Joshua 7:1-11 :1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. :2 And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. :3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. :4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. :5 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. :6 And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. :7 And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! :8 O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! :9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? :10 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? :11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.
Chapter 6 tells us of their 1st victory over the enemy and chapter 7 tells us of their 1st defeat from their enemy. Also look at how the odds where not at all in their favor at Jericho, but the odds seemed overwhelmingly in their favor at AI. See, with God they were able to defeat their enemies in spite of the odds but without God they were unable to defeat their enemies in spite of the odds being in there favor. There are 2 things in this account that lead to their defeat.
1. Misplaced Possessions
God had given clear instruction on what to do with all the spoils of the battle they found in Jericho. Notice: Joshua 6:18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. :19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.
God had given very detailed and specific instructions on where all the spoils of the first battle were to go. Something else I'd have you notice is that He only wanted the spoils of the first battle, other cities were for Israel to take to themselves. Notice: Concerning Ai Joshua 8:27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua. Concerning Northern Canaan: Joshua 11:14 And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.
Concerning all of Canaan: Joshua 11:23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.
It was only that 1st city that God was requiring the spoils from. The rest was for them. Except for Achin, he decided that the rest wasn't enough and took of what God required as the first fruits of the defeat of Canaan. He didn't get to enjoy the rest because of his greediness to take the 1st.
Let's make an application. We've been talking about conquering our Canaan. With that thought in mind lets look at this defeat and learn about something that will cause defeat in our attempts to live in the will of God for our life. God had given specific instruction to Israel that the first fruits where to come to him and they were free to enjoy the rest of the spoils of their conquest. Much like the instruction given to Christians in the Bible to give our tithe, or the 1st 10% of money that we receive and New Testament Christians in the Bible were giving more than that. In a Christians life God ask us to give 10% but many Christians either believe they cannot or they believe that some how that the tithe was part of the law that has now ceased to be. Neither is true. The tithe was established before the Law was given,(ref: Genesis 14:20) The first tithe we find is centuries before the law was given. And we find new testament Christians giving exceeds 10% but they were said to have given out of their poverty and in the book of Acts they sold all they had. Notice also that the tithe was always more of a benefit for the people giving instead of a benefit to God. God wasn't going to benefit from the tithe but the people giving are the ones who benefited. Listen to the wisdom given by Solomon
Pro 3:9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: :10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
Again not a book of the law but a book of wisdom.
We are talking about misplaced possessions. Do you give God your first fruits? Do you at the very least tithe? If not your possessions are being misplaced. Don't expect victory until all the possessions are in the right place. I challenge you to trust the word of God concerning your tithe. Give God the first fruits and see if He doesn't pour you out a blessing. I believe many Christians are facing many problems because they've misplaced God's portion. I can testify from the scriptures and from experience that God will provide, God will make a way, God will supply when you put Him 1st. Commit at least 10% to Him and see for your self.
2. Misplaced Prayers
Notice now the placement of Joshua's prayer. It wasn't until verse 7 that Joshua begins to pray. Notice Verse 2 " And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai," we have no record of Joshua committing this battle to prayer until after their defeat. I believe that if prayer would have taking place in verse 2 instead of action and instruction they could have avoided the senseless death of 36 men. The problem came from Joshua giving instruction without getting instruction. Isn't this just like us? How many times has prayer been after all our failed attempts to serve God and then we finally as a last resort decide, "maybe I should pray about this." Dear reader, don't let prayer be a last resort. Prayer can be in one of two places, either after defeat or before victory. Prayer shouldn't be our last resort but our first instinct. See, in chapter 6 God was going to teach them and us as well about His strength but in Chapter 7 He taught them and us as well about sin and supplication. I don't think I have to spend time convincing you of the importance of prayer, but rather the place it holds. Are your prayers like Joshua's in chapter 7, always coming after failed attempts? If they are, then move them to the front of your decision making process instead of the end.
Two things here that brought defeat for Israel and are sure to bring defeat in the life of a Christian. Misplaced Possessions and Misplaced Prayers.
Little is much when God is in it!!
Onward Christian Soldiers!!