The Sin of Achan
7 But the Israelites broke faith concerning the devoted things. Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took from the devoted things; and Yahweh’s anger was kindled against the Israelites.
2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven, east of Bethel, and he said to them, “Go up and spy out Ai.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up and attack Ai; only two or three thousand men should go up because they are few. Do not make all the people weary up there.” 4 So about three thousand from the people went up there, and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them, and they chased them from the gate up to Shebarim and killed them on the slope. And the hearts of the people melted and became like water.
6 And Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the ground on his face before the ark of Yahweh until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Ah, my Lord! Why did you bring this people across the Jordan to give us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content and stayed beyond the Jordan. 8 Please, my Lord! What can I say after Israel has fled from its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of this, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the land. What will you do, for your great name?”
10 And Yahweh said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned and transgressed my covenant that I commanded them. They have taken from the devoted things; they have stolen and acted deceitfully, and they have put them among their belongings. 12 The Israelites were unable to stand before their enemies; they fled from their enemies because they have become a thing devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13 Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow. Thus says Yahweh the God of Israel: “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You will be unable to stand before you enemies until you remove the devoted things from your midst.” 14 In the morning you will come forward, tribe by tribe, and the tribe that Yahweh will select by lot will come forward by clans, and the clan that Yahweh selects by lot will come forward by families, and the family that Yahweh selects by lot will come forward one by one. 15 The one caught with the devoted things will be burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him, because he transgressed the covenant of Yahweh, and because he did a disgraceful thing in Israel.” ’ ”
16 So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought forward Israel, tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was selected by lot. 17 And he brought forward the clans of Judah and selected the clan of the Zerahites by lot. Then he brought forward the clan of the Zerahites, one by one, and Zabdi was selected by lot. 18 He brought forward his family, one by one, and Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was selected by lot. 19 And Joshua said to Achan, “My son, please, give glory to Yahweh the God of Israel, and give him a doxology in court. Tell me, please, what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20 And Achan answered Joshua and said, “It is true. I have sinned against Yahweh the God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 I saw among the spoil a beautiful robe from Shinar, two hundred shekels of silver, and one bar of gold that weighed fifty shekels; I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, and the silver is under it.”
22 Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there they were, hidden in his tent, and the silver was under it. 23 And they took them from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. And they spread them out before the presence of Yahweh. 24 Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons and daughters, his cattle and donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and everything that was his, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, “Why did you bring us trouble? Yahweh will bring you trouble on this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they stoned them with stones. 26 Then they placed on top of him a great pile of stones that remains to this day. And Yahweh turned from his burning anger, and thus the name of that place to this day is called the valley of Achor.
Ai Is Destroyed
8 Then Yahweh said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you and go up immediately to Ai. Look, I am giving into your hand the king of Ai, his city, and his land. 2 You will do to Ai and its king that which you did to Jericho and its king; you may take only its spoils and livestock as booty for yourself. Set for yourself an ambush against the city from behind it.”
3 So Joshua and all the fighting men went up immediately to Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand of the best fighting men and sent them by night. 4 And he commanded them, saying, “Look, you are to lay an ambush against the city from behind. Do not go very far from the city and be ready. 5 Then I and all of the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they go out to meet us as before, we will flee from them. 6 They will come out after us until we draw them away from the city, because they will think, ‘They are fleeing from us as before.’ So we will flee from them. 7 Then you will rise up from the ambush and take possession of the city, for Yahweh your God will give it into your hand. 8 And when you capture the city you will set it on fire as Yahweh commanded. Look, I have commanded you.” 9 So Joshua sent them out, and they went to the place of the ambush, and they sat between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai; but Joshua spent the night with the people.
10 Joshua rose early in the morning and mustered the people, and he went up with the elders of Israel before the people of Ai. 11 All the fighting men who were with him went up and drew near before the city and camped north of Ai; there was a valley between him and Ai. 12 And he took about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13 So they stationed the forces; all the army was north of the city while the rear guard was west. But Joshua went that night to the middle of the valley. 14 When the king of Ai saw this, the men of the city hurried and rose early and went out to meet Israel for battle—he and all his army—to the meeting place before the Arabah. He did not know that there was an ambush for him behind the city. 15 Then Joshua and all Israel acted like they were beaten before them, and they fled in the direction of the wilderness. 16 All of the people who were in the city were called to pursue after them. As they pursued after Joshua, they were drawn away from the city. 17 Not a man remained in Ai or Bethel who had not gone out after Israel; they left the city open and pursued after Israel.
18 And Yahweh said to Joshua, “Stretch out the sword that is in your hand to Ai, because I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the sword that was in his hand to the city. 19 The moment he stretched out his hand, those in the ambush stood up quickly from their place and ran. And they went into the city and captured it, quickly setting the city ablaze with fire. 20 Then the men of Ai looked behind them, and they saw smoke from the city rising to the sky; they had no power to flee this way or that, and the people fleeing the wilderness turned around to the pursuers. 21 And Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city and that the smoke of the city was rising; they returned and struck down the men of Ai. 22 Then the others from the city came out to meet them, and they found themselves surrounded by Israel, some on one side, and others on the other side. And they struck them down until no survivor or fugitive was left. 23 But they captured the king of Ai alive, and they brought him to Joshua.
24 When Israel finished slaughtering all the inhabitants of Ai in the open field, in the wilderness where they pursued them, and when all of them had fallen by the edge of the sword until they all had perished, all Israel returned to Ai and attacked it with the edge of the sword. 25 All the people that fell on that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand—all the inhabitants of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back his hand that was stretched out with the sword until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as booty for themselves, according to the word of Yahweh that Joshua commanded. 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it an everlasting heap of rubbish, a desolate place until this day. 29 The king of Ai he hanged on a tree until the time of evening, and as the sun went down Joshua commanded them, and they brought down his dead body from the tree. Then they threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and they raised over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.
Israel Renews the Covenant
30 Then Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal for Yahweh the God of Israel, 31 as Moses Yahweh’s servant commanded the Israelites, as it is written in the scroll of the law of Moses: “an altar of unhewn stones on which no one has wielded an iron implement.” And they offered burnt offerings on it and sacrificed fellowship offerings. 32 And there Joshua wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written, in the presence of the Israelites. 33 Then all Israel, foreigner as well as native, with the elders, officials, and judges stood on either side of the ark before the priests and the Levites, who carried the ark of the covenant of Yahweh. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim, and the other half in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses Yahweh’s servant had commanded before to bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the curses, according to all that was written in the scroll of the law. 35 There was not a word from all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before the assembly of all Israel, and the women, the little children, and the traveling foreigners among them.
Paul’s Ministry Defended
10 Now I, Paul, appeal to you myself by the humility and gentleness of Christ, who when I am present in person am humble among you, but when I am absent am bold toward you—2 now I ask when I am present that I will not need to be bold with the confidence with which I propose to show boldness toward some who consider us as behaving according to the flesh. 3 For although we are living in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but powerful to God for the tearing down of fortresses, tearing down arguments 5 and all pride that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 6 And we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is completed.
7 You are looking at things according to appearance. If anyone is convinced he himself is Christ’s, he should consider this concerning himself again: that just as Christ himself is, so also are we. 8 For even if I boast somewhat more about our authority that the Lord gave us for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be put to shame,
1 Hear this, all you peoples;
give ear, all you inhabitants of the world,
2 both low and high,
rich and poor together.
3 My mouth will speak wisdom,
and the meditation of my heart will be understanding.
4 I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will propound my riddle on a lyre.
5 Why should I fear in times of calamity,
when iniquity surrounds me at my heels,
6 those who trust their wealth
and boast about the abundance of their riches?
7 Surely a man cannot redeem a brother.
He cannot give to God his ransom
8 (since the redemption price for their life is costly
and it always fails),
9 so that he may stay alive forever
and not see the pit.
10 For he sees that the wise die,
together with the fool and brute they perish,
and leave their wealth to the next generation.
11 Within them they think their houses are forever,
their dwelling places from generation to generation.
They name their lands by their own names.
12 But man cannot continue in his pomp.
He is like the beasts that perish.
13 This is the journey of those who have foolish confidence,
and those after them who accept their sayings. Selah
14 Like sheep they are destined to Sheol;
death will shepherd them.
But the upright will rule over them in the morning,
and their forms will be for Sheol to consume,
far from his lofty abode.
15 Surely God will ransom my life
from the power of Sheol,
because he will receive me. Selah
16 Do not fear when a man becomes rich,
when the wealth of his house increases,
17 because when he dies he will not take away any of it.
His wealth will not follow down after him.
18 Though he congratulated his soul while he was living
—and people will praise you when you do well for yourself—
19 it will go to the generation of his fathers.
Never will they see light.
20 Humankind in its pomp, but does not understand,
is like the beasts that perish.
We often hear a great misnomer about following God’s will. It usually sounds something like this: “God has commanded me to do x, so I’m going to go into x blindly without fear.” A phrase like this has elements of great truth—faith should carry us. But it’s missing a piece.
Sometimes God instructs us to follow Him quickly and blindly. When that’s the case, we should certainly do it. However, His commands should almost always be combined with the abilities that He has given us, including logic and rationality. We have to find the balance. If we get too rational, it can be at the detriment of God’s will; we can reason ourselves out of taking the risks God wants us to take.
Joshua, the leader of the Israelites after Moses, is a great example of proper behavior within God’s will. He learned from Moses and led out of that strength and experience, but he was led by the Spirit (Deut 34:9–12). He also did the proper legwork, even though he knew that God had guaranteed success if he and the people were faithful.
We see a glimpse into this strategy in Josh 7:2–5, the battle of Ai. Joshua sent spies into enemy territory before invading it. He then paced the troops by sending only a small regiment at first (Josh 7:3). Despite his proper behavior, Joshua was unsuccessful because of the people’s disobedience (Josh 7:1).
After this, we see the pain that Joshua felt as a result of the people’s spiritual failures (Josh 7:6–9). Yahweh didn’t allow for this to continue, though, because He was aware of the root cause of the problem; God called Joshua to find it and change it, so he did (Josh 7:10–26).
Joshua shows us what it means to follow God’s will: receive a call, be trained, act out of wisdom and preparation, accept defeat when it comes, seek Yahweh’s will again to fix it, and then confront the problem head on. The result: success (Josh 8:1–29). Following their victory, Joshua rededicated himself and those he led to Yahweh (Josh 8:30–35).
If we understood how to function within God’s will, we would be much more successful for God. We would see great and miraculous things happen. And this understanding is not just reserved for the leader, but for all people.
What patterns of following God’s will do you need to change? How have you misunderstood what it means to live for Him?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.