A TALE OF TWO SIGNS
My loving God, You know my needs and concerns today. I bring them before You now.
Read Joshua 8:18–29
18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Hold out toward Ai the javelin that is in your hand, for into your hand I will deliver the city.” So Joshua held out toward the city the javelin that was in his hand. 19 As soon as he did this, the men in the ambush rose quickly from their position and rushed forward. They entered the city and captured it and quickly set it on fire.
20 The men of Ai looked back and saw the smoke of the city rising up into the sky, but they had no chance to escape in any direction; the Israelites who had been fleeing toward the wilderness had turned back against their pursuers. 21 For when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that smoke was going up from it, they turned around and attacked the men of Ai. 22 Those in the ambush also came out of the city against them, so that they were caught in the middle, with Israelites on both sides. Israel cut them down, leaving them neither survivors nor fugitives. 23 But they took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.
24 When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the wilderness where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. 25 Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed[a] all who lived in Ai. 27 But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the Lord had instructed Joshua.
28 So Joshua burned Ai[b] and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day. 29 He impaled the body of the king of Ai on a pole and left it there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take the body from the pole and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate. And they raised a large pile of rocks over it, which remains to this day.
a. Joshua 8:26 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.
b. Joshua 8:28 Ai means the ruin.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus’ (Hebrews 10:19, NIV). Take heed of these words today.
It seems like a strange way to win a battle! Yet for Joshua and God’s people, the holding of a javelin high in the air was a sign pointing to the true source of their victory. As with Jericho, it was the Lord who was leading this battle. It was He who took the initiative (compare 6:2 and 8:18).
Yet we read also of another sign. The body of the defeated king is hung on a pole outside the ruined city (29). It is a warning that those who break God’s law face judgment and death. So grave is this that the body must be taken down before sunset lest the whole land come under God’s curse (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23).
With the eyes of faith, we can see here a picture of another king who was hung on a tree ‘outside the city walls.’ Yet rather than a sign of judgment, this One’s death is a sign for us of God’s grace. As Paul reminds us, ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us’ (Galatians 3:13, 14).
Think of a friend or family member that you know needs an encounter with God. How can you be a signpost to them this coming week, pointing them to God’s grace?
Spirit of God, I pray today for my friends and family who don’t yet understand what Jesus has done for us on the cross.