Joshua 8:1-9

The Conquest of Ai

Now the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Jericho and its king; you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. [a]Set an ambush for the city behind it.”

So Joshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night. He commanded them, saying, “See, you are going to ambush the city from behind [b]it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out to meet us as at the first, we will flee before them. They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing before us as at the first.’ So we will flee before them. And you shall rise from your ambush and take possession of the city, for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand. Then it will be when you have seized the city, that you shall set the city on fire. You shall do it according to the word of the Lord. See, I have commanded you.” So Joshua sent them away, and they went to the place of ambush and remained between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua spent that night among the people.

There is something that Jesus said centuries later that comes to mind, and it goes something like this, “be innocent (harmless) as doves, and shrewd as snakes…” We sometimes get this idea in our heads that we are supposed to be innocent and foolish, much like a small child.

But you don’t win lost souls by being foolish. Though Paul would later say, “God chose the foolish things to shame the wise…” I think it’s likely out of context to say that we are those foolish things.

Rather, God gives us great wisdom, and His Spirit reveals to us mysteries that the world knows not. Just like Joshua and the Israelites, we are to be cunning, clever, armed to the teeth. Not with weapons of physical warfare… for our battle is not against flesh and blood… but with weapons that can bring down spiritual strongholds. We can only do this through God’s strength, it isn’t our own cunning, our own cleverness, but that given to us by God Himself.

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