Joshua and Judges: Joshua gets perplexed at the failure at Ai. We will all get perplexed. Jos 7:4-9; 2Co 4:7-18; Psa 116:1-11.

Class Outline:

Title: Joshua and Judges: Joshua gets perplexed at the failure at Ai. We will all get perplexed. JOS 7:4-9; 2CO 4:7-18; PSA 116:1-11.


Announcements / opening prayer:



JOS 7:4 So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai.


JOS 7:5 And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water.


Joshua emotes instead of thinking and completely fails, but only for a short time like all of us.


JOS 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.


Joshua and the elders of the people were also deeply affected, not so much at the loss of thirty-six men, as because Israel, which was invincible with the help of the Lord, had been beaten, and therefore the Lord must have withdrawn His help.


It is a very natural expression of grief to tear the clothes in front of the breast by which the sorrow of the heart was to be laid bare. This was not only common among the Israelites but was very widely spread among the other nations of antiquity.


Instead of thinking and coming up with a solution, Joshua emotes and complains. He fails as a believer and as a leader.


JOS 7:7 And Joshua said, "Alas, O Lord God, why didst Thou ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan!


He sounds very much like the Israelites who would not believe the report given by him and Caleb who spied out the Promised Land.


NUM 14:2

And all the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!


Some interpret this as Joshua struggling with God in prayer and therefore innocently struggling with his faith. While I see some of that here I also see failure of faith. God has promised the land to them and has told Joshua plainly what would be the only reason for a failure like this.


JOS 1:1 Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant, saying,


JOS 1:2 "Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.


JOS 1:3 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.


JOS 1:4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun, will be your territory.


JOS 1:5 No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.


JOS 1:6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.


JOS 1:7 Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.


Hindsight is always very clear, but with some time spent in thinking rather than emoting, Joshua should have concluded that if he didn't break the Law, then someone else did.


He said this very thing to them before they took Jericho.


JOS 6:18 But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, lest you covet them and take some of the things under the ban, so you would make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it.


God has spoken freely with him. He should have simply asked God the reason for the failure at Ai instead of whining is desperation and having the, "that's it… it's all over," attitude.


JOS 7:7 And Joshua said, "Alas, O Lord God, why didst Thou ever bring this people over the Jordan, only to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to dwell beyond the Jordan!


We often fail to ask God for guidance and direction when we are facing trouble. We are quicker to ask the opinion of another person before we ask God.


Verses eight and nine are legitimate requests. After an initial emoting, Joshua supplicates God for guidance and has a legitimate question, "If the others in Canaan find out that Israel was defeated by a small town like Ai, then they will be emboldened to fight against Israel rather than fearing them as Jericho did, which is an important part of their victory."


JOS 7:8 "O Lord, what can I say since Israel has turned their back before their enemies?


JOS 7:9 "For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and they will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what wilt Thou do for Thy great name?"


Joshua conveys one simple thought: how would God uphold His great name before the world, when the report that Israel had turned their back before them should reach the Canaanites, and they should come and surround the Israelites, and destroy them without a single trace from off the face of the earth.


Joshua should know the answer to this, but the circumstances look much different than he and the rest of Israel imagined. Therefore, in prayer, he seeks for answers. That is a legitimate request.


The believer is promised a victorious life as he walks by means of the word and the Spirit. Yet sometimes there is confusion in us as to the shape that victory will take. This is as asking God, “Father, I know you have given me the victory, but what I see is confusing, please give me clarification.”


2CO 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;


The treasure - 2CO 4:6 the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.


The greatness of the power is this wisdom under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.


Yet this power does not insulate us from the troubles now mentioned.


2CO 4:8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;


“afflicted” - qli,bw[thlibo] = to press. Afflict, trouble, or distress.

But not “crushed” - stenocori,a[stenochoria] = narrow place. Inner distress from pressure.


We conclude that during the times of trouble we should ask God in prayer, not to take the trouble away, but to reveal to us the solution so that the trouble does not become inner distress, and if it already has, to remove it. God will lead to instruction from His word so that you may understand, trust, and be at peace. Joshua is doing the same. This same attention in prayer applies to the next three couplets.


These are all present passive participles, meaning they are always about and come upon us. We do not seek them out. They are always at the ready to come upon us.


“perplexed” - avpore,w[aporeo] = without a way. At a loss, in doubt. But not “despairing” - evxapore,w[exaporeo] = to be utterly without a way. Totally at a loss.


“I don’t know the way right now, but I am not without a way. God will reveal the way in His time so I do not completely despair.”


2CO 4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;


“persecuted” - diw,kw[dioko] = put to flight or pursued. But not “forsaken” - evgkatalei,pw[engkataleipo] = forsake, abandon, leave behind helpless.


“struck down” - kataba,llw[kataballo] = cast down. But not “Destroyed” - avpo,llumi[apollumi] = to utterly destroy or to perish (not extinction but ruin as used for lost sheep).


2CO 4:10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.


“dying of Jesus” - troubles always around us as well as His example of suffering always within us so that we learn how to handle it all with grace and strength.


The phrase “dying of Jesus” has a double connotation. It is the first parts of the couplets; pressured, without a way, persecuted, and cast down; and then the second parts of the couplets in light of Christ’s suffering. He had all of the first parts and was able, through the plan of the Father to handle all of them impeccably. His example lives within us so that the first parts don’t become the second parts; inner distress from pressure, totally at a loss, feeling abandoned, or believing we are totally lost.


Php 4:11-13

Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.


And about feeling abandoned…


JOH 16:32

"Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.


2CO 4:10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.


“life of Jesus” - being able to handle life’s troubles with the power of God is the life of Jesus manifested through us.


If when the first parts of the couplets come upon you that you freak out, emote, panic, stress, despair, i.e. fall into the second parts then the life of Jesus is not manifest in you. Be honest and don’t condemn yourself. No one begins Christianity with this ability. It must be learned through dedication to the word of God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and this can take many years. But if it is true that you often fail to manifest that life, don’t bury that truth in your tent. Be open with God about that and learn from Him. Lying to yourself because you hate to see yourself as weak will only cause that lack of life to remain and continue.