“So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai.” Joshua 7:4 (NKJV)
Maybe it was the high of having defeated the mighty city of Jericho. Maybe it was just an over active forgetory. Maybe it was arrogance. Either way, Ai was the first big stuff up for Joshua. This leader of great courage and vision had sent his men to fight a battle that they could have easily won. The numbers were on their side. Yet, very strangely, when only 36 out of the 3,000 men sent to the battle were killed, the Israelite army ran away like scaredy cats.
Most of us don’t get out guns or swords and go and fight armies and capture cities. Most of the battles we fight are different. They can be battles in the workplace. They can be battles to protect our children from evil. They can be battles to keep relationships growing and strong. They can be verbal, physical, emotional, political, overt or covert. They are often spiritual.
The battle at Ai was not Joshua’s greatest day, nor his worst, but we can learn some great truths from this story from Joshua chapters 7 and 8 that can prevent us from making similar mistakes in our lives. The lessons we can take from Ai are:
- Include God in your planning – Joshua didn’t consult God for His plans until they had already lost one battle against Ai. When he did ask God for His plans God gave Joshua a tricky plan, not just the original straight on attack that Joshua’s men had devised.
- Ask God what, when, who and how – Often we listen long enough to get the “what” from God – go attack Ai, and miss out on the rest of the details. I learnt this lesson from a man of God who had unfortunately learnt this the hard way and hurt a lot of people in the process. For Joshua the when was midnight, the who was a split group and the how was an ambush.
- Don’t hold back – Man’s plan had only 10% of the army heading into battle. God’s plan had 100% of the fighting men heading into battle. Sometimes it’s tempting to only put in a partial effort, but if the battle is worth fighting we need to give it our all.
- Remove the sin from the camp – when Joshua asked God why they had lost the battle, He told them there was sin in the camp. This was why the men had run away with a measly 1% casualty rate. For the Israelites the sin was disobedience and theft. For us it may be unforgiveness, pride, prejudice, lying. Whatever our sin, we won’t win the spiritual battles if we don’t come before God with a clean and sinless heart. If you are fighting a battle today, maybe this is a good place to start.
Have you had a time when you didn’t stop and get the full instructions from God? How did this impact the situation? Share your story in the comments below.
Check the whole story out as done in Lego by The Brick Testament – it’s very cool 🙂
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