Now it starts out very smoothly. After crossing Jordan, Joshua receives instructions to simply walk around the city of Jericho according to certain specifications. He and the Israelites obey these strange commands, and Jericho is conquered.
But as aforetime discussed on this blog, a man by the name of Achan has disobeyed the Lord. This disobedience has kindled His anger, and He has temporarily turned His back.
As the Israelites approach the city of Ai, Joshua sends out some spies and consults with them as to the abilities of the Israelites to battle this city. The spies tell him simply in 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 Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few."
But in all this discussion, there is one person Joshua forgets to consult. It is the being he should have consulted first, but instead he is left out of the situation entirely. Joshua never asks the Lord for guidance.
This mistake costs the Israelites the battle and 36 men. Without the assistance of the Lord, the Israelites are powerless to confront the people of Ai.
Now that it has become clear that the Israelites don't have the power in and of themselves to fight their battles and that the Lord didn't fight this one, Joshua goes to the Lord in prayer. The Lord tells Joshua how to remove the accursed thing from Israel.
Joshua obeys his commands. Achan is burned to death. The Lord is set to fight for his people once again. As Joshua 8:1-2 state,
"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: 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."
With the Lord's power by their side, the Israelites annihilate the children of Ai. And the power of the Lord their God is heard abroad all of Canaan.
The Gibeonites determined they didn't stand a chance against the people of Israel in battle. It was decided that their best chances of survival came from disguising themselves as travelers from a far country wishing to serve the people of the Living God. To their ears, servitude sounded better than certain death.
The plan was simple: wear old clothes, pack supplies of mouldy bread and old bottles of wine, and insist that when you left, all your provisions were new. It was a plan that could easily fool any man, but could never fool the Lord.
Yet when faced with this situation, Joshua and the other leaders of Israel again made the mistake of failing to consult the Lord. As Joshua 9:14-15 states,
"And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them."
Whoops! Here again another stumblingblock in the way of the Israelites!
Both of these situations could have well been avoided, but in both, Joshua and the leaders of Israel do not go to the Lord until AFTER they have made the mistake. This would be akin to buying a security system after a disaster strikes. Sure, it will help you with future disasters, but it fails to aid you in the disaster that passed.
Only difference is, we cannot predict natural disasters, but we are guaranteed that we will only make a problem worse if we try to handle a situation without consulting the Lord. But yet we still only seem to want to ask God to help us AFTER we have failed on our own.
How ridiculous and illogical! When faced with any situation, we must look to the Lord first. We must not wait and call out for him to handle not only the initial situation, but also the additional problem we created when we tried to handle it on our own. The lives of Joshua and the Israelites would have been much better if they had followed this simple lesson. Similarly, if we simply trusted the Lord from the get-go, asking him as soon as conflict strikes, we would avoid much difficulty.