Obedience is the Only Way

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Joshua 8:8 (NIV)
“When you have taken the city, set it on fire. Do what the Lord has commanded. See to it; you have my orders.”

Joshua 8:8 (MSG)
“Once you have the city, burn it down. God says it, you do it. Go to it. I’ve given you your orders.”
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“When you have taken the city, you shall set it on fire; you shall do [exactly] as the Lord commanded. See, I have commanded you.” -AMPLIFIED

Yesterday we looked at God’s directive to Joshua that now it was time to go up against Ai and take it for the Lord God. God told Joshua not to be afraid or discouraged; for He (God) would personally hand over the king of Ai to Joshua; the king, the people, his city and his land.

So we find Joshua obediently setting about doing what God had commanded him to do. Joshua called all his fighting men together and got ready to depart for Ai. Choosing a group of 30,000 he sent them out in the dark of the night with this charge: “I want you all to lie in wait behind the city in ambush. Stay close, and stay alert. I will bring the others up to the front of the city; and when they come out to fight us, we will run from them. Their forces will all come out of the city to chase us because they will think everything is happening the way it did the first time. But when we have lured them all out and away from the city, I want you to move in and take it, for the Eternal One, your God will give it to us. When you have taken the city, burn it. This is the word of the Eternal and my command.” -Joshua 8:4-8 (VOICE)

The group that was sent off for the ambush made their way into the hills and took their places somewhere between Bethel and Ai. Meanwhile, Joshua took the remainder of the army and spent the night in camp; giving their enemy the impression that all was well.

We then find this happening on the morning of the next day: “In the morning, Joshua rose early and roused the people, and he and the elders went on to Ai in front of the people. 11 All the fighting men with him went up and moved in close to the city and set up camp in front and north of Ai, with a ravine between the camp and Ai. The other force, numbering about 5,000, remained hidden west of the city between Bethel and Ai. With his forces situated with men to the north and west of the city, Joshua camped in the valley that night.” -Joshua 8:10-13 (VOICE)

The next morning the king of Ai arose from his good night’s sleep and was met with this sight outside his window; the Israelites were lined up against him ready for battle. Gathering his own forces he went out to face the Israelites; not knowing that there was an ambush hiding behind the city.

Next we find this happening, “Joshua and all Israel let themselves be chased; they ran toward the wilderness. Everybody in the city was called to the chase. They pursued Joshua and were led away from the city. There wasn’t a soul left in Ai or Bethel who wasn’t out there chasing after Israel. The city was left empty and undefended as they were chasing Israel down.” -Joshua 8:15-17 (MSG)

God speaks to Joshua, “Stretch out your arm with javelin in hand toward Ai; for I am delivering it into your hand!” Joshua did as God had spoken to him and when his men, who were hidden, saw his hand raised they sprang from their hiding places, ran into the city, took possession of it and set it on fire.

The men of Ai sensed something was up. They turned back to look over their shoulders and realized in great horror a few things; one their city was on fire, two they were trapped and three they had nowhere to run. Israel had a great victory that day because they followed the Lord’s command and obediently did just as He said.

Obedience is a thread that weaves in and out through Scripture. If people obeyed God they were blessed and their ventures were successful. If they chose to disobey and do things their way they were punished and their ventures were not successful. Remember Achan from the first venture against Ai? His disobedience in following God’s command to destroy everything from Jericho ended up affecting the whole nation. This time around the people of Israel followed God’s directives to the letter.

Obedience is truly the only choice if we want to be happy and successful in life. Jesus said, “…blessed (happy, favored by God) are those who hear the word of God and continually observe it.” -Luke 11:28 (AMP)

My Prayer:

Lord, help me to have my listening ears on; listening for that still, small voice giving me direction. I want to be obedient to you in everything that you tell me to do. I know that when I am disobedient, when I sin, that sin not only affects me, but all who are around me. Give me the strength and fortitude to do what is right. I want to be pleasing to you.

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