For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
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So Joshua sent them out. And they went to the place of ambush and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai, but Joshua spent that night among the people.
Joshua arose early in the morning and mustered the people and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.
And all the fighting men who were with him went up and drew near before the city and encamped on the north side of Ai, with a ravine between them and Ai.
He took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city.
So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city. But Joshua spent that night in the valley.
And as soon as the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the men of the city, hurried and went out early to the appointed place toward the Arabah to meet Israel in battle. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city.
And Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness.
So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua they were drawn away from the city.
Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city open and pursued Israel.
Sometimes we are so confident in our own abilities and in what we see that we too are guilty of ‘leaving the city open.’ We are susceptible to being led by what we see. God wants us to be led by Him; by the Holy Spirit which requires faith – believing in something you don’t see. The people of ‘Ai were not led by God’s Spirit but Israel was. How hard it must have been to overcome the natural fear of an enemy who had just tromped you and instead put your trust in God when you thought He, God, had left you. This is what Israel did. So we have one group trusting only in what they can see and in their own achievements running after a group trusting in God. At first glance it looks like they, Ai, are winning again. But they have left the city wide open.
We can practice the awareness of God’s presence; also an awareness of the lack of God’s leading. When we step over into self-confidence rather than God-confidence we are treading in the wrong direction and asking for defeat. We can practice moving in faith based upon God’s Word. This often is not as comfortable as relying on our own abilities. But by His Word we can be sure that placing our faith in Him will give us the victory and give God the glory. Praise be to the name of Jesus!
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