“Oh Lord stuck in Ai again”
Joshua chapter seven started with the ominous words, “But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things”, and this was what led to their defeat in the land of promise at Ai. But when you look at the first words of chapter 8 it starts with, “Now the Lord said to Joshua: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.” The 8th chapter reveals the Lord bringing about victory where there once was defeat. Had 70’s rock band Credence Clearwater Revival been around at that time the song may have been, “Oh, Lord, stuck in Ai again.” Nothing causes paralysis in our lives more than failure. The victorious Christian isn’t the one that never makes a mistake, rather they are the ones that after they fail get up and obey the Lord. Having dealt with sin that caused defeat, the Israelites were ready to deal with the defeat. Henry Ford defined a mistake as “an opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” Warren Wiersbe writes, “No matter what mistakes we may make, the worst mistake of all is not to try again”. There seems to be always two reactions that accompany our failure:
- Discouragement over the past
- Fear of the future
Sixty-two times in the bible, God exhorts us not to fear. The antidote to “discouragement and fear” is to start trusting God’s word. In 2 Chron. 16:9 we are told that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” D.L. Moody once said “God never made a promise that was too good to be true”. Have you ever found it difficult to regain the ground you lost in your life? That is where God is going to deal with the defeat and lost at Ai. When we have failed at some point in our Christian lives, we need to know how to get back on track. In verses 1-8 we are given two keys to regaining victory upon ground where we were once defeated:
- Vs. 1 “Do not be afraid, nor dismayed”: God wanted to use their failure in a way that was included in their victory. God told Joshua to take “all the people of war with you”. There are times we remain defeated Christians not because we haven’t dealt with our sin but because we have been unwilling to receive God’s forgiveness.
- Vs. 3-8 Ai’s defeat would employ a rare combination of humility courage and patience. 25,000 men became part of the decoy and it was this group that would fake being cowards that Joshua was to lead. The plan involved patience as they waited for Ai to take the bait. They were to act like they did when they were defeated! The lesson is: The victory won yesterday will not bring the power necessary for victory today. The greatest temptation that occurs after victory is to depend upon the past power of God in the present circumstance.