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Lessons from Ai

Lessons from Ai


No, this is not another warning of the dangers of Artificial Intelligence.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Whatever was written in earlier times was written

for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of

the Scriptures, we might have hope.” - Rom 15:4

Let’s go back and look at the story written in Joshua chapters 6 - 8. At the

beginning of the conquest of Canaan, God gave Jericho to Joshua and the

Israelites in an amazing manner. To borrow an old line from ABC’s Wide

World of Sports, they enjoyed “The thrill of victory.”

However it was soon followed by “The agony of defeat!” God had given

specific instructions that no plunder was to be taken from Jericho. One

man, Achan, ignored that and took a cloak and some silver and gold and

hid them in his tent.

The conquest of Jericho was such a success that Joshua only felt the need

to send 3000 men to take the next city - Ai. To everyone’s surprise, the

men of Ai completely repulsed this force and sent them in retreat. When

Joshua sought an explanation from God, he was told that Israel was being

punished because someone had stolen some of the things under the ban.

When Achan was identified as the culprit, he and his children were stoned

to death and burned. Once the sin was removed, a second attack against Ai

was a complete success! Now, consider some lessons that we can glean

from that narrative:


We cannot hide our sin from God!


Apparently Joshua and nearly all of the people were completely unaware of

what Achan had done, but “The eyes of the Lord are in every place,

beholding the evil and the good.” - Prov 15:3 Recall Moses’ earlier warning

to Israel: “If you have sinned against the LORD . . . be sure your sin will

find you out. - Num 32:23


The sinner often does not perish alone!


Achan’s sons and daughters were killed, but many other innocent Israelites

lost their lives in the failed attempt to take Ai.

Years later Israel was reminded, “Did not Achan the son of Zerah act

unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and wrath fell on all the

congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.”

- Josh 22:20


How Achan fell into sin!


Achan: “I saw among the spoil . . I coveted them . . I took them.” - Josh 7:21

That sounds much like Eve in the Garden of Eden. She saw that the tree

was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree

was desirable to make one wise . . . she took from its fruit and ate. - Gen 3:6

Satan is a master at working this exact scheme over and over. Success or

failure depends on God’s blessing. This was demonstrated time and again

throughout Israel’s history. A dramatic example of this was Moses’ hands

during the battle with Amalek. - Exodus 17 God had promised Joshua,

“No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I

have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”

- Josh 1:5

But two verses later God also told him, “Do not turn from it [God’s law] to

the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.” -

Josh 1:7


Yesterday’s triumph does not guarantee victory today. Joshua and his men

were full of confidence, but they were “resting on their laurels” because of

Jericho. Ai was another, very different, story! We need to have the attitude

Paul expressed in Phil 3:13-14, “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching

forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the

upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”


Failure does not have to be final!


When God was with them Israel once again experienced “The thrill of

victory.” Unfortunately our lives are full of failures. Henry Ford once said,

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” If we will

make the necessary changes, failure can often be turned into success.

- Leonard White



Tools in His Hand

I was watching a man paint a building the other day, and I got to thinking

about it. What a nice job he was doing. He was using a very good,

professional paintbrush. I wondered if after the building was painted the

brush might climb down from the ladder and say, “That’s a very nice job I

just did!” No, when paintbrushes are through they just lie down by the

paint can. It’s the painter who looks back and admires the nice job he has

done, right?

Well, in our lives, God is the painter, and we are the paintbrushes. We need

to be careful about taking credit for what God does. He accomplishes it

through us, but we’re just the instrument… that’s all. It is not what we

accomplish, but what God accomplishes through us, that really matters.

- Selected