[Joshua 8] Gaining Ground and Taking the Spoil. In this chapter Joshua takes the city of Ai. Joshua is a type of Jesus and we can see the strategy of warfare Jesus adopted in how Joshua proceeded against the cities of Canaan. The army of Joshua was a type of the Ecclessia that Jesus promised to raise up. You and I are commissioned to be a part of this army and we can learn in studying Joshua how to operate as soldiers in the Ecclessia of God.
[Jos 8:1-35 KJV] 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: 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. 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. 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: 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, 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 15 And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 23 And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua. 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. 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. 26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua. 28 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, [even] a desolation unto this day. 29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, [that remaineth] unto this day. 30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal, 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
We saw yesterday that the children of Israel suffered a humiliating defeat at Ai because they acted presumptuously without consulting God before moving foreword. They under estimated the opposition, they didn’t sanctify themselves before the Lord and they were overconfident in their own strength. Because of this 36 men lost their lives. 36 is a multiple of 6 which is the number of man. It is 12 + 12 + 12. Twelve is the number of government. When we think we have it all figured out and we think we can control what happens there will be disappointing results.
Joshua falls on his face before God because that is how he learned from his mentor Moses. When Moses faced problems in the wilderness he would fall on his face and God would descend and work miracles to set things right. That was in the wilderness but now they are in the Promised land and things must be done differently. God tells Joshua to get up on his feet. Doing things they way it was done in the past won’t do. In the wilderness you solve your problems on your face but in the Promised land you solve your problems on your feet. Achan is discovered by inquiring of the Urim and Thummim and as a result all the host of the people are judged to be in sin. Achan dies before the Lord by stoning prefiguring for us the type and shadow of one man dying to remove the stain of sin from all the people. Hos. 2:15 calls this the “Valley of Achor – a Door of Hope”. This is no doubt what Jesus was referring to when He said in John 10:9 “I am the door…”
Now God tells Joshua to go up against Ai. This is a major chaos decision because they had just been defeated and had hardly buried their dead. Remember that of the Seven Spirits of God the primary one is the “Spirit of the Lord”. God never runs from a fight and He never does an end run around the devil. When you beg God to get you out of a situation He will answer the prayer but only have removing the reason why you wanted to run in the first place. So to the chagrin of the people and of Joshua they are to go back to Ai. There is a difference this time regarding the spoil. At Jericho they were to give all the spoil to the Lord and burn the rest. In this case they will take the spoil to themselves. Ai means a “a heap”. It was a garbage dump for Jericho. It was what was left after Jericho had brought everything that was precious protectively behind its walls. Where is your portion? Where is your blessing? You will find your blessing by understanding that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and no one is disposable.
The strategy to take Ai is to lie in wait behind the city and entice them into ambush. The church is always attempting a frontal assault against the world and it never works. Holding placards declaring “the end is near” – getting involved in politically obnoxious campaigns that only make the people of God look like narrow minded bigots and backward thinking obscurantists. This has always been the case for the church throughout history (“If God had meant for man to fly he would have given them wings. I wouldn’t have a computer in my house it is part of the anti-Christ” etc., etc.) God has a better way – take the enemy by surprise. The army was to position themselves not between Jericho and Ai but between Bethel and Ai. Jericho means “moon”. What does the moon represent? The moon represents REFLECTED LIGHT. We only see the moon because it reflects the light of the sun. This speaks of TELLING people ABOUT Jesus. (As compared to DEMONSTRATING who Jesus is and who God is). Bethel means “House of God”. To take Ai from Bethel means “I’m not talking about the kingdom – I am bringing the kingdom TO YOU – and demanding DO YOU GIVE UP! By demonstrating and modeling for lost humanity what the kingdom looks like and acts like!” You don’t have to talk about what you demonstrate!
What are we to do with the world that opposed the kingdom of God? Put it to the edge of the sword. What sword – the sword of the word of God. The only solution is to slay the men of Ai. Remember the words of Paul as the only solution to the condition of lost humanity:
[Gal 2:19-20 KJV] 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
You cannot offer Jesus as a condiment or seasoning to the life that the lost are living. Remember that they are children of the devil. The devil knows and they instinctively know that something in them must die in order to come to the kingdom.
Remember that Joshua is a type of Jesus. Joshua set 5000 men to attack Ai and Jesus said he would raise up an Ecclessia. An Ecclessia is not a sewing circle like most churches today or a religious glee club. In Jesus day it was universally understood that an Ecclessia was an army. It was an army of 6000 men. The significance of this was not lost on those that Jesus spoke to and it wasn’t coincidence that this so closely paralleled what Jesus did. Jesus read the book of Joshua. It was His battle plan. The question I have for you is are you staying behind with the stuff or are you joining the battle?
In vs, 25-35, Joshua summoned the liers in wait by lifting up his spear. Interesting that the final act of the crucifixion was accomplished with the lifting up of a spear. The soldier who wielded it was so astonished by what happened next that he declared “surely this was the son of God…” Joshua lifted his spear and the army attacked. What are you waiting for? You don’t need to wait on some obscure signal or leading to move forward. The spear has been lifted.
The cross is your signal to move ahead. Joshua in the aftermath of the battle hangs the king of Ai. Ai has its king. He rules over the cult of celebrity. He is the pseudo sophisticated, mocking spirit that laughs sarcastically at you because you are a person of faith. When Jesus hung on the tree it was Satan who lost his power. We are simply the mop up crew taking the spoil from the ash heap of misfits and refuse everyone else has rejected. The next thing Joshua did was build and altar and inscribe the words of the law upon it. Jesus defeated Satan and didn’t build an altar of stones but an altar of LIVELY STONES as Peter said. Joshua built this altar at Ai – at the junkyard! Jesus builds us as lively stones inscribed with the word of God in the shadow of the ash heap of life for all those who come crawling out of their lives of desperation