“But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites.” The Hebrew term used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by destroying them or by giving them as an offering. In Joshua 7:20-21, Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. Among the plunder, I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them.”
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you just took it? Or manipulated something or someone to get it? The Lord told Joshua that he had been lied to, and there were hidden things among the Israelite’s belongings. The Lord said, “They have stolen some of what I commanded must be set apart for me.” (vs. 11)
God is faithful to point out our sin, our fleshly desires, and what to do to get back to a restored relationship with Him. He told Joshua what to do next. (vs. 12) “For now, Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.” 13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.”
Achan was the guilty party. Once found out, he was stoned by the Israelites for his crime. His act of greed and idolatry cost him his life, his family, and livestock, plus the Israelites’ lives and their initial victory against Ai.
But God gives the Israelites another chance to defeat Ai.
In Joshua 8:1-2, the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the King of Ai, his people, his town, and his land. 2 You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its King. But this time, you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the town.”
This time, the Lord gave the go-ahead to keep the plunder, the spoils of war. Joshua listened intently to the Lord and set an ambush against their enemies of Ai. Today, I want you to know when you see the crazy evil all around the world, God is setting an ambush against the evil, the enemy, and his demon degenerates.
When you remember to inquire of the Lord before making a decision and obey what you sense Holy Spirit shared with you, you will be blessed. You will not have to collect the plunder for yourself, make things happen, or manipulate your way through. Trust Jesus. And when you blow it (as I often have) and ask for forgiveness, 1 Peter 5:10 shares good news, “And the God of all grace, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”
The King of Ai did not realize the Israelites had set an ambush behind and around the town, so the city was left wide open with no men to defend it. God told Joshua in verse 18, “Point the spear in your hand toward Ai, for I will hand the town over to you.”
I sense a command to “point our spear” of our prayers pointedly towards God and His strength! We can and must spear the evil with our praise and worship! Thank Jesus for going to the cross for your sins, disobedience, and greed! He IS mighty to save and rescue, and when we praise and worship Him, He sets ambushes against the enemy.
Joshua 8:20 says, “When the men of Ai looked behind them, smoke from the town was filling the sky, and they had nowhere to go. For the Israelites who had fled in the direction of the wilderness now turned on their pursuers.” God destroys and burns up evil. We can turn the tables on corruption with our bold prayers, believing the Lord will help us!
Verse 21-22, “When Joshua and all the other Israelites saw that the ambush had succeeded and that smoke was rising from the town, they turned and attacked the men of Ai. Meanwhile, the Israelites who were inside the town came out and attacked the enemy from the rear.” The Israelites had surrounded the Ai enemies. Like the Israelites, believers surround evil and defend God’s truth in the Word, justice, and righteousness. The Lord is asking us today to rise up, believers! We can choose to stand firm in our prayers and actions in the Name of the Lord Almighty, just as King David did against the giant Goliath!
“So the men of Ai were caught in the middle, with Israelite fighters on both sides. Israel attacked them, and not a single person survived or escaped.” (vs. 22b) Evil is being caught up in the middle and taken mightily out by your prayers! Do not relent!
The Israelite’s trouble continues in Joshua 9:1-2. “Now, all the kings west of the Jordan River heard about what had happened. These were the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who lived in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far north as the Lebanon mountains. 2 These kings combined their armies to fight as one against Joshua and the Israelites.”
I think the same is true of believers throughout the world today. Evil has most definitely ramped up. But guess what? We know the end of the story! We know Jesus resurrected from the dead three days later! We can celebrate Jesus and His resurrection power living within us! We can and must stay strong, with a clear focus upon Him and what He IS doing…not focused or hyper-focused on what evil is doing. Be strong and courageous, just like the Lord told Joshua over and over again!
Even when evil is in our midst, help us remember to pray with our spears pointed towards you because you are greater than any evil! You are mightier, and you have conquered death! Lord, help us remember to pray the Word out loud and praise and worship you alone! Jesus, help us be strong in you and your finished holy work on the cross, with our focus clear, standing courageous in you! In the powerful Name of Jesus we pray and thank again and again! Amen. Happy Easter!