(please read the rest of Joshua 7 on your own)
1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the devoted things; for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. Therefore Yahweh’s anger burned against the children of Israel. 2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, “Go up and spy out the land.” The men went up and spied out Ai. 3 They returned to Joshua, and said to him, “Don’t let all the people go up but let about two or three thousand men go up and strike Ai. Don’t make all the people to toil there, for there are only a few of them.” 4 So about three thousand men of the people went up there, and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 The men of Ai struck about thirty-six men of them. They chased them from before the gate even to Shebarim, and struck them at the descent. The hearts of the people melted, and became like water. 6 Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before Yahweh’s ark until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.Joshua 7:1-6
After the successful military campaign of Jericho, the Israelites came to the city of Ai. Compared to the fortified city of Jericho, Ai was a very small town with no walls. Ai was located to the east of Bethel, and about 2 miles to the west of Jericho. Abraham built an altar to the Lord between Ai and Bethel, Genesis 12:8. The Israelites’ first military campaign to take Ai was a total failure.
He left from there to go to the mountain on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to Yahweh and called on Yahweh’s name.Genesis 12:8
The Israelites sinned because Achan secretly took some spoils of war from the battle of Jericho and hide them. The Lord forbade the Israelites from taking anything in Jericho. Everything must be destroyed because they were cursed. Only articles of gold, silver, brass, and bronze were to be preserved. Only Rahab, the prostitute, and those family members who stayed in her house would be saved. The LORD’s anger burned against the Israelites.
At that moment, Joshua did not know about this. He sent spies to Ai. Ai in Hebrews means heaps of ruins. Modern-day Ai is Baythin in the West Bank. The spies returned and told Joshua that Ai would be an easy target and that all they needed was a small army. Without enquiring from the LORD, Joshua sent three thousand fighting men to Ai.
They men of Ai defeated the Israelites on the battlefield. Thirty-six Israelites were dead and the rest fled out of Ai terrified with fear. Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothes, applied ashes on their heads, and fell prostrate before the ark until evening. The people in biblical times tear off their clothes and apply ashes on their heads during times of grief, mourning, and loss.
The Lord revealed to Joshua that one of his men had taken some spoils of war from the battle of Jericho and hidden them. Joshua assembled the people and drew lots tribe by tribe, clan by clan, family by family, and men by men until the lot fell on Achan.
During the Old Testament time, the Israelites drew lots using the Ummim and the Tummin to seek God’s will, Leviticus 8:8, Proverb 16:33.
He placed the breastplate on him, He put Urim and Tummin in the breast plate.Leviticus 8:8
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from YahwehProverbs 16:33
Achan confessed to Joshua that he had taken a Babylonian robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and one piece of gold weighing fifty shekels, and had buried them in his tent. Joshua sent men to Achan’s tent, who went and brought back the stolen items. At the LORD’s command, Joshua and his men stoned Achan and his family members to death and burned their bodies with his animals, belonging, and stolen items in the valley of Achor.
Joshua and his men were defeated at Ai because of many reasons. After the victory at Jericho, they became overconfident and proud. They did not seek God’s will and direction. They planned and acted on their own agenda and with their own strength.
You cannot hide any sin from God. God is omniscient and knows everything, Luke 8:17, Hebrews 4:13 Unconfessed sin will lead to a defeated spiritual life. If you have sinned, confess, repent and claim the promise of 1 John 1:9. God will forgive and restore you.
For nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to lightLuke 8:17
There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.Hebrew 4:13
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness1 John 1:9
You must not be overconfident and proud because of past victories. Always seek God’s will and wait for His direction first. Do not fight the battle with your own strength. You are fighting a spiritual battle using spiritual weapons such i.e. prayer, fasting, worship, and the word of God, 2 Corinthians 10:4. The battle belongs to God and not to you. You are not fighting against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, Ephesians 6:12
the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds2 Corinthians 10:14
For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12
Seeking God’s will
Buddhists draw lots to seek god’s will in the Buddhist temple. On the altar, they juggle a bamboo container containing sticks with words on them. If they juggle long enough, one of the sticks will fall out to the ground. The words on the stick will be taken as god’s answer to their prayer.
As a Christian, you do not draw a lot. You seek God’s will through prayer, fasting, worship, meditation, and bible study. God will also speak to you through the Bible, the still small voice and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and other mysterious ways.
Heavenly Father, we confessed that we are sinners. Please forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. We pray that You will speak to us through Your Word, the still small voice, the Holy Spirit and other ways. Help us to discern Your good, pleasing, and perfect will. Help us to put on the full armor of God that You have provided for us. Thank You that the battle belongs to You, and not to us, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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