Help Me Understand
Lord, sometimes Your Word is hard for me to understand. May Your Holy Spirit teach me Your Word today.
Read Joshua 8:18-29
 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.  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.  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.  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.  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.  But they took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.  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.  Twelve thousand men and women fell that day-all the people of Ai.  For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed all who lived in Ai.  But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the LORD had instructed Joshua.  So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day.  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. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did God show he was in control of the battle?
I find it hard to preach on some parts of the Old Testament if children are present, although children sometimes enjoy the bloodthirsty stories. They don’t question why people were killed; they seem to accept it because God allowed it to happen. In today’s account God not only sanctions but requires the massacre of a whole city and the humiliating public execution of its king. In strictly theological terms I can explain the underlying principles of God’s judgment on sin, even the annihilation of an entire city to prevent the inhabitants’ sins spreading further. But it’s hard for me to see love, mercy, forgiveness and grace in such an event. I must accept that I can’t understand some things God does. It’s certainly true that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,” declares the Lord (Isa. 55:8). That doesn’t mean I should accept them blindly but neither should I waste time in trying to understand them fully. This is key to true Christian discipleship: to know that whatever God does, wherever he leads, he is still God and he is still in control.
Is there anything about God’s ways or his word you don’t understand or find hard to accept? Share that with God.
God, there is so much about You that I don’t understand. Encourage me to trust and follow you more closely.
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