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Defeat at Ai (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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October 2, 2020 6:00 am

Defeat at Ai (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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October 2, 2020 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the Book of Joshua (Joshua 7)

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I better send in a corps, armies of men to deal with my flesh. There's one of the great lessons that comes out of this book of Joshua. It is not what their approach was. This is lightweight stuff.

It is not. No invasion is lightweight and certainly dealing with the flesh is never lightweight. We've got this, we don't.

And if we do manage to pull it off, we're set up for the next time because we've gotten a little cocky. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Joshua chapter 7 as he begins his message Defeat at Ai. Joshua chapter 7, Defeat at Ai. Now, in chapters 6 through 9, we have the three first battles of the Jews in the Promised Land. Jericho, as we discussed, represents in type, aside from the historical event itself and other lessons and applications that come from it, but it represents the world. Ready to resist God's people and it has to be overcome more by faith than by fighting. There was fighting in Jericho, but it was the faith, it was trusting God, obeying God that really brought the victory. It was a big army in Jericho waiting for the Jews and God's plan is what allowed them to conquer that city. Then Ai, which we will be discussing this evening, it represents the flesh.

The word means ruin in the Hebrew. The flesh is not easy to defeat, as we're going to find out with Ai, and is very easy to underestimate. The lessons, they abound. They just burst off the pages.

When you see it this way, it's like it's right there. The flesh, as with Ai, has to be overcome by a big force, not just a little bit of energy and attention and strength. A big invasion needs to take place. We won't get that until chapter 8.

I'll take time to discuss, hopefully, the merits of having big battalions, big regiments, big divisions, corps and armies to get things done for the kingdom. The Gibeonites will get them in chapter 9. They, in type, represent the devil because they deceived Joshua. They sounded so believable, so convincing.

They had all of the false proofs in front of them. The real items, they just were false in their representation, and they are overcome by dependence on God. And so you take the three, the world, the devil, and the flesh, and just an overview of them very quickly has something, I think, to do with all of us. The devil represents the unseen world that rejects God, full out rejection. The world represents the visible world that rejects God, full out. And, of course, the flesh. The flesh is me.

It is not unseen. It is everything in me that rejects God, full out. And there is nothing going to change any of this until Christ returns.

That is how it is, and it's good to learn these lessons as best we can. So verse 1 now, but the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things. For Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdai, the son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah, took the accursed things, so the anger of Yahweh burned against the children of Israel.

Ominous word, but. Well, it's a disjunctive that is joined to the preceding verse of the preceding chapter. In Joshua chapter 6, Yahweh was with Joshua. This is after they, of course, conquered Jericho. His fame spread throughout all the country. Incidentally, that fame spreading throughout all of Canaan, that was the army's rallying, waiting for the Jews to come attack them so they could fight back.

It wasn't they were putting up posters. Yay, Joshua, what a hero. Anyway, Yahweh gave them the victory. Joshua, now everybody knows he's a serious leader, but that's how it goes. Joshua won Jericho, but. You went to church, but.

Fill in the blank. But the children of Israel committed a trespass. Well, as we read the story, you can say it wasn't the children of Israel, Lord, it was just one family. But there's a significance to it all. So that ominous word offsets the victory at Jericho.

Jericho, extremely well did the operation go to bring down that enemy, but there's always a spoiler, it seems, very seldom is it ever just a clean-cut win. As pastor, I get some Sundays, they are better than other Sundays, but there always seems to be one little thing that just. Maybe it's somebody with a snarky remark. Maybe it's, you know, just somebody having a big problem in their life and it just stays on.

But sometimes it's so that's life, though, whether pastor or not, I just using me could be the same way with you. You have a stellar week. And then there's one fly in the ointment. Well, there was one here.

Jericho went extremely well, except, but there's something else. Case of one man sin grieving everybody, the entire nation, one guy. Too often is one selfishly driven individual that upsets everybody else, takes the wind out of everyone's sail. If they would just not do that, if you could just put them out of the picture, everybody would really be all right. Now, I'm not talking about someone you just don't like.

I mean, it has to be something you can say, this is wrong and here's the evidence, not speculation. King Saul was such a man, took all the wind out of Israel's sail. Simon Magnus, there's this great revival going on and there he is looking to profit from the Holy Spirit. And then here it is Achan. And his pedigree is clearly marked out. Carmi, Zabdai, Zerah, excellent children's names.

For some of you that think they're all the good ones are taken, go with one of those. And incidentally, almost none of these names are pronounced the way we pronounce them in the Hebrew. Even Achan, we're not even close, like Akan or something like that.

So, and you get a lot of ach in it. Be careful. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, his tribe, all shamed because of his sin. It says of the tribe of Judah, he took the accursed thing. Well, that was because we discussed last session, all the precious metals belong to God.

This was the first victory, the first spoils went to him. So the anger of Yahweh burned against the children of Israel because it was not addressed. You say, well, wait a minute, no one knew about this except God and the family of Achan.

Why does everybody have to pay? As leading up to the story, it's just the heading, the overview, we get to the details, some of the details in a minute, but you say, why is God so stern? Why didn't he just go after Achan? Well, knowing how difficult it was to hold the Jews together under God as we look at their history from the days of Jacob, all the way to Malachi, into the life of Christ and the Book of Acts, you say, look how difficult it was to hold them to God. What if God was less stern?

It would have been worse. So God, he made an impression on enough people to contribute to the nation's faithfulness. This is not fair. This is a divine prerogative and those come with great meaning all the time whether we discover the meanings or not, like the life of Job. Why pick on Job?

Job was righteous and God knew what he was doing when he allowed what he did and over the ages so many people have benefited and been strengthened because of a man like Job and have served the kingdom and have not given up the fight. We go now to verse 2. Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Avon on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them saying, go up and spy out the country. So the men went up and spied out Ai.

Apparently wasting no time. Characteristic of Joshua, gets right to it as soon as he can. And it's brought out, it says, and Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, giving the Canaanites less and less time to rally their forces to come to help Ai. He says, which is beside Beth Avon on the east side of Bethel. Well, Bethel means house of God. It's significant. It factors into the history of the Jews. Abraham, we're told in Genesis, he built an altar between Bethel and Ai.

Sacrificed there twice that we know of in his lifetime. But Beth Avon is the house of nothing or the house of idols, the house of vanity. Likely a place where they sacrificed to idols.

That was what was going on there. Verse 3, and they returned to Joshua and said to him, do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few. Good intelligence, bad advice. It was not their assignment to advise. They were to come back with the information. This was a reconnaissance, a recon team goes out, says, this is what we found. They should have left it right there and Joshua should have stopped them.

In hindsight, of course. But if you're a modern day military commander, this is an excellent section, a manual of sorts that you could look at and say, here's not how to do it. What the spies are saying, troop reduction. Well, commanders don't want to reduce troops. This is an unjustified concern because of their position.

There's lessons in this too because as we go about our business as Christians, we have to be careful that we're taking the information and not unnecessarily or reducing our strength in an unjustified way. Also, they're underestimating the enemy. This is an invasion. It is not two armies meeting on the battlefield of a, what's the word I want, relative equal size.

This is a fortress, a fortified city, and invasion forces need to be big. And again, that will come out in next session. They meant well, of course, but militarily speaking, and which I'm interested in as a Christian because my life is a military event where we are soldiers in Christ. We even say we're prayer warriors.

We use these metaphor to describe what we're supposed to be doing, whether we live up to those metaphor or not, or mindful enough of them is another matter. But so Joshua has the information. When he gets to that place of hindsight, he's going to say, I should not have listened, and he's going to, he's sending, he's going to send in a regiment. A regiment's about 3,000 men.

They're going to get beaten when he, he's going to then send 10 times that when he takes AI, which would be a core size of two divisions. And that, to me, as I mull over that, I say, that's my flesh. If I'm going to fight my flesh, I better not send in a platoon or a battalion or a regiment.

I better send in a core, armies of men to deal with my flesh. And there's one of the great lessons that comes out of this book of Joshua. It is not what their approach was. This is lightweight stuff.

It is not. No invasion is lightweight, and certainly dealing with the flesh is never lightweight. And the instant we think I got this, we don't. And if we do manage to pull it off, we're set up for the next time because we've gotten a little cocky. Now, a lot of the commentators say that the Jews were a little cocky here, but I don't find that. I think they just meant, well, why bring in all the troops? We can take this place.

I don't think there's any pride here. That's my take. Verse 4, so about 3,000 men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. So they underestimated the resistance, as we again do with the flesh.

But they fled before the men of ruin. Retreat is always demoralizing. You can never say, well, look on the bright side, we made it. You can say that, I guess, but you still got to war to fight or you just retreat, you got to regroup, or you suffer complete breakdown, failure.

You'll be captured or killed or worse, both. So in this case, sin was the cause of defeat and retreat. And the mistakes, they did contribute to poor judgment.

They did contribute to it. But overall, it was the sin. Verse 5, and the men of Ai struck down about 36 men, for they chased them from before the gates, as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent.

Therefore, the hearts of the people melted and became like water. Do you know there is a right way to retreat and there's a wrong way to retreat? The wrong way to retreat is to turn your back on the enemy and run as fast as you can. You're very likely going to be shot in the back. The right way is to continue facing the enemy while you're moving away from them, shooting back.

And this is an example of doing it the wrong way. And it says they were struck down on the descent, therefore, the hearts of the people, et cetera. This battlefield created conditions that may have been a little sketchy. Because when I read this, I say, why does Joshua say about 36?

Hey, you were there. There was certainly going to be a body count. We don't know how many families are going to be grieving.

Why about 36? Well, some may have been wounded and not likely going to recover from their wounds, but yet not succumb to the wound. So that would account for that. And then on the other hand, as we read in other battles in the scripture, the terrain itself may have taken out a few. A guy running from the enemy accidentally runs off a cliff. He's so panic-stricken, and they don't want to chalk that one up to the enemy's military prowess.

So that's, I don't know, it might not bother you, but it bothers me when I say, why about 36? This is the only defeat of the invading forces of the Jews recorded in the Book of Joshua. Now, there are others implied, but this is the only one recorded, and it is the only report of Jews actually dying in combat. And it adds to the power of God's will and the battle at hand.

Ultimately, his people prevail, and that is what has held up before us. It's sort of like in the New Testament. We don't read about all of the shortcomings of the apostles, not like we read about the shortcomings of the prophets and kings in the book in the Old Testament.

And, you know, even the great powerful prophet Elijah running for his life, you know, just kill me. The Bible records those things, but you come to the New Testament, and the only person that really kept messing up was Peter, as far as the apostles go. And how many lessons come out of that? Talk about why God records this and that, why he does it the way he does it. Well, the record is there.

It's for him to know and for us to find out. He says, therefore, the hearts of the people, in verse 5, melted and became like water. Well, how quickly, how quickly we do crumble and poorly we handle setbacks. I mean, imagine just backing your truck up into a pole or something, or hitting one out in a parking lot. I mean, the first person I went to when I banged my truck bumper was God. Lord, why? Why did you let me hit that? Well, I don't have a driver's license.

You do. It's just, it was involuntary. Because, you know, the people of God were always talking to him, and he's just a part of everything that goes wrong, in some way or another. So we show our faith by the way we bear undesirable things. And you would like to see, in this case, that they strengthened themselves in the Lord. That would have been the ideal first response.

It just would not have been human. Even David, when, of course, he was off fighting in Ziklag, and the camp was raided by the Amalekites, and they come back. They wept till there was no strength. They wanted to stone David.

And then David strengthened himself in the Lord. He recovered. And they're going to recover.

But again, more lessons for us for when we take hits. Usually the initial response is complete breakdown. Our hearts become melted like water, and then we regroup.

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of Yahweh until evening. He and the elders of Israel, and they put dust on their heads. This is leadership's response. It is a proper response. They go to the Lord. Instead of saying, what we need are more troops, and let's go at it again.

We can do this boys. No, they go to God, and they're very serious. They get to God, and they are just talk about my soul follows hard after you, as it says in the Psalms.

It says until evening. We are not sure of the starting point, but the implication is they were there a long time. Joshua is devastated by this. Coming off the great victory, all the concerns he had about how to take Jericho, then taking Jericho, trusting his intelligence reports. We can take this place, and all of this is going as 36 families now without a father or brother or whatever the case may be, and he's just devastated, but he's not by himself. There are others that are with Joshua, and they're not saying, how could you do this?

Why did you listen to them? No, they're right there with him before the Lord. This makes, I guess, it so shameful when we as Christians don't behave this way.

The lessons are here. I love that these men were not turning on Joshua, that they said, okay, let's just go to the Lord together. Verse 7, and Joshua said, we'll pause there, just like they said. Anybody's against you, Joshua. Remember in chapter 1, the Reubenites and two and a half tribes. Anybody that messes with you is going to mess with us.

We're going to deal with them. Well, here, they're living up to the promise as a people, verse 7. And Joshua said, alas, Lord Yahweh, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan. So this devastation that I mentioned that is evident in verse 6, it's just, it's just outpouring from this great man of God.

What did you do to us? He's not the only one. Jeremiah will do the same thing. I mean, he's not the only one in the Bible that says, God, what is happening here? And he's not the only one, you're not the only one in the church that has messed up things in your life from time to time. Are you going to God? What is going on?

What about all the promises? I just heard a sermon on how you, you know, I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, and I'm trembling here. Well, alas, exclamatory, expresses pain.

How could this be? There's a sob in that word, alas. The great regret, a lot of emotions are just all over the place by what God had allowed to happen to them. Joshua says, what do we do? He's going to find out. And he doesn't say when he finds out, as I would have said, why didn't you tell us before the fight?

Why did you hold that back? Joshua will not talk back to God that way. He wanted no part of the defeat. If the Lord was with him, he just couldn't, he couldn't make heads or tails out of this whole thing.

And he felt no doubt, as any leader would feel, a parent would feel responsible somehow. This is my fault. And that's not always true. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it's your fault, but so what? We've got to still resolve this thing. No sense in crying over spilled chocolate milk. Alright, that's the first corny one of the night. I'm allowed one.

Pastor zero. No, anyway. Oh, that we had been content and dwelt on the other side of Jordan. Again, you can't miss the hurt, the pathos in that. If I knew then what I know now, I never would have crossed this Jordan. Yes, you would have, Joshua, because you've got that kind of man with the Lord. You can tell yourself whatever you want.

You would have crossed over. You can say I'm going to retire. I'm done with all of this.

No, you're not. You're going to do just what God tells you to do because you're that kind of man or that kind of woman in the Lord. And so he's going to get God is going to let him just let it out.

God lets Joshua just run with it. Get it out, kid. That's right. Get it out. You get it out.

Get up. That's where this is going. And he doesn't know, you know, what's going to happen on the other side of the river. The past was certain. He knew what he had is done. But on this side, he doesn't know what's coming.

It's not true. And be the way, because on the other side of the river, there would have been struggles there also. So this extremely discouraged, just a breath away from faithlessness and not wanting to go any go forward anymore. And that's what his words are saying.

We could have stayed on the other side. Genuine case of discouragement. It's enough to blind us. Thanks for tuning in to Cross Reference Radio for this study in the book of Joshua. Cross Reference is the teaching ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia. If you're interested in more information about this ministry, please visit our Web site, crossreferenceradio.com.

You'll find additional teachings from Pastor Rick available there. We also encourage you to subscribe to our podcast. By doing so, you'll be notified of each new edition of Cross Reference Radio. Just search for Cross Reference Radio in iTunes, Google Play Music or your favorite podcast app. You can also follow the links at crossreferenceradio.com. We're glad we were able to spend time with you today. Tune in next time to continue learning from the book of Joshua right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-25 01:43:58 / 2024-02-25 01:53:38 / 10

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