Now the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Jericho and its king; you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city behind it.”
So Joshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Joshua chose… commanded them,…ambush the city (a stronghold) …all of you be ready. Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out to meet us…rise from your ambush (reading the word and prayer are ambushes against the enemy) and take possession of the city (stronghold), for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand. …when you have seized…you shall set the city (stronghold) on fire. …but Joshua spent that night among the people.
Now Joshua rose early in the morning and mustered (assembled) the people…all the people of war who were with him went up…(Ai) went out to meet Israel in battle, …they left the city unguarded and pursued Israel.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin (small sword) that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” So Joshua stretched out the javelin (a type of the word of God)…they ran and entered the city and captured it, and they quickly set the city on fire. But they took alive the king of Ai (strong man) and brought him to Joshua. Joshua 8:1-23 NASB (Please read vv. 1-23, only selected portions shown)
The Lord did not allow the Israelites to rest after victory at Jericho and defeat at Ai. We saw the holy judgment of God at Jericho on the Canaanites and on Achan to cleanse the nation of Israel of disobedience. The Lord now comes to Joshua and speaks to him, “Do not fear or be dismayed.” He was to gather the warriors, rise for war and go up to Ai to take the city for God. He gave the same promise as at Jericho “I have given into your hand….” Everything was promised to Joshua: its spoil and its cattle as plunder (rewards) for Israel unlike Jericho. The men of war were ready to move at a moment’s notice under the command of Joshua, a type of Christ.
So Joshua rose to go to war, made the selection of the men of war, gave them the detailed instructions from the Lord and carefully followed the approach in which Ai was to be taken by ambush. A majority of the warriors were to move by night, hide until morning as instructed, wait to participate in the ruse, take the city and burn it, as all the warriors of Ai chased after Joshua and a smaller number of warriors, who appeared to be fleeing from Ai, as in the first attempt to take the city.
Christians are in a holy war lead by God every day, whether we comprehend it or not. The enemy is not idle. Satan is attempting to create, occupy and maintain strong holds in our lives by daily distractions, thereby holding us captive from receiving the promises of God for our lives. If we are going to allow God to defeat the enemies that hinder our life, our family, our friends and our nation, it is going to require much from us – active and conscious obedience to God as we move in step with Him. We are to be on guard, both day and night, and obey God’s instructions received from His word and listen to the voice of the Spirit as God speaks to us during prayer.
Further, we must allow God to show us all strongholds that might linger in our life, which must be removed and burnt away by the word of God and the work of the Spirit of God in our life, so nothing remains to hinder us. The battle will be won as we are obedient to the word of God, spend time in prayer, perhaps camped out all night waiting on Him, receive His specific instructions and rise with confidence and trust Him by faith. His word instructs us to actively move forward to receive the victory of the Lord.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 NASB
No enemy is too great, and no matter the circumstances, God is for us. The enemy cannot stand against God, but will attempt to hinder us in our Christian walk, and may even succeed in distracting us from focusing our eyes upon Christ. Our hope and trust are to be in Christ and Him alone. Trials, tribulation and testing will come to us; however, Christ Jesus is interceding for us to the Father. Nothing can separate us from God’s love.
At Ai, Israel, after failing in the first attempt to take the stronghold, rose up in obedience to God, encouraged and took the city for Him. If we fail to obey God and suffer defeat, He is faithful, if we repent, to restore and enable us to walk in obedience and overcome the enemy.