Today we're going to look at the Book of Joshua, chapter 8, beginning in verse 18. We recall that Israel has once before been defeated by the little town of Ai. This was when Aichen had stolen the Babylonian garment and the silver and gold from Jericho and hidden them under his tent. God withdrew his blessing from the Israelites, and when they went to attack Ai, they were defeated soundly. Joshua cried out to God. The Lord told him there was sin in the camp and revealed to him what had happened there in the family of Aichen. Aichen and his family were put to death for that sin.
It was then time to go once again to Ai. This was a very different battle for Joshua than at Jericho. At Jericho God had miraculously delivered them. Their strategy was to march around the city once a day for six days, and then on the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times. There would be silence for just a moment, and then they were to blow the trumpets. At the sound of the trumpets the walls of Jericho fell. It was a miraculous event. The battle at Ai would be quite different. No miracles were given, no strange strategies. In fact, it was a military strategy that God gave Joshua. God told Joshua that he was to send part of the army for a full frontal assault on Ai. But another part of the army, the largest portion, was to basically hide behind the city, and when the men of Ai came out to fight the Israelites that were before their gates, those Israelites were to turn and flee. The king of Ai and his men would chase after them, and once they got out of the city, believing they once again had victory over the Israelites, the Israelites that were hidden behind the city were to invade and raze the city—to burn it and kill everyone ...
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Hershael York is pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky, as well as Professor of Christian Preaching and Associate Dean of Ministry and Proclamation in the School of Theology of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.