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Scripture reading – Joshua 8

This devotional focuses on Joshua 8, the second chapter of today’s assigned Scripture reading, Joshua 7-8.

God Encouraged Joshua to Go to War (8:1-2)

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. One man’s sin had been addressed, and Israel had corporately passed judgment, putting the evil out of their midst (7:25-26). And so, the LORD came to Joshua and commanded him, “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).

Israel’s quick 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).

The Strategy for Warring with Ai and Bethel (8:2-13)

Unlike the presumption evidenced in the siege of Ai (7:2-4), Joshua received not only his orders to go to war against Ai but also the strategy for the battle (8:2-13). Moreover, unlike the siege of Jericho, which lasted seven days and was conducted in silence until the city walls fell, the attack on Ai employed an entirely different scheme.

Dividing the army into two companies, Israel laid in ambush and drew out the king of Ai, emboldened by his first victory (8:3-8). Then, 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).

The Battle and the Victory (8:14-22)

Arrogantly presuming he would send the warriors of Israel scurrying as before, the king of Ai took all of the city’s men to pursue Joshua (8:14), 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” (8:29). As the sun was setting, Joshua commanded that the king’s body be placed in the gate of Ai with stones heaped upon it.

A Renewed Commitment (8:30-35)

The battle having been won, “Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal.” Then, as the law prescribed (8:30), 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 [was] written in the book of the law” (8:34).

Joshua 8 concludes with a reminder that every word of the LORD is sacred: “There 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).

Closing thoughts:

Some reading this devotion bears the guilt of sin yet to be exposed. I implore you; don’t hide your sin and wait for it to be discovered. The LORD is patient and longsuffering. Nevertheless, the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Why conceal sin, when in the words of the apostle John, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” is available to all who heed (1 John 1:9)?

Finally, don’t ignore the obvious application of today’s Scripture! We have seen that 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 to us all:

Be sure your sin will find you out!

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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