Promises and Power – Message 7
February 19, 2023
I. Introduction: We continue our series entitled, Promises and Power.
- When we pursue the promises of God, He provides the power to fulfill His
- Joshua 7:10-12,25-26
A. Title to today’s message is Restoration.
- Achan’s theft at Jericho violated God’s covenant; He abandoned them in
battle at Ai.
Achan was forced to confess (Joshua 7:19-21); he and his family, who must
have conspired in hiding items (Deuteronomy 24:16), were stoned, bodies
burned, stones placed over them. (Joshua 7:25-26)
God’s anger subsided, then it was time to return to battle at Ai—with His
Joshua 8:18 (NLT)—
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “…I will hand the town over to you.”
An important lesson as we begin is, before facing a challenge, we must be
rightly connected to God—and if we have been disobedient—we must restored to relationship.
B. Restoring my faith by… (Joshua 8:1-35)
1. Responding to God’s differing direction.
(Joshua 8:1-13. C/R: Proverbs 3:5-6; John 16:13; James 1:5–8)
- Joshua 8:1 (NLT)—
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take
all your fighting men
[Hebrew go up, 1,700 feet ASL] and attack Ai [15
, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his
God, who caused the Israelites’ previous defeat by Ai, declared they would
Joshua 8:2 (NLT)—"
You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its king. But this
time you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an
ambush behind the town.”
[Why the change? Hebrew chêrem, set apart for destruction, applied
only to the first items from the first city captured in Canaan, Jericho,
dedicated as an offering to God.]
Had Achan waited a few days, he would have had all the plunder he could
carry, but he refused to respond to God’s direction and substituted his own
desires! [APP.: Have you?]
APP.: Do you trust God to give to you what is best for you? (Matthew 6:33)
Joshua 8:3-8 (NLT)—
… Joshua chose 30,000 of his best warriors and sent them out at night 4 with these orders: “Hide in ambush close behind the town
and be ready for action. 5 When our main army attacks, the
men of Ai will come out to fight as they did before, and we will run
away from them. 6 We will let them chase us until we have
drawn them away from the town. For they will say, ‘The Israelites are
running away from us as they did before.’ Then, while we are running
from them, 7 you will jump up from your ambush and take
possession of the town, for the Lord your God will give it to you. 8 Set the town on fire, as the Lord has commanded. You have
[Follow God’s directions!]
This plan from God relied on the over-confidence of Ai’s soldiers to defeat
In the failed first attack, Joshua followed the opinion of his spies and
used only part of the army, but this, he listened to God, took all the fighting men (v.1) and set up an ambush.
Joshua 8:9-13 (NLT)—
So they left and went to the place of ambush between Bethel and the
west side of Ai. But Joshua remained among the people in the camp that
Early the next morning Joshua roused his men and started toward Ai,
accompanied by the elders of Israel. 11 All the fighting men
who were with Joshua marched in front of the town and camped on the
north side of Ai, with a valley between them and the town. 12 That night Joshua sent about 5,000 men to lie in ambush
between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the town.
[out of sight of the city]
So they stationed the main army north of the town and the ambush west
of the town. Joshua himself spent that night in the valley.
This plan was completely different: a week of marches in the daylight with
horns blowing at Jericho, a covert night operation with a daylight assault
and an ambush at Ai.
The most significant difference was God collapsing the walls at Jericho,
but not at Ai.
God does not always lead in the same way, even in similar situations.
He will give differing directions and divergent tactics, even involving the
His methods change based on who He is working with and what they need to
The key to victory is to stay near to God, listen closely to His
instructions, because He is the source of success, not the plan
you learned from Him!
APP.: Do you seek God’s fresh instruction in each new challenge? (Proverbs
Restoring my faith by…
2. Removing an adversary God’s way.
(Joshua 8:14-29. C/R: Galatians 5:16; James 1:19–20; 1 John 5:4–5)
- Joshua 8:14-17 (NLT)—
When the king of Ai saw the Israelites across the valley, he and all
his army hurried out early in the morning and attacked the Israelites
at a place overlooking the Jordan Valley. But he didn’t realize there
was an ambush behind the town. 15 Joshua and the Israelite
army fled toward the wilderness as though they were badly beaten. 16 Then all the men in the town were called out to chase
after them. In this way, they were lured away from the town. 17 There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel
who did not chase after the Israelites, and the town was left wide
Like Ai, pride in ourselves and our accomplishments can blind us and lead
us to defeat.
Joshua 8:18-20, 22, 25-27 (NLT)—
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Point the spear in your hand toward Ai,
for I will hand the town over to you.” Joshua did as he was commanded. 19 As soon as Joshua gave this signal, all the men in ambush
jumped up from their position and poured into the town.
They quickly captured it and set it on fire.
When the men of Ai looked behind them, smoke from the town was filling
the sky, and they had nowhere to go. For the Israelites who had fled in
the direction of the wilderness now turned on their pursuers. …
Meanwhile, the Israelites who were inside the town came out and
attacked the enemy from the rear. So the men of Ai were caught in the
middle, with Israelite fighters on both sides. Israel attacked them,
and not a single person survived or escaped. 23 Only the
king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua.
…25 So the entire population of Ai, including men and women,
was wiped out that day—12,000 in all. 26 For Joshua kept
holding out his spear until everyone who had lived in Ai was completely
destroyed. 27 Only the livestock and the treasures of the
town were not destroyed, for the Israelites kept these as plunder for
themselves, as the Lord had commanded Joshua.
[Tithe (firstfruits) of the spoils of war in Canaan was devoted to God at
Jericho, so He permitted the army to claim the spoils at Ai.]
So Joshua burned the town of Ai, and it became a permanent mound of
ruins, desolate to this very day.
[Hebrew Ai means ruin. Archeologists cannot determine the
location with certainty today.]
This was not the slaughter of innocent people, but the judgment of God on
an evil society that long rejected Him and persisted in idolatry,
immorality, and human sacrifice.
Joshua 8:29 (NLT)—
Joshua impaled the king of Ai on a sharpened pole and left him there
until evening. At sunset the Israelites took down the body, as Joshua
commanded, and threw it in front of the town gate. They piled a great
heap of stones over him that can still be seen today.
[The stones at the entrance to Ai stood as a memorial to Israel’s victory.]
Joshua destroyed Ai’s enemies, by following God’s instructions, and holding
out his spear.
We must face our adversaries as God instructs us to—this might be people or
behaviors, attitudes or addictions; they must be dealt with as God directs,
God identifies sin—what is right and what is wrong—and we must agree with
His determination and deal with these attitudes and actions as He
APP.: Do I deal with disobedience in my life as God dictates?
Restoring my faith by…
3. Renewing the Covenant with God.
(Joshua 8:30-35. C/R: Ephesians 4:21–24; Hebrews 10:14–18;
- Joshua 8:30-33 (NLT)—
Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount
[20mi.N. of Ai]
He followed the commands that Moses the Lord’s servant had written in
the Book of Instruction: “Make me an altar from stones that are uncut
and have not been shaped with iron tools.”
Then on the altar they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to
the Lord. 32 And as the Israelites watched, Joshua copied
onto the stones of the altar
[covered with plaster] the instructions Moses had given them
Then all the Israelites—foreigners and native-born alike—along with the
elders, officers, and judges, were divided into two groups. One group
stood in front of Mount Gerizim, the other in front of Mount Ebal. Each
group faced the other, and between them stood the Levitical priests
carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant.
[God in the center.]
This was all done according to the commands that Moses, the servant of
the Lord, had previously given for blessing the people of Israel.
[Deuteronomy 11:26-29; 27:1-8]
This ceremony was a renewal of Israel’s covenant with God, which was broken
A covenant is more than a contract; it’s a permanent agreement over a
person’s total being.
“Covenant” is from Hebrew word, “to cut”; Moses sprinkled the blood of
animals on the altar and upon the people who entered a covenant with God at
Mount Sinai. (Exodus 24:3-8).
The blood seals and sanctifies the people’s covenant promises to obey God's
This valley is a natural amphitheater with good acoustics, so the people
Joshua 8:34-35 (NLT)—
Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written
in the Book of Instruction. 35 Every word of every command
that Moses had ever given
was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and
children and the foreigners who lived among them.
[Deuteronomy is 2nd telling of law by Moses at life’s end]
When Joshua and the Levites read the blessings from obeying God’s commands
(Deuteronomy 28:1–14), the tribes at Mt. Gerizim responded with a loud
“Amen!” (Hebrew, “So be it!”).
When they read the curses (Deuteronomy 27:11-26; 28:15-68), the tribes at
Mt. Ebal would respond with their “Amen” (“So be it” was accepting the
responsibility of obeying.)
Did they obey the law? No! So God established a New Covenant through the
sacrifice of His Son’s blood, so that forgiveness comes not through
obedience, but by faith.
Jesus’ perfect obedience to God’s law is credited to those of us who
We aren’t excused from obedience, but we are not judged for disobedience;
We are enabled to obey the law that was written on our hearts and minds
when we were born again; we obey because of love for our Savior, not fear
of judgment. [Hebrews 10:14-18]
APP.: Do you need to renew your covenant with God through Jesus, our
Psalm 37:23–24 (NLT)—
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of
their lives. 24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.