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Routed At Ai

"When they returned to Joshua, they said, "Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there." So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water." (Joshua 7:3-5)

Ai Map When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, they were the world's number one superpower - they were with God, and God was with them. They were unbeatable. The "pride of their power" was evident, but then a surprise. They were badly beaten at Ai. The defeat came as a demoralizing shock to Joshua -

"And Joshua said, "Ah, Sovereign Lord, why did You ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for Your Own Great Name?" (Joshua 7:7-9)

Joshua, not yet knowing the reason for what had happened, thought that God had somehow failed His people, but in fact, it was the other way around -

"The Lord said to Joshua, "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated My covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction." (Joshua 7:10-12)

There was an important lesson made evident at Ai, which was repeated so many times throughout Bible History, and it is more relevant now than ever - those who remain faithful to God will always triumph, while those who forsake God are going to fall.

Fact Finder: (a) What was the name of the man who was responsible for the Israelite's defeat at Ai? (b) What did he do? (c) What happened to him?
(a) Joshua 7:19 (b) Joshua 7:20-23 (c) Joshua 7:24-26


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