Joshua 7

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

THE DEFEAT AT AI

INTRODUCTION:

 

We are in the process of looking at the conquest of Canaan which extends from 5:13 - 12:24.

 

We have seen the introduction of the Divine Commander in 5:13-15, and we are in the process of looking at the central campaign. We have seen the conquest at Jericho in chapter 6 and in this message will be looking at the defeat at Ai in 7:1-26.

 

I remind you of some instructions which were given to the Israelites in Joshua 6:17-19 .

 

Joshua 6:17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

 

Joshua 6:18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from [i.e. keep yourselves away from, abstain from] the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it [i.e. bring trouble on it].

 

Joshua 6:19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.

 

The fact that the city of Jericho was accursed means that the city and everything in it was devoted to God. The idea is that the city’s contents, including all the people except Rahab and her family, were to be given over to the Lord by destroying them. The silver, gold, and vessels of brass and iron were to be brought into the treasury of the LORD. No loot was to be taken by the people.

 

Is there anything about this instruction that is not clear? No, there is not.

 

Anyone who would take something which was devoted to the Lord would bring trouble on Israel.

We see –

    I.     DISOBEDIENCE – 7:1

 

Joshua 7:1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing [i.e. the devoted things]: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing [i.e. took some of the devoted things]: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against [i.e. burned against] the children of Israel.

 

According to verse 11, Israel has transgressed my covenant which I commanded them [i.e. the LORD’s covenant]. They were supposed to obey Him, but they failed to do so. Every living thing was supposed to be put to death, and all valuable objects were to be dedicated to the LORD’s treasury. No one was to help himself to any of these valuable objects.

 

Although no one outside his family apparently knew about this, God did. Sin never escapes His notice. Although only one person committed the sin, God’s wrath was kindled against all Israel. He held Israel responsible for the sin of the one man. Sin always affects others.

As a result of disobedience comes –

  II.     DEFEAT – 7:2-5

 

Joshua 7:2 And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view [i.e. spy out] the country. And the men went up and viewed [i.e. spied out] Ai.

 

Ai was located about 15 miles northwest of Jericho.

 

Joshua 7:3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite [i.e. attack] Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither [i.e. do not weary all the people there]; for they are but few.

 

The men who went to spy out Ai were overconfident. They had never previously lost a battle. Although they said that the residents were but few, according to Joshua 8:25 , 12,000 men and women died in the successful attack on Ai. God allowed this overconfidence because He was about to allow Israel to be defeated in order to teach them a lesson they needed to learn. Israel was guilty of underestimating the strength of the enemy and of overestimating their own strength.

 

There is no mention of prayer or of dependence on God. It would cost them dearly. We are always dependent upon God and will never be victorious in our own strength. We may likewise underestimate the strength of our enemies and overestimate our own strength.

 

Ephesians 6:10-1210 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

 

I Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

 

Joshua 7:4 So there went up thither [i.e. there] of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.

 

Joshua 7:5 And the men of Ai smote [i.e. struck down] of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim [i.e. the stone quarries], and smote them in the going down [i.e. and struck them down on the descent]: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water [i.e. like water].

 

Joshua 7:6 And Joshua rent [i.e. tore] his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide [i.e. until evening], he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.

As a result of defeat comes –

 III.     DISMAY – 7:6-9

 

Joshua 7:7 And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore [i.e. why] hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God [i.e. Oh that] we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!

 

Does not Joshua’s statement seem to blame the Lord for the Israelites’ defeat?

 

Does Joshua’s thinking remind you of the statements made by the 10 spies at Kadesh Barnea?

 

Numbers 14:3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?

 

Joshua 7:8 O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!

 

 

Joshua 7:9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round [i.e. will surround us], and cut off our name from the earth [which suggests, “kill us all”]: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

 

At least Joshua was concerned for the Lord’s name and reputation.

We see that the Lord gives –

 IV.     DIRECTIONS – 7:10-15

 

Joshua 7:10 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face [i.e. why are you lying like this upon your face]?

 

Joshua 7:11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also [i.e. and deceived], and they have put it even among their own stuff.

 

The cause of the defeat was Israel, not the Lord. Defeat for God’s people is never God’s fault.

 

Until the sin was dealt with, the sin was considered the sin of the nation, not just the individual who sinned.

 

Joshua 7:12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed [i.e. they (Israel) have become accursed]: neither will I be with you [i.e. neither will I (the LORD) be with Israel] any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you [i.e. among Israel].

 

Does this not suggest that, when known sin is allowed to go on in a family or local church and not dealt with, God holds the family or local church accountable until it deals with the sin?

 

Joshua 7:13 Up [i.e. rise up, get up], sanctify [i.e. consecrate] the people, and say, Sanctify [i.e. consecrate] yourselves against to morrow [i.e. for tomorrow].

 

They would sanctify themselves by acts of purification. Notice how this was done before the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai.

 

Exodus 19:14-1514 And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at (your) wives.

 

Back to Joshua 7:13

For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.

 

There will be no victory for Israel until sin is dealt with. Likewise, when we allow sin to go on unconfessed and unforsaken, there will be no going forward with the Lord until it is taken care of, whether this is in our individual lives, in our family lives, or in our church life.

 

Joshua 7:14 In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man.

 

Joshua 7:15 And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed [i.e. violated] the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly [i.e. because he has done a disgraceful thing] in Israel.

Next, we see –

   V.     DISCOVERY – 7:16-21

 

Joshua 7:16 So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken:

 

Joshua 7:17 And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken:

 

Joshua 7:18 And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.

 

Joshua 7:19 And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.

 

Joshua 7:20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:

 

Joshua 7:21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly [i.e. beautiful] Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge [i.e. a bar] of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid [i.e. hidden, concealed] in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

 

Two hundred shekels of silver would be about 5 pounds of silver. Earlier this week silver sold for $14.22/ounce. This would be an equivalent value today of $1,137.60. On the same day, gold sold for $1,108.90/ounce. This would be an equivalent price of $22,178.00. Thus, on that day the silver and gold together would have had an equivalent value of $23,315.60.

Finally, we see –

 VI.     DEATH – 7:22-26

 

Joshua 7:22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid [i.e. hidden, concealed] in his tent, and the silver under it.

 

Joshua 7:23 And they [i.e. the messengers] took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD.

 

Joshua 7:24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge [i.e. the bar] of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.

 

Achan’s sin affected his entire family. We do not know if the members of his family were involved in his sin; but inasmuch as they were all stoned to death along with him, it suggests that they may have been.

 

Joshua 7:25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

 

Joshua 7:26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.

 

The valley of Achor is located about one mile south of Jericho.