The Spirit and the Word
For Joshua kept holding out his spear until everyone who had lived in Ai was completely destroyed. Only the livestock and the treasures of the town were not destroyed, for the Israelites kept these as plunder for themselves, as the Lord had commanded Joshua. So Joshua burned the town of Ai, and it became a permanent mound of ruins, desolate to this very day...Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal. He followed the commands that Moses the Lord’s servant had written in the Book of Instruction: “Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools.” Then on the altar they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. And as the Israelites watched, Joshua copied onto the stones of the altar the instructions Moses had given them. Joshua 8:26-28, 30-32 NLT
God’s judgment to the people of Ai was consummated. The conquest was complete. They destroyed all the people in the city of Ai and took the plunder. The people of Ai received the wrath of God for they kept on resisting God’s offer of grace and forgiveness. There was no denying that Ai was completely defeated. A great heap of stones was raised over the corpse of the king that the mound served as a memorial. It was God who was responsible in bringing to the Israelites their victory. All that Joshua and the people did was to listen to God’s Word. The literal execution of God’s Word was the key to the mission’s success. Israel now occupied the strategic region of Bethel and Ai, and was poised to launch its attacks both south and north.
The people of the land had sinned and the cup of their iniquity was filled to the brim: ‘For all these abominations the men of the land have done … and thus the land is defiled’ (Leviticus 18:27). The judgement meted out to them was therefore the result of their having indulged in that which displeased God intensely. His wrath rested upon those who were living in sin, and finally justice had caught up with them. They were judged by the Almighty God. At some time, after the victory was attained, the Israelites followed Moses’ instructions when they enter the Promise Land (see Deuteronomy 27:1-8). The people of God were given the opportunity to make a new commitment to the authority of God and His word. Whenever Israel turns to their own ways, God will not let it pass and they will be disciplined. The secret to their victory is their obedience to God. Today, faithful followers of God have the word of God written in their hearts by the Spirit of God. “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you” (John 14:17).