Todays passage is what is know as the second battle of Ai. The first battle wasn’t much a of a battle…This time the nation of Israel is victorious, first and foremost because they are once again rightly related to Yahweh, having dealt with the disobedience of Achen.
This battle is won by God inspired leadership, God given creativity in the planning and then God fearing obedience by all of the troops in Joshua’s Army. There is no great miracle; no stopping a river or turning city walls to rubble, just excellent military planning and execution.
We see how when God’s people are untied under Him as a forgiven community of leaders and servants there is no stopping them. God is forging HIS nation through adversity and experience so they can glorify HIM. There are also lessons for us, principals that can guide us as the Body of Christ.
Two weeks ago, the end of chapter seven:
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.” 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.
- Beginning with Adam & Eve, sin must be paid for with a sacrifice
- When the sacrifice is as God has prescribed, the guilt is forgiven
- God is satisfied, the price was paid
1 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. 2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.”
- Now that the price has been paid for the sin God says: ‘Forget about it!…I have’
- Yahweh declares He will still go before the Israelites and take the city of Ai
- Valuable items & animals can be taken (God sets the terms for devotion)
- God provides the genesis of a plan…back side ambush
- God gives Joshua the outline, and because he is connected, creativity as well
3 So Joshua and all the fighting men arose to go up to Ai. Joshua chose 30,000 mighty men of valor and sent them out by night. 4 He commanded them, “Behold you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you remain ready.
- Sends out the ambush force (30,000) by night to their hiding place
- They are to be as close as they can without being seen and ready to go
- As it turns out there is a perfect place for them to hide…
5 I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When they come out against us just as before, we shall flee before them. 6 They will come out after us, until we have drawn them away from the city. For they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us, just as before.’ So we will flee before them. 7 Then you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God will give it into your hand. 8 And as soon as you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire. You shall do according to the word of the Lord. See, I have commanded you.”
- Joshua’s army will do just what they did before…but this time not from fear
- They are counting on the enemy to be overconfident, to overplay his hand…
- Joshua is commanding with the authority of Yahweh
9 So Joshua sent them out, and they went to the place of ambush and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai, but Joshua spent that night among the people. 10 Joshua arose early in the morning and mustered the people and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. 11 All the fighting men who were with him went up and drew near before the city and encamped on the north side of Ai, with a ravine between them and Ai. (1)
- The ambush group of 30,000 got situated overnight going around behind Ai
- Joshua’s other force (30,000?) camps where they can be seen at sunrise
12 He took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13 So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city. But Joshua spent that night in the valley. (1)
- He put 5000 men as northwestern ambush between Bethel & Ai (done at night)
- Between Bethel and Ai…This was land with some history (It’s all connected)
- Genesis 12:8 & 13:3-4 Twice Abram makes an altar to the Lord there
14 As soon as the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the men of the city, hurried and went out early to the appointed place toward the Arabah to meet Israel in battle. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. (1)
- At 1st light King sees Joshua’s army across the ravine and goes to meet him
- He certainly leaves a force in the city as back up (City Guard)
- He wants to meet the Israelite army on the plain at the mouth of the valley
- He thought this was the whole Israelite army…
15 Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness. 16 So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua they were drawn away from the city. 17 Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city open and pursued Israel. (1&2)
- They fled a easterly direction back along the valley
- The army of Ai is seen chasing Joshua’s army from the walls of both cities
- The ‘City Guard’ of Ai & the fighting men of Bethel leave their cities to chase
- The 5000 men west of Bethel let everyone go to chase before they follow
18 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.” And Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. 19 And the men in the ambush rose quickly out of their place, and as soon as he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it. And they hurried to set the city on fire. (2&3)
- Joshua gives the ‘Anointed Signal’ doing exactly what God says (no questions)
- Somehow the 30,000 men waiting behind Ai could see the signal and moved
- In short order they set Ai to burning, the city guard all left. No resistance
20 So when the men of Ai looked back, behold, the smoke of the city went up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. 21 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. (3&4)
- Joshua’s men had stopped retreating
- All the fighting men from Ai & Bethel were between Ai and the Israelite Army
- Everyone sees the smoke coming from Ai
- One army knows it’s city and families are being consumed, they give up
- One army knows their God is running things, they become supremely confident
22 The other Israelites came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. And Israel struck them down, until there was left none that survived or escaped. 23 But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him near to Joshua. (3&4)
- They had them trapped from all sides
- Destruction was total, except the King
24 When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. 25 All who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai.
- All of the fighters they killed in the open ground (7-8K at most)
26 But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction.27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their plunder, according to the word of the Lord that he commanded Joshua.
- Joshua held out the Javelin for the battle AND the devotion of the city
- He made sure he did it as long as God wanted him to do it: Complete Devotion
28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. 29 He hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening. At sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day.
- City of Ai was rebuilt at a site nearby (Neh. 7:32) Sister city of Bethel
- The hanging on a tree was probably impaling
- Scripture gave a process
If a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. ~ Deuteronomy 21:22–23
God teaches His people that once sin is addressed and God has extended grace, the relationship is repaired: HIS forgiveness is perfect so HIS people can be encouraged and brave not overshadowed by their sin!
God uses HIS leaders to plan and execute HIS projects. They seek His guidance, command with HIS authority and succeed by HIS power…even when it is not done with miracles. We are called to do our best in His service!
God puts HIS leaders in a position to be seen and given attention. HIS ‘Christ-Type’ leaders are obedient and complete their assignments. In this story Joshua is an extension of God’s leadership of HIS people.
What is the Biblical basis by which your sin is forgiven, and once it is forgiven how does God view it? How do you view it?
As Christ’s Body, what can we do to promote Visionary Leadership and Faithful Servanthood as we see in this passage?
What roles of Leadership and/or servanthood do you see yourself growing into here @ Midtown Church?
VISION & PRACTICE:
As ‘Biblically Forgiven People’, our relationship with God through Jesus Christ enables us to live with courage and purpose doing everything ‘As unto The Lord’. (Col. 3:23)