
Disaster at Ai.
The first lesson we can learn from the problems at Ai is to not become
prideful and cocky in the wake of a victory. We have to continually remind
ourselves that we did not win the battle, God did! "'Not by might nor by
power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty." (Zech 4:6 NIV)
A few years ago, a friend of mine struggled to quit smoking. Only with God's
help did he finally conquer the addiction. Sometime later, while out with a
bunch of friends who were smoking cigars, he was tempted to join in. After
all, he had conquered smoking. One little puff on a cigar wouldn't hurt him!
I'm sad to say that this friend was drawn right back into smoking, and the
last time I talked with him, he still hadn't been able to quit. When we rely
on our own power, we are destined to fail!
The second lesson to be learned from the problems at Ai is to always seek
God's help, and to resist the urge to follow our own will. God is all
knowing, He is all powerful. When He tells us how and when to go forth and
conquer, then we know that we will be successful. But if we go forward on
the advice of man, things can and will end up with non-optimum outcomes.
Take witnessing, for example. Let's say you've been praying for someone for
some time, and it appears that the time is ripe to speak to them, to urge
them to accept Jesus into their hearts. Is it a good thing? Yes. Is the time
right? Only God knows, and remember: He holds time in His hands! "He has
made everything beautiful in its time." (Eccl 3:11 NIV)
And what about our "plan of attack" in witnessing to our friend? Do we
challenge them upfront? Or do we wait until they bring it up?
Remember the problems at Ai? Israel sent out 3000 men, because that was what
seemed right to them. Always remember: "There is a way that seems right
to a man, but in the end it leads to death." (Prov 14:12 NIV)
So what is the best plan of action? We need to ask God what we should do! If
we do, and if we follow His advice, we can rest assured that the right words
are said at the right time!
In summary then, the first 3 lessons that can be learned from the problems
at Ai are to remember to give God the credit for our victory and resist the
urge to be prideful, and to always seek God's advice, His timing, and His
But there are still lessons to be learned from the Ai disaster. Join us next
week for The Problems at Ai, Part B.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language
Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a
tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to
Christian devotionals and inspirational poems,
with Answers2Prayer Ministries,