The God of infinite variety
When our main army attacks, the men of Ai will come out to fight as they did before, and we will run away from them. We will let them chase us until we have drawn them away from the town. For they will say, ‘The Israelites are running away from us as they did before.’ Then, while we are running from them, you will jump up from your ambush and take possession of the town, for the Lord your God will give it to you...Set the town on fire, as the Lord has commanded. You have your orders.” So they left and went to the place of ambush between Bethel and the west side of Ai. But Joshua remained among the people in the camp that night... So they stationed the main army north of the town and the ambush west of the town. Joshua himself spent that night in the valley. Joshua 8:5-7, 9, 13 NLT
God had shown to the Israelites that their God is not only the God of new beginnings, but He is also the God of infinite variety. The strategy employed in defeating Ai was totally different from the way Jericho was captured. In Jericho, the Israelites were to march around the walls for a week and were done during daytime. The operation at Ai included a covert preparation at night and will culminate with an attack on daylight. In Jericho, the soldiers were united; at Ai, Joshua divided the soldiers. In Jericho, the victory came through a miracle; at Ai the victory was achieved by ambush “west of the town” and by luring the people so they will come out of their city. God changes the strategy and leaders so that we will not trust humanities’ abilities but to trust God’s leading. He does this so that we will be dependent on His promises and not just to our own personal experiences. This is why it is important to seek His will in all our undertakings so that we will not miss the blessings He prepares for those who trust Him. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NIV). The people of Ai were overconfident because of the defeat the Israelites experienced in the first attack. For the Israelites, all that needs to be done is to be obedient to God’s command. “...for the Lord your God will give it to you...as the Lord has commanded. You have your orders” (Joshua 8:7-8). Satan’s goal is to lure us to his schemes so we will be defeated. Being obedient to the Word of God will make us aware of the enemy’s tactics. “...so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). When we abide in the Word of God, it will give us assurance and courage for we know that we are on His side and that He will prevail.