Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Joshua 8:1–29

Joshua 8:1–29: The Israelites take Ai


In the passage, the Israelites go back into battle with Ai—except this time, the LORD is on their side. In the passage, there is a before and an after—that is, there is a “here is what we’re going to do” part, and then another part which describes them doing it. I’m not bothering to describe all of that here.

To start off with, the LORD tells Joshua not to be afraid or discouraged. (Probably because of the events in the last passage, regarding Achan’s sin.) Joshua should go ahead and conquer Ai, because He has given it into Joshua’s hands. However, in this case, the Israelites are allowed to keep the plunder for themselves.

So the Israelites carry out an ingenious plan. I don’t know if it’s Joshua’s plan, or if the LORD gives it to him. (Well, yes, in either case, whether Joshua thought it was his plan or not, the LORD gave it to him; but I mean if the LORD directly told him, “this is what I want you to do.”) The Israelites send five thousand men to attack Ai, as before. However, unbeknownst to the people in Ai, Joshua also sends twenty-five thousand men around to the other side of Ai. When the soldiers from Ai come out to attack Joshua and his five thousand men, Joshua falls back, and pretends to retreat, fooling the soldiers of Ai to believe they are defeating the Israelites, as they’d done before—but once Joshua has drawn Ai’s men away from the city, the other twenty-five thousand soldiers overrun it. Then, as soon as Joshua and his men see that the city is being taken over, they turn around, and begin fighting the men from Ai in earnest. So the men of Ai are surrounded, with Joshua’s men in front, and the other twenty-five thousand men behind them.

So the Israelites defeat the people of Ai. (I really don’t know what to call them; Ai-ites? Ai-ians? Ai-evites?) They destroy the city, and leave it “a permanent heap of ruins” (verse 28).


It’s interesting that Achan was stoned for keeping some of the plunder of Jericho, which wasn’t allowed, and yet at the very next place the Israelites conquered, they were allowed to keep the plunder. If only Achan had waited until Ai, instead of keeping the plunder at Jericho!

I wonder if God might have been sending a message to the Israelites, by letting them keep the plunder of Ai right after punishing Achan for keeping plunder he wasn’t allowed to keep? Perhaps a message along the lines of, “My timing is not your timing, and you should obey my commands, because I know what the future holds, and you don’t,” or something similar?


Edian said...

Hi, I'm from Mexico, so English it's not my native language, sorry about my mistakes.

I'm in a project in my church, the youngest (and some adults), doesn't read the bible, I want to promove the reading, any thoughts?

David Hunter said...

A good question. I have a couple of suggestions, but others might have more (and better) suggestions, too. Then again, I don’t know how many people read this blog—I’m guessing not many—so hopefully there will be other websites out there tackling this problem, as well.

First, I know that there are people in my church who can’t read. It may be that there are people in your church who can’t read, either. So for those people, then literacy might be your biggest priority. There may be literacy programs in your area, that you can help people enrol in, or, if there aren’t any, maybe you can start such a program in your church. (If there aren’t any such programs in your area, and you want to start one in your church, it can also double as an outreach ministry, to minister to the lost.)

My second suggestion would be to start some small group Bible studies, in addition to your normal worship services. Getting a smaller group of people together, maybe 5–10 people or so, to study the Word together, has numerous benefits for all involved, and one of those benefits is to show people how the Word does affect them, in their day-to-day lives. I’ve found that the Bible becomes much more personal when I’m in a small group Bible study than it does when I study on my own. There are many small group study guides you can use for such a meeting, and I find that it doesn’t really matter which one you choose; as long as it sparks conversation among the group, it will be successful, because it’s the interaction between the people involved that’s most important. (That being said, you should have someone in the group who does know the Word well; you want to have someone there to help steer the conversation in the right direction, if people start to flounder.)

I hope these suggestions are helpful. If there are others who read this blog, feel free to post additional suggestions here.