Joshua 8

Joshua 8 has a very different tone.  The people of God had just experienced defeat, and gone through the process of identifying the reason – one of their men had kept plunder from the last victory for himself – and they cleaned that sin out of their presence.  Now God tells Joshua it is time to go to battle again with the same enemy.  God says “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai”. Seems pretty simple, but Joshua had to be wondering what the outcome would be.

But nonetheless, “Joshua chose 30,000 mighty men of valor and sent them out by night” with a plan that they “rise up from the ambush and seize the city” as the rest of the warriors drew the enemy army away.  The plan was for Joshua to take men and draw the enemy out.  They would run like they were fearful, and then the ambush would move in and burn the city and take it.  So how did Joshua prepare for battle this second time?  He wasn’t in the comfort of his tent.  “Joshua spent that night among the people”.  He was in their midst assuring them that God was in control and had a plan.

Then Joshua put his plan in motion.  “Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness”.   They high tailed it off toward the wilderness and the men of Ai came out after them.  “Then the Lord said to Joshua, Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.”  So he did, and “when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai”.  The plan worked as designed.  “There was left none that survived or escaped….Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins”.  The victory was theirs this time.

So what was different?  Obedience.  The army was the same.  The enemy was the same.  The difference was that this time Joshua led the people in a way they were absolutely obedient to every detail God commanded them.  And after they won, Joshua was with the people reminding them of God’s presence. They built an altar and sacrificed.  He wrote the 10 commandments again on stone.  And then, Joshua read God’s law to all the people.  “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly”.  He made sure they knew how and why they were victorious – not because of him – but because of God and His faithfulness.

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