The Lord instructed Joshua, “Set an ambush behind the city.” (Joshua 8:2)
Joshua explained it to the Israelites, “[When] you jump from your ambush and enter the city the Lord will give it to you.” (v. 7)
Then the Israelites go into battle against Ai, again, armed with God’s game plan and the ambush was successful. The do-over got done right.
I noticed how Joshua raced into battle in chapter 7 without hearing from the Lord. This week I realized Joshua didn’t seek the Lord because he listened to his friends.
The spies he sent into Ai told him it would be an easy victory. “They told Joshua, ‘It’s a small city and it won’t take more than two or three thousand of us to destroy it; there’s no point in all of us going there.’” (Joshua 7:3)
The result of the first attack on Ai, a small city, was a massacre for God’s chosen people. Their disaster brought them face to face with His love.
God turned His head toward Joshua as sin was exterminated from their camp. In His great mercy, love, compassion and grace He spoke once more. And what were the first words spoken after a complete bumble?
“Don’t be afraid or discouraged; take the entire army and go to Ai, for it is now yours to conquer.” Joshua 8:1
Three things immediately jumped off the page at me this week:
Don’t be afraid or discouraged: Sin does that.
When I listen to what others say, even well meaning others, I tend to become unsure of God’s voice. I share the vision for ministry God has given me and I hear things like, “That’s not original enough,” “Are you sure people will interested in that?” “Why would you do that?” and “How will you support your family?” I become fearful of rejection and failure. I lose my passion and energy to discouragement and doubt. The result is I don’t ever remember hearing God’s voice at all.
Take the entire army and go: Don’t assume victory will be easy.
The spies Joshua sent out in chapter 7 told him it was a small town, easy victory and wouldn’t take more than two or three thousand men. At last count, I tallied the so entire army to be greater than 35,000. (v. 3-4, 10-11)
In college, I visited an eating disorder/overeating group. The group’s intention was for women to hold each other accountable to healthy dieting (most members were trying to lose weight) by implementing godly habits. I was crying out for help. I had started rigidly counting the number of calories I consumed each day. I was working out three or four hours daily in addition to the food restriction. I felt I was spinning out of control and wanted accountability. When I shared my story, the older women took one look at my 120-pound body and said if counting calories and over-exercising were all I was worried about, I didn’t have a problem. I became terrified the way I was feeling was normal. I doubted it had been God telling me I needed to get help and share my story. I became discouraged from seeking outside help and hesitant to share my experiences with others.
The ladies at the group decided the ‘city’ I was fighting was small and wouldn’t take much for me to win victory. I battled bouts of starvation, binging and purging for the next five years and still battle the emotional wounds of an eating disorder. God knew my own Ai would take the entire army to defeat.
It is now yours to conquer: The victory is already ours.
God’s Word promises, “Every God-begotten person conquers the world's ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world's ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:4 The Message
Just like Joshua, I have a tendency to make choices from the viewpoint of my immediate surroundings rather than my eternal destination. I think this is why Joshua, “read to them all of the statements of blessing and the curses that Moses had written in the book of God’s laws. Every commandment Moses had ever given was read before the entire assembly, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among the Israelites.” (v. 34-35)
The enemy would like us to believe small cities are easy to conquer. God’s Word is clear, from small cities come giant victories. And from small-city victories come world-changing visions. Don’t suffer from small city syndrome. Believe big!
God, our God! God the one and only!
Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!
Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 The Message