Day 10: Joshua 8:1-29 “Ai Destroyed”
The battle still belongs to the Lord
This second attack on Ai starts out very differently to the devastating defeat that cost lives and brought Joshua to his knees in the previous chapter. This time, instead of charging ahead without consulting God, Joshua receives clear direction from the Lord. And he listens and obeys.
Consulting God before and during every battle is crucial as He will seldom use the same method twice. The plunder of Ai was not the first fruits as in the case of Jericho (Joshua 6), so God allowed Israel to take the spoils. What’s more, He led the Israelites in psychological warfare at Jericho but chose to use military strategy at Ai. If we’re not aware of God’s battle plan, we can end up trying to apply our own methods and strategies to battles that can only be won His way. And that never ends well!
God gives Joshua some big clues about how to fight this particular battle:
“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.” (verse 1).
First off, who knows that when the Lord says “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re about to come up against something that will assault both your courage and your resolve. But it’s a command! And God was commanding Joshua to remain obedient to His plan because He knew the victory had already been secured.
The problem was Joshua didn’t know this. Not for sure. Surrendering all control to God can be a scary and vulnerable thing to do – especially when your life and the lives of others depend on it. All Joshua could do was trust that if God was leading and he was following, then God would bring about the victory.
Imagine you’ve been selected as centre forward for the best football team there’s ever been. They’ve never lost a match under the current manager. Your team mates have been hand-picked to guarantee success. The opposing side is known for its predictable game plan, while your manager is famous for his winning strategies. He has a perfect track record when it comes to positioning players according to their strengths. And he’s going to be right there with you, shouting out your every move ahead of time and spurring you on. You can’t believe he sees your potential, let alone wants to use you. Because let’s face it, you wouldn’t have backed yourself. Did he not hear that you got red-carded in your last match and scored an own goal in the one before that? Perhaps it escaped his notice that you’ve yet to win a single game this year… Suddenly you’ve developed a bit of a limp, fear begins to creep in and you hear yourself politely suggesting that he pick someone better prepared, better suited, better equipped for the win…
The great thing about being on God’s team, is that He’s strong enough for the both of you! You are guaranteed victory “wherever you set your foot”! (Joshua 1:3) Despite his previous setbacks, Joshua knew that he was called and chosen. He knew he had a part to play in God’s plan and would have to overcome his fears if he was to start moving forward again. He had a choice – he could either allow worry and fear to consume him, or he could trust that God was with him and would equip him with everything he needed as he walked in obedience.
Fear was overcome when Joshua made that simple choice to trust in the presence, power and promises of God. By moving forward in obedience with His word, we really can see victory over fear. It’s worth remembering that this second attack on Ai was launched only after the Lord had commanded it and had provided the battle plan. Successful battles in God’s kingdom are ALWAYS waged in dependence on (not independently of) the Lord. It could only ever be God who would deliver Ai into Joshua’s hands.
By maintaining open communication with God – even in the heat of the battle – Joshua is able to receive constant direction and encouragement. This is crucial to victory. Joshua shows us what it looks like to live life and fight battles in true dependence on God. He doesn’t just say a quick prayer, hope for the best and then go and do it on his own. He keeps up communication with God throughout the battle, and is therefore able to walk and fight in divine wisdom and strength.
God doesn’t need us to accomplish His will or win His battles – but He loves to involve us in the process and teach us to trust Him as we follow in His footsteps. That’s when our faith really begins to grow!
I’m sure we can all recall times where we’ve tried to fight our own battles … and were left overwhelmed, exhausted and discouraged. That is not God’s heart for us! He knows exactly how to win every battle and longs for us to partner with Him in this. When we remain connected to Him and communicate with Him in the battle – when we focus solely on doing what He’s asking us to do instead of trying to manage everything on our own, we suddenly find that we can breathe easy again and trust Him with the outcome.
God longs for us to connect with Him, listen to Him, learn from Him and ultimately move forward with Him. It’s only when we’re fully abiding in Him and moving forward in His strength that we will conquer our fears and win the battles, one day at a time.
***To the victor go the spoils***
Leadership Academy Graduate