Read: Joshua 7
Sin of Achan; Israelites flee at Ai; Law recorded at Mount Ebal.
And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water (Josh. 7:5).
The Lord held back the waters of the Jordan River at the time of year when the Jordan River overflowed its banks and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground into Canaan (Joshua 3:6-17). After the victory over Jericho, the Israelites were rejoicing.
Nine times in the first six chapters of this book it is said that the Lord had spoken and directed Joshua (1:1; 3:7; 4:1,8,10,15; 5:2,15; 6:2). However, now, without seeking direction from God, the Israelites attacked the city of Ai (Chapter 7). By not consulting the Lord, Israel was ignoring it's Commander in Chief and therefore was not made aware of sin in the camp, which made their defeat inevitable. Joshua had momentarily failed to consider that the Lord Himself was their Commander-in-Chief, and that He alone could issue orders that would result in success (1:5). God commanded that the evil sin by Achan had to be judged first. Only then could Joshua call on the Lord for directions in the complete victory over Ai.
The Israelites’ reasoning that led to their defeat at Ai has been repeated by most of us. When no serious problems seem to exist, we become overconfident, seemingly self-sufficient, and assume the Lord expects us to use “our own good judgment.” However, apart from our submission to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the smallest temptation will prove to be too powerful for us. He alone imparts discernment as we read and desire to obey the Word of God. That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour (2 Pet. 3:2).
Many begin their Christian lives in prayer and daily Bible reading but eventually become self-confident and forget what the Word of God tells us. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). The truth here is we don’t win our victories because we are Christians any more than Joshua won the battle at Ai because he was an Israelite. Our battles are won by the love, care, and direction of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Word of God is quick (living), and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder (in two) of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner (judge, critic) of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
Thought for Today:
The most honored of God's servants fail when they fail to pray!
7:5 in the going down, on the way down the hillside; 7:6 put dust upon their heads, an expression of humility and sorrow; 7:11 dissembled, acted deceitfully; 7:19 give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord, confess the truth, which honors God.
Prayer Suggestion: Rejoice over and pray for those who share the Good News (Nahum 1:15).
Optional Reading: John 6
Memory Verse for the Week: Revelation 1:3