Isn’t it just astonishing how we get to experience same scripture, but get different personal messages as we allow the Spirit of God speak to our hearts? It surprises me all the time. I am so glad to share with you this morning the contemplation of another son of God.
Enjoy the read.
The city of Ai wasn’t significant, but it was strategic. Israel needed the mountain plateau on which it sat in order to control the surrounding land. Initially, a small force was sent to take the city, but the men were chased down the mountain in a rout. Even though only thirty-six soldiers were killed, the people were left demoralized, humiliated, and puzzled (Joshua 7:4-7). After all, hadn’t God promised to be with them?
When Jericho was captured, the people had been under strict orders not to loot the city. But Achan had broken the command, amassing a pile of booty in his tent and prompting the withdrawal of God’s help as a result. After the problem of Achan’s sin was dealt with, Joshua mustered his troops again and this time defeated Ai (7:10-26)
Ai was a small challenge compared to Jericho. Furthermore, it represented a failure. Yet the Hebrews were able to go back and win a victory there, too, just as they had done at Jericho.
We often rise to great heights when we face great challenges, but we sometimes sink to great depths when we face smaller battles in our day-to-day lives. Ai represents the battles we fight that are minor yet unsuccessful. But Ai also represents those failures that become victories. The gospel has an energy in it that will give us the wisdom and the will to pull ourselves together again after Achan’s sin and Ai’s rout and take the high ground.
The taking of both cities is instructive. Jericho was taken supernaturally, while Ai was taken strategically. The Christian life contains both: the supernatural and the strategic. There are times when God brings victory in a miraculous way, but there are also times when He brings victory in a mundane way. We should anticipate both possibilities. We should pray and we should plan, for we never know whether victory will take place through divine intervention or human preparation.
~ Eugene Peterson’s contemplation (Joshua 8)2