This chapter begins with Israel facing the same city that they faced previously and failed to conquer. There were a number of reasons for their defeat, but the primary reason was that there was sin in their midst that had not been dealt with. That sin caused them to be defeated at Ai. Now, they are back and it was time for Israel to go and face these people in battle once again.
This is the way it works in the Christian life. When we sin, we must deal with the sin on God's terms. Then and only then we can have victory. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to "…lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and … run with patience…" Sin entangles us in our Christian walk, but as we confess, repent, and find God's forgiveness He will bless us, and we will be able to run the race with confidence.
I. The Promised Victory v1-2
A. Word About Winning
1. When the Lord speaks to Joshua, after the death of Achan, God tells him to go to Ai.
2. However, he tells him that things will be different this time.
3. He assures Joshua and Israel of the victory.
4. It is interesting that the Lord called them to return to the place of their greatest defeat.
5. God knew that they needed to overcome the defeat at Ai before they could move on in the conquest of Canaan.
6. It's the same for us this evening.
a. I am not a real fan of video games, but both of my sons are.
b. So I have tried to play a few of them, my problem is that most of them are designed with specific levels.
c. A player must be victorious at each level, before they can advance.
d. I see a parallel to our Christian life.
e. If we do not gain victory now…we will be stuck with a 'level one' Christian life.
f. A life characterized by defeat, but the Lord never intended for us to live defeated lives!
g. Rather, His desire is that we experience the abundant life! h. Often we are defeated for the same reason that Israel was defeated…un-confessed sin!
1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
B. Word About Waiting
1. Notice that the Lord tells them that they will do to Ai what they did to Jericho.
2. Except for the fact that in Ai, they are to take all the spoils for themselves!
3. If Achan would have waited just a few more days, then he could have had all the riches that he could have imagined.
4. Instead, he ran ahead of God and grabbed for himself that which was forbidden by God and as a result, Achan paid the ultimate price.
5. There is a lesson for us in this.
a. If we could just learn top wait on God and let Him lead and bring into our lives the things that need to be there, we would be far better off.
b. Unfortunately, the flesh doesn't want to wait.
c. Regardless of the area, we are far better off to wait on the Lord to bring those things into our life that He knows are best for us.
Ps 37:34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
Ps 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
II. God Always Has a Plan
A. Notice the Details. v3-17
1. God told them exactly how they were to win this battle against Ai.
a. They were to lay an ambush for Ai and they would take the city and all its inhabitants.
b. Israel had already learned what happens when you do things the Lord's way.
c. When you fight the battle by following His plan, you cannot fail.
d. They had also learned what happens when they refused to do it God's way.
e. They learned that failure awaits that person who goes against the will of the Lord.
2. God also has a detailed plan for our victory.
a. No other plan will work!
b. God has given us the things we need to strengthen us spiritually for the battle.
c. He has instructed us concerning the importance of …
1) The Word of God
1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Lu 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Jas 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3) The Local Church
Ac 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
d. None of these things will give victory in and of themselves, but we need each one to strengthen us and to help us grow in the Lord.
e. When we begin to neglect even one of these essential areas, then we are sure to suffer spiritually.
f. When we feed the flesh and ignore our spiritual needs, then we are headed for trouble in our spiritual lives!
B. Following God's plans will always bring God's power. v18-23
1. Israel fought the battle, but God gave the victory!
2. The first time Israel went to Ai, they went in their own power and they suffered terrible, humiliating defeat.
3. This time they went to battle walking in the power of God and they were victorious.
4. Again, there is a lesson here for each of us.
a. The battle will not be won by our ability to say "No!"
b. The battle will not be won because we are more powerful than the temptations we face.
c. There is just one way for us to prevail in this battle, and that is for us to learn to appropriate the power of God in our lives.
Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
C. God's victory was complete. v24-29
1. Israel trusted in the Lord and absolutely prevailed over their enemy.
2. God did what He said He would do!
3. We are serving the very same God that gave Israel the victory!
4. We can count on Him to keep His Word.
Ro 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Ps 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
III. Worship is the Result of Victory
A. Joshua led the people in obedience to God's Word. v30-35
1. An altar was built. Cf. De. 27:4-8
2. A sacrifice was made.
3. The commanded observance was held.
De 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.
4. Half of the nation was to stand on Mount Ebal and the other half on Mount Gerizim.
5. The Levites were to stand in the valley between these mountains and were to read the cursings and the blessings.
6. As they read the cursings, the crowd on Mount Ebal was to shout "Amen."
7. When they read the blessings, the crowd on Mount Gerizim was to shout "Amen."
8. This exercise was to remind them of what God would bless and of what He would not bless.
9. They were reaffirming their commitment to live by the Word of God every day!
B. Blessing or cursing determined by our obedience.
1. If we want to achieve victory day by day, then we must learn to live by the Word of God.
2. If God said do it, then do it!
3. If God said don't do it, then don't do it.
4. If there is a doubt, then leave it out!
Mt 4:4 But he [Jesus] answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Victory can be ours when we choose to obey His Word. Blessing or cursing? The choice is ours. Is our life characterized by defeat? Then it is time for confession and repentance. Is our life characterized by victory? Then it is time for worship. Whatever the need, come.