“And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. And the others came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. And Israel struck them down, until there was left none that survived or escaped.” – Joshua 8:21-22
Scripture reading: Joshua 8:10-29
It’s confusing for us to follow the action of Israel’s battle with Ai, but God commanded Israel to use a strategy that involved deceit. Joshua and the soldiers in front of the city had to pretend to run away when the soldiers of Ai came out after them and 5,000 soldiers, lying in ambush, ran into the city and captured it.
Our holy and truthful God told Joshua to deceive Ai. That’s our God: He lets our enemies rush to their own destruction; in fact, He lures them into doing that. When our enemies think they’re going to finish us off, God has them right where He wants them. Goliath was offended when David was sent out against him, all alone, with only his staff and a sling. And David brought him down. Satan and Jesus’ enemies thought they would destroy Jesus by getting Him crucified. But they destroyed themselves.
In Revelation 20, Jesus showed John how Satan will be released and will deceive the nations to gather them for battle against the church. With their number like the sand of the sea, they surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them. That’s the way God works.
Right now, our enemies are growing strong, on every side. But that doesn’t mean the end for us. Because God will use their pride, their presumption, their thirst for our blood, to lead them to their own destruction. And their destruction is our salvation.
Suggestions for prayer
Ask God to use this story, and others like it, to encourage you as you see the enemies of the church and the gospel growing in strength, and to help you stand firm in faith in spite of the way things seem to be going.
Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON.