Perry Duggar |

Israel defeated Ai with God's direction, then renewed the covenant.

Promises and Power – Message 7
Perry Duggar
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 plans.
  • Joshua 7:10-12,25-26

A. Title to today’s message is Restoration.

  1. Achan’s theft at Jericho violated God’s covenant; He abandoned them in battle at Ai.
  2. 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)
  3. God’s anger subsided, then it was time to return to battle at Ai—with His help!
  4. Joshua 8:18 (NLT)— Then the Lord said to Joshua, “…I will hand the town over to you.”
  5. 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)

  1. 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 miles away] , for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land.”
  2. God, who caused the Israelites’ previous defeat by Ai, declared they would now succeed.
  3. 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.]
  4. 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?]
  5. APP.: Do you trust God to give to you what is best for you? (Matthew 6:33)
  6. Joshua 8:3-8 (NLT)— 3 … 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 your orders.” [Follow God’s directions!]
  7. This plan from God relied on the over-confidence of Ai’s soldiers to defeat Israel again.
  8. 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.
  9. Joshua 8:9-13 (NLT)— 9 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 night. [!] 10 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] 13 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.
  10. 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.
  11. The most significant difference was God collapsing the walls at Jericho, but not at Ai.
  12. God does not always lead in the same way, even in similar situations.
  13. He will give differing directions and divergent tactics, even involving the same person.
  14. His methods change based on who He is working with and what they need to learn.
  15. 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!
  16. APP.: Do you seek God’s fresh instruction in each new challenge? (Proverbs 3:5-6)

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)

  1. Joshua 8:14-17 (NLT)— 14 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 [involved] who did not chase after the Israelites, and the town was left wide open.
  2. Like Ai, pride in ourselves and our accomplishments can blind us and lead us to defeat.
  3. Joshua 8:18-20, 22, 25-27 (NLT)— 18 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.
    20 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. …
    22 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.] 28 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.]
  4. 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.
  5. 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.]
  6. Joshua destroyed Ai’s enemies, by following God’s instructions, and holding out his spear.
  7. 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, without compromises.
  8. 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 prescribes.
  9. 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; James 4:7–10)

  1. Joshua 8:30-33 (NLT)— 30 Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal. [20mi.N. of Ai] 31 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.” [Exodus 20:25] 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
    33 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]
  2. This ceremony was a renewal of Israel’s covenant with God, which was broken by Achan.
  3. A covenant is more than a contract; it’s a permanent agreement over a person’s total being.
  4. “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).
  5. The blood seals and sanctifies the people’s covenant promises to obey God's commands.
  6. This valley is a natural amphitheater with good acoustics, so the people could hear.
  7. Joshua 8:34-35 (NLT)— 34 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]
  8. 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!”).
  9. 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.)
  10. 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.
  11. Jesus’ perfect obedience to God’s law is credited to those of us who believe.
  12. We aren’t excused from obedience, but we are not judged for disobedience; Jesus was!
  13. 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]
  14. APP.: Do you need to renew your covenant with God through Jesus, our Savior?

Memory verse: Psalm 37:23–24 (NLT)— 23 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.

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