I love that God gives another chance! In chapter 7 Joshua send a small group of men against Ai and they were defeated. It turned out that there was sin in the camp because of Achan. In the chapter it doesn't say that God told Joshua to take Ai, but He did say the land was theirs and they were to go in an posses it. Joshua and the people had just defeated Jericho and they were probably feeling pretty powerful and invincible. Ever felt like that? I have.
So they tried to take Ai with only a small portion of their forces. That doesn't work; Joshua grovels before the Lord; the Lord says "get up!"; tells Joshua there is sin in the camp; and Achan admits his sin and is stoned, burned, and buried. But, in chapter 8 God says "don't be timid and don't hesitate, take your men and Ai is yours." God tells Joshua to set an ambush. This time Joshua chooses thirty thousand seasoned men to set the ambush. In chapter 7 he send two to three thousand men total. These thirty thousand were just the ambush! I wonder how seasoned these men where. Before entering the Promised Land all the men of Joshua's age have died because they didn't believe. There hasn't been a lot of fighting other than Jericho, but these men are considered seasoned.
Then Joshua leads the rest of the men, all the rest of them, to Ai. They pretend to flee before the overly confident forces of Ai and led them away from the city. Then God tells Joshua to stretch out his javelin toward Ai and the ambush springs to action and wipes out the city. The men with Joshua attack the men of Ai and all of them are killed except the king, who is later hanged. Joshua did not lower the javelin until the city and all the people are destroyed. I think that means Joshua never fought. If he never lowered the javelin he couldn't have fought against the people of Ai.
When I think about this story I see some valuable truths. I see that God gives second chances.When He makes the plan then the enemy is defeated. I have go up against my enemies with the full strength of the Lord, not just the little bit of strength I may possess. And most importantly sometimes I don't even have to fight. Sometimes God asks me to do something crazy like hold up a javelin in the middle of a battle raging around me. I can just see it. It's kind of like a Hollywood movie where the hero is standing in the middle of the fight staring down the enemy and no one attacks him. Seriously, he just stands there and then one of them charges at the other and the battle is on. How many times have I seen that scene involving Mel Gibson? Maybe that is what this looked like, except Joshua never charges in he just holds the javelin.
Now that is not to say that I just get to stand there in all fights. Sometimes Joshua was right in the midst of the battle fighting along side the men, but in this case he did not fight. Sometimes God just puts me in the middle of the battlefield while angles or others fight the battle. How do I know when to just stand with my javelin and when to run the enemy through? Listen. God told Joshua to hold up the javelin. God will tell me when to just hold up my javelin.
After the battle is won Joshua builds the alter to the Lord, follows all the instructions of Moses, and then with all the people looking on reads all the instructions of Moses to them. When God has given me the victory I need to commemorate like Joshua did, built my own alter to the Lord. It is probably not going to be a stone alter, but it needs to be something. Then I need to spend time in Him and in His Word. The Lord gave the victory so the least I can do is acknowledge Him and spend time with Him in praise and thanksgiving.