Joshua – Lesson 9

Joshua Chapter 8


Last week we saw the nation of Israel brought low by the sin of one man in the camp. We discussed how that none of us are islands that live only unto themselves, but that our sins affect many others. God was upset with the whole nation because of Achan's sin. When he was found out, he and his family were stoned to death. I thank God that we have mercy today in the time of the Dispensation of Grace, but God still looks upon sin with the same harsh sentence. Someone must pay for our sins, either we will by spending eternity in the flames of Hell, or we can turn to God through Jesus Christ, God's only Begotten Son, and He will forgive us of those sins. I thank God for His mercy.

In Joshua 7:26. We see God turning from His anger.

Josh 7:26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.

The Bible says that God is angry with the wicked every day, and it is only when sin is put away that we can expect to hear from God.

I. The Effect of Sin

Josh 8:1 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:

We see that the sin of Achan had a profound effect upon Joshua. God tells him to "Fear not, neither be thou dismayed." These words were for both Joshua and the whole nation. He tells Joshua to arise which indicates that he most likely had fallen on his face again after they had destroyed Achan. After reassuring him, he tells them to go up to AI and take the city. Note they were not to do it man's way which had failed earlier, but they were to do it God's Way. That meant to take all the people up to the battle. I know God wants every member of our church to be involved in the battle we are raging on Satan today. It is so difficult to win any battle if everyone is not focused and about their job. The Great Commission to go forth and preach the Gospel to all nations was not given to just pastors and ministers, but to all of the church. Note how that God's promise of victory was sure. He said "I have given." It wasn't I will, or if you fight hard enough

I might, it was a statement of fact "I have given" The battle was already won if they would but do what God told them. Same is true about salvation. Jesus has already paid the penalty for your sins, but if you don't do what God says, which is repent of your sins and come to Christ, the victory will not be yours.

Rom 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

This was the way that God had made the promise to the Israelites. He calleth those things which be not as though they were. Sometimes it just comes down to following God in faith.


II. How the Enemy was to be Dealt With


Josh 8:2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.

They were to utterly destroy the King of Ai just as they had the people of Jericho. This teaching goes forth today in our lives to show us how we as Christians should not adopt an uncompromising attitude toward evil. As a matter of fact, we are to shun even the appearance of evil.

1 Th 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

1 Th 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

The people were granted the right to take the spoils and the cattle for themselves as they took Ai. God owns all the cattle on the earth, and he can give them to whomever he wishes.

Psa 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

Psa 50:11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.


III. How Ai was to be taken

Josh 8:3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night.

Josh 8:4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:

The method by which Ai was to be taken was much different than the way they took Jericho. There was much the people had to do. They had to lie in wait to ambush of a much smaller city than Jericho. We need to realize that how we deal with situations may be different as God so directs. The basic plan of how to live is certainly laid out in the master blueprint, the Word of God. But God may direct His pastors to do things that we may or may not understand at the time. But for Joshua to be successful, the people had to obey God. You and I must be obedient and follow our Pastor's leadership. We will never fail when the Man of God is seeking God's leadership of the Spirit.

Note that in verse 4 he tell them where to go, what to do, and how to conduct themselves. Sounds a bit like the Christian walk in this world. God lays down the rules, and we should do as He tells us. There are places we should go (to homes, church, jail, hospitals) and then there are places we should not go. (Places of the world such as night clubs or bars.) And the rules of what to do and how to act are certainly pure and clear in God's Word.

Josh 8:5 And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them,

Josh 8:6 (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them.

Josh 8:7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.

See how God showed them how to draw out the men from the city. God's plan never fails, and it is normally very simple. Joshua was to go up and they would chase after them when they ran back. Joshua was confident that he knew how the King of Ai would react.

We as Christians need to know what Satan is going to try and pull on us.

2 Cor 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

For this plan to work, the Israelites had to follow their leader's instructions. For us to have a victory over Satan, you and I must follow the commands written in God's Holy Word to deal with his devices.


IV. The Plan to Destroy the City

Josh 8:8 And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.

Only half the work was to be done by the ambush. After taking the battle, they were to set the whole city on fire. The sight of the smoking houses would not only panic the King of Ai but also his army.

Josh 8:20 And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers.

The smoke would also signal Joshua that his ambush had made them the masters of the city. When we are to do something for God, we should do it right then. We should not be tardy or slow in accomplishing God's Work. Our failure to be prompt can hinder our brethren and their work for the Lord. We don't drag in late to work because it would make our employers unhappy. How much more should we be on time to the services of our Lord and Savior. Church is not a social function of no consequence, it is a serious matter of service and worship. We should be much more dedicated to God than we are to our work. Maybe come early and stay late would be a good policy.


V. Joshua Among the People

Josh 8:9 Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people.

Josh 8:10 And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.

Josh 8:11 And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai.

Josh 8:12 And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city.

Josh 8:13 And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.

Josh 8:14 And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.


We are told in verse 9 that Joshua lodged the night with the people. I believe that was not unusual, but was very common. Leaders who want to be great leaders must be willing to work with the rest of the servants and warriors. Speaking without action in example is a very poor form of leadership.

If we are right about Joshua commonly staying with the other people, why was this verse written in God's Word. There is always a reason. Most likely it was the Holy Spirit having it expressed to show an antitype. It speaks of our Lord as the one who had not where to lay his head.

John 7:53 And every man went unto his own house.

John 8:1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

Many times we saw Jesus spending his nights upon the mountain side. The others went to their own house it says in John, but Jesus went to the mount of Olives.

From Verse 14, it seems clear that whatever Joshua had done that night, it was now visible to those in Ai as soon as day broke. This attracted their attention. Perhaps the people of Ai were attempting to spring a surprise attack on Israel at dawn.

Mat 13:25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

We see in Matthew that while men sleep, that is when the enemy sows his tares. Let's be careful to not be asleep at the wheel as we travel through this earth's travels. Satan wants us to be ignorant and not watching. God wants us to be ever watching.


VI Victory for Israel

Josh 8:15 And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.

Josh 8:16 And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city.

Josh 8:17 And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.

Joshua performs the plan to perfection. They pretended to be running scared, and the army of Ai comes rushing after them and leave the city gates wide open. No doubt everyone there wanted to be part of the battle, and felt they had nothing to fear. We had always better be watchful every day, because our enemy if very deceitful, and is looking for any way he can to get the edge on us. When we may feel the strongest may be at the moment when we are very weak.

2 Cor 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

2 Cor 13:9 For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.

2 Cor 13:10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.


VII. Joshua Waits on the Lord

Josh 8:18 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city.

Josh 8:19 And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.

We see that Joshua waits for God's command before he turned on the enemy.

Josh 8:20 And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers.

Josh 8:21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.

Josh 8:22 And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.

Josh 8:23 And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.

Josh 8:24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.

Josh 8:25 And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.

Josh 8:26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.

We see that Joshua used the spear to direct the whole engagement, until complete victory was achieved. The smoke of the city was the signal that the ambush had taken the city.


VIII. God's People Worship

Josh 8:30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal,

Josh 8:31 As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

Josh 8:32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.

Josh 8:33 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.

Josh 8:34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.

Josh 8:35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

Verse 30 tells us that Joshua built an altar unto the Lord. The altar was built of whole stones. This altar speaks of Christ. Christ needs no shaping in order to make a sacrifice for us. That is why no man was to lift a hand upon these stones.

The altar was the meeting place between God and Man. Jesus is our bridge today that connects us to God.

Mt. Ebal was to have the curses put upon it and Mt. Gerizim was to have the blessings put upon it.

Deu 11:29 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.

Mt. Gerizim was to be the place where the worlds of the Law were to be read. They were to read both the good and bad. (Blessings and cursings). You and I can not pick and choose which commandments or books of the Bible we are to believe and teach. We have to accept the whole Word and teach it all to be pleasing to God.


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