Scripture reading – Joshua 8
With the sin of Achan, and his family purged from Israel, the nation was ready to continue its conquest of Canaan. There was no time to look back, or wallow in regret. The sin of one man had been addressed, the nation had corporately passed judgment, and put the sin out of their midst (7:25-26). And so, the LORD came to Joshua, and commanded, “Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land”(8:1).
Let us pause, and ponder an important spiritual lesson from this event. Like many sinners, Achan only confessed his sin, when it was discovered. He had opportunity to repent, come forward, and confess his sin after Israel was defeated at Ai, and thirty-six of his countrymen had perished (7:5). Instead, his heart was hardened, and his confession offered only after his sin was exposed. Such sin could not be tolerated by God’s people, and the LORD bless them. The LORD had warned Joshua, “neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you” (7:12).
Israel’s prompt judgment of the sin in their midst, moved the LORD to forgive, and restore the people to His favor (8:1). Indeed, the LORD promised to go to war with Israel, and to give them the spoils of Ai (8:2).
Personal application: Some reading this devotional, bear the guilt of a sin that is yet to be exposed. I encourage you; don’t hide your sin, and wait for it to be discovered. The LORD is patient, and longsuffering, but the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The apostle John admonished believers, “8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
The Battle of Ai, and Bethel (8:2-29)
Unlike the presumption that was evidenced in the first battle of Ai (7:2-4), Joshua received not only his orders to go to battle against Ai, but also the strategy for the fight (8:2-13). Unlike the siege of Jericho that lasted seven days, and was conducted in silence until the walls of the city fell down; the attack on Ai employed an entirely different scheme.
Dividing the army into two companies, Israel was to lie in ambush, and draw out the king of Ai who was emboldened by his first victory (8:3-8). With thirty thousand men sent out into the night before him, Joshua “lodged that night among the people” (8:9). True to his character, the next day, “Joshua rose up early in the morning” (8:10), and lured both the men of Bethel (a city some two miles from Ai), and the king of Ai out of the city (8:12-13).
Arrogantly presuming he would send the warriors of Israel scurrying as before, the king of Ai took all of the men of the city to pursue Joshua (8:14), and leaving the city vulnerable. Ai’s king realized, too late, that he had been drawn into the midst of Israel’s armies. The king beheld “the smoke of the city…[and he and his army] had no power to flee this way or that way” (8:20). All was lost, and Israel turned “and slew the men of Ai” (8:21).
Like Moses before him (Exodus 17:8-16), Joshua held his spear aloft during the battle, and Israel warred until the king of Ai was captured, and twelve thousand men of the city slain, along with “all the inhabitants of Ai” (8:22-26). The cattle, and spoils of Ai were Israel’s, and the city was burned (8:27-28). The king of Ai was “hanged on a tree until eventide,” and as the sun was setting, Joshua commanded his body be placed in the gate of Ai, and stones heaped upon it (8:29).
A New Commitment (8:30-35)
The battle being won, “Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal,” as the law prescribed (8:30), and then he offered sacrifices (8:31). Upon the stones of the altar, Joshua inscribed “a copy of the law of Moses” (8:32), and he read aloud “all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law” (8:34).
Joshua 8 concludes with a reminder that every word of the LORD is sacred: “35There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them” (8:35).
Don’t allow the obvious application of today’s Scripture to be lost! The consequences of one man’s sin, can prove disastrous for a family, church, and nation. Let the stoning of Achan, and his family serve as a warning: Be sure your sin will find you out!
Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith