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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Stretch out the spear that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.’”—Joshua 8:18 (NKJV)
To quickly recap; God had given Joshua particular instructions on how he was to attack and overcome the walled city of Ai. It would consist of two separate phases and two separate fighting forces. The first phase would see the first force approach the city and then retreat in order to draw Ai’s soldiers out in pursuit.
This is exactly what happened, bringing us to phase two where the second fighting force would be waiting behind the city, ready to rush in and ambush it once emptied of its defenders.
But as with any military operation with multiple phases, timing is everything! If you don’t time things just right—if the transition of action isn’t coordinated—then things fall apart rapidly. Joshua knew this. He wasn’t naïve when it came to the importance of timing on the battlefield. And it must have been tempting to rely on his own sense of timing as a military here.
However, we get a great insight into Joshua as he doesn’t act on his own instincts, but rather waits for the Lord to tell him when to enact the next phase of the attack. God tells Joshua to raise his spear, which was the sign for the second phase to start.
It was God’s precise timing that orchestrated this handoff. As a result, the operation is successful, Ai is conquered, and her soldiers go from being the hunters to being the hunted as both fighting forces of Israel collapse on them. The humiliating defeat at Ai is avenged and Israel resumes its forward march to possess the Promised Land.
Sometimes we take for granted how amazing stories in the Bible play out because we can only view it in hindsight. But imagine you were Joshua in those desperate life or death moments before the tide had turned. What did he stand on? He didn’t trust in himself or all that experience had taught him. Instead, he waited on the Lord to give the right command at just the right time.
As we have seen over and over again, Joshua’s exploits are illustrative of spiritual life. Could there be any better guideline for spiritual victory than to not lean on our own understanding in favor of trusting in the Lord, and especially His timing? May we follow this example set for us by Joshua when it comes to every phase of our lives.
DIG: What was phase two in overcoming the city of Ai?
DISCOVER: Who determined the timing for this second phase to begin?
DO: How are you being tested right now in terms of timing and how can you benefit from what we see here in Joshua? Pray the Lord would reveal His timing, accomplish His will, and give you the wisdom, patience, and endurance to wait upon Him.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.