He Did What?!

So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day.”—Joshua 8:28 (NKJV) 

God gave His people victory over the foe that had dealt them a bitter blow. The city of Ai, previously successful in repelling Israel’s forces, now lay as a smoldering heap of ruin before Joshua and all of Israel. There’s an undeniable sense of thoroughness in the very language used here. It paints a picture of utter obliteration; a picture that becomes even more vivid in the next verse: “And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day” (Joshua 8:29 NKJV).

These are the details that don’t get covered in Sunday School. Are we sure we’re dealing with the same God here that we’ve come to know and love by way of the meekness and gentleness of Jesus? Here’s a quote that sheds light on this subject:

“We must not judge the past ages by our own high standards of forgiveness and love, learnt in the life and death of Jesus Christ, the last and supreme revelation of God. And we must not import into our own age methods of thought and action which were once permissible and necessary.”—F.B. Meyer

In other words, times have changed. We aren’t living in an ancient context where violence was often necessary for survival. And while God’s essential nature does not change, His standards for our behavior does relative to the times we live in. Joshua lived in a time when the events above were commonly employed and necessary to establish the lasting presence and legacy of Israel in a hostile environment.

So, is there anything for us to apply from the Bible here? Joshua is a window into spiritual realities, and the reality we see here is the need for thoroughness in the spiritual life. Everything Joshua did was thorough in nature because you cannot approach battle half-heartedly. If you do, you won’t survive!

That’s the approach we need to have when it comes to the spiritual battle that lies before us on a daily basis. We’re always at war against the spiritual forces seeking to undermine God’s desired work in our lives. We won’t last long without the same sense of thoroughness Joshua had. As a Christian, don’t leave any question as to what you’re about.

DIG: What single word describes Joshua’s approach to battle?
DISCOVER: How does this apply to the Christian life?

DO: What area of your life requires more thoroughness on your part? Spend some time praying about it, asking the Lord to make it clear.      

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

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.