May 26 | Waking with The Word | Joshua 8: 3-8 & 29
Joshua 8:3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night. :4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready: :5 And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them, :6 (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them. :7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. :8 And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.
Joshua 8:29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.
This Chapter is a chapter of new beginnings and second chances. The number 8 is often associated with new beginnings in the Bible and that is definitely the case here. They are gaining the victory over something that defeated them in the past. Our verses today point out 2 things about their victory in chapter eight.
1. Their Means of Victory
I would call your attention to the means that were employed here to defeat Ai. At Jericho God brought down the walls in a miraculous way but here we see them employing a detailed plan as to how they were going to overcome the enemy. Now this wasn't the first time they employed their plans, go back to chapter 7. Their plan in chapter 7 was a complete failure. So, what we learn is that our plans are useless without the blessing of God. It wasn't their plan that brought victory, it was God working through them that brought victory. Notice: Joshua 8:7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.
Our plans can be wonderful or terrible but it is God that can give you victory over sin. Should you have a plan on overcoming sin? I think it would be irresponsible not to have a plan but know that your plan is useless unless it's working in tandem with the blessing of God. God was blessing their efforts because they had dealt with the secret sin in their camp and now they can press forward toward the mark. We are talking about overcoming besetting sin. Those sins that have defeated us more than once. The absolute worse thing you could do is hide it, like mold and mildew it thrives in the darkness but when brought to the light it dries up and dies. Is their an Ai in your life? A besetting sin that has defeated you? Let's talk about how to defeat it like Israel defeated Ai that city that beset them a whole chapter. We've already said it, bring it to the light. Be accountable to God first of all and keep short accounts with Him. Now moving to the illustration we find in our verses today. God didn't break down the walls of Ai and let them ascend up and take the victory effortlessly, no this time around they were going to have to employ every person and method they had in the fight against that besetting city. Our besetting sin is often the same, don't expect victory to fall into your lap, you are going to have to employ effort, prayer and accountability or whatever it takes to overcome that besetting sin. God will bless those efforts. We are in danger of one of two things here. One, not working because we are expecting God to give everything to us, if this is your mindset then your faith has degenerated to presumption. Two, we are in danger of relying completely on our plans without the help of God. This is also true with all things considering our christian life. I heard it said like this: "Work like it's all up to you, Pray like it's all up to Him." Don't forsake effort in the name of faith and don't forsake faith in the name of effort. Joshua and Israel had to have God's blessing but that didn't stop them from working, actually it emboldened them to work. Look at the little effort they put forth in chapter 7 when presumption was their guide.
Joshua 7:3 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.
Now notice the effort put forth when faith was their guide:
Joshua 8:3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour,
Faith doesn't weaken your efforts or determination but rather strengthens it. So, in conquering your Canaan let faith lead and not presumption, let your efforts work in tandem with the blessing and will of God. That was the means of their victory and will be the means of your victory as well.
2. Their Memorial of Victory
We find in verse 29 that they have defeated Ai and taken the king and buried him under a pile of stones. These piles of stones are found through out the Book of Joshua and are a way of memorializing a place, person or event. At Jordan they memorialized their Fathers deliverance, at The Valley of Achor they memorialized their Friends Disobedience and here they are memorializing their Foes Defeat. When people would pass by these piles of stones they would say "What mean ye by these stones?" and at Gilgal they would answer, God wrought a great deliverance and brought us across the Jordan river on dry ground. At the Valley of Achor they would say, we had a friend that hid his sin and isn't any longer with us but at Ai they would say, God gave us a second chance to make things right, we had been defeated before by this city but God allowed us to comeback and fight it again and not only did he give us the city but the king as well and beneath this pile of stones lies the one who God delivered into our hands.
Let me say this, there could not have been a memorial at Ai if there hadn't been a memorial at Achor. That is to say that they couldn't have dealt with the king at Ai until they dealt with the sin in their camp. Dear reader, you can have the victory over sin, not that you will ever be sinless but we don't have to fight the same battle over and over and over. Raise a pile of stones over your sin and God will allow you to raise a pile of stones over the enemy. Is there a place where you dealt with your sin? If not there won't be a place of victory over the enemy. I've heard the testimony of drunkards who no longer battle with addiction, the testimony of sexual perverts who now are repulsed by the very things they thrived on for so many years, the testimony of thieves that went and gave back what they stole. This is possible because their sins were confronted and dealt with as sin. Now they live in victory over those sins because they were dealt with as sin and not as treasure. See, Achan called what he had found and hidden treasure but God called what he had found and hidden sin. Is your sin a hidden treasure or a hideous trespass? Do you want a life of victory over sin? Then bring the sin to light and bury it. Then you can have victory over the enemy in the next chapters of your life.
Sin Slaves, Jesus Saves!!
Onward Christian Soldier!!