Joshua thought it would be easy.
Fresh off an angelic commissioning, the successful crossing of the Jordan, and a decisive victory at Jericho, he was ready to take on the next city: Ai.
This commander had all his ducks in a row. Joshua had patiently served God under Moses for years. He knew the Presence of God intimately himself, and woke up early each morning to seek God. He was courageous and even received manifest angelic assistance.
Joshua was a good leader and a tenderhearted warrior who received detailed military strategies from the Lord. Everyone in Israel wanted to fight with him!
Yet despite an abundance of prophetic words straight from the Lord promising him success, Joshua and his army failed.
What went wrong?
IGNORED WARNINGS LEAD TO LOST BATTLES
Wincing from an initial defeat at Ai, Joshua spent the following day on his face mourning and crying out to God. His soldier's hearts were filled with fear. He prayed:
"Why have You brought us across the Jordan, only to hand us over the Amorites to defeat us? If only we had been willing to live beyond the Jordan! What can I say now that my army has turned back and fled before their enemies?" (Joshua 7:6-8)
Joshua's pain was justified. But God wasted no time sympathizing with Joshua over this defeat:
"Get up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned... they have taken some of the devoted things... they have become accursed. I will no longer be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from among you." (Joshua 7:11-12)
As Bible commentator David Guzik writes, "Joshua didn't need to beg God to change His heart toward Israel; he needed to change Israel's heart toward God!"*
In ancient Israel, Achan's punishment for disobedience was to be stoned to death. Christians today are not called to condemn others' sins, but to deal soberly with their own. We are to put to death things of the flesh that war against our spirits. (Colossians 3:5-6)
When our consciences do not condemn us, we have peace with God. Holy Spirit can then move freely through us without being grieved.
LIONS IN THE LAND
A similar account supported by historical facts, is found in 2 Kings 17. Under Hoshea, who was the last king of Israel's Northern Kingdom, the Israelites are carried off by the Assyrians into exile. In a chapter entitled "Why Israel Fell," the Bible says: "Now this came about because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord." (2 Kings 17:7)
Idolatry, worldliness, compromise; a divided, powerless form of worship that excluded the heart, secret sins and fear-based religion characterized the Israelites in 722 BCE just as Achan's sin reeked of greed and compromise more than 700 years prior.**
In His mercy, God "warned Israel and Judah through ALL His prophets and EVERY seer," but they did not listen. (2 Kings 17:13-14.)
When Samaria is repopulated by other nations (a standard practice for enemy kings after a conquest), God sends lions into the land - even after His people have been exiled - to defend what He sees as His territory. Even heathen nations realize that they must learn the "protocol" for worshiping the God of that land!
The moral of these stories is that how we worship and how we fight is important to God.
If there is compromise in our hearts, our churches, or our nation, battles will be lost. Our response determines God's response: if we choose to walk by the Spirit, we will plunder the enemy. If we choose the ways of the flesh, we will be plundered ourselves. (See Galatians 5)
A TIME OF SEPARATION
In January, I prophesied that 2021 would be a year of separation:
"There is a separation and delineation happening in the world and within the Body of Christ which is God-ordained and God-initiated. In the political and social realms today, the Spirit of God is separating light from darkness by exposing deep state and high-level injustices. We are going to see this happen in the religious sector as well. The Lord is taking us back to the foundations." (Click here to read the full word.)
I believe we have reached the "defining moment" we have been anticipating. Those who continue to harbor compromise or tolerate sin, whether in the government, the church, or the family, are in grave danger.
Hebrews 4:13 warns: "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."
The name Achan means "troubler." Ai means a "heap of ruins." Ai was said to be located near Beth-aven, which means "vanity." Dear ones, do not be deceived: our "New Testament God" is still opposed to pride! (James 4:6).
Unfaithful Israel killed every prophet who warned them, and this Passover week reminds us that while deliverance is always God's heart, those who were blinded by sin killed even God's Son when He came. While sin causes defeat when ignored, it can become a springboard to victory when brought to the cross of Christ!
SANCTIFY YOURSELVES, IT'S TIME TO FIGHT!
A little sin "leavened" the whole army in Joshua's time. What is done secretly and even individually in the Body of Christ still affects the entire remnant. (1 Corinthians 5:6)
Let's make sure that we don't fail to enter into the promises of God's glory, revival, and blessings by being unwilling to separate from sin. The Father has a good plan for this nation and for the world He created!
Honoring Christ's death, resurrection, and atonement is sure way into His blessings. God will be a Father to us if we come honestly to Him as His children, willing and obedient to honor HIS ways of serving, worshiping, and fighting!
I believe Joshua's strategies at Ai are highly relevant to the Body of Christ today.
I hear the Lord saying: "Get up! Sanctify yourselves! Stretch out your spear and remain on the offensive! You will do the same to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho.
"Set an ANGELIC ambush against your enemy. INCREASE and do not diminish your forces in prayer! If you continue to gather as a remnant to pray, I will release a movement in the earth that is unlike anything you have ever seen!
"The enemy believes you are retreating in fear, but watch for the smoke from My FIRE as these heavenly ambushes ignite GLORY in your cities and cause the enemy to come out, unguarded! THEY will be trapped; YOU will conquer all!"
Ai was just a little town. Let's not lose the next battle over just a little sin!
This Passover week:
- Study the strategies in Joshua 7-8, as well as 1 Corinthians 5:3-8 and Matthew 5:29-30. Take the time to read 2 Kings 17 to capture God's heart for true worship!
- Watch a short video of a related prophecy, "Hold Your Position!" here.
- Pray for Holy Spirit to reveal anything that contaminates Body, soul, or spirit as you sanctify yourself to participate in the next great outpouring!
- Print and meditate on Joshua's strategies for breakthrough, below. (Click here for infographic.)
JOSHUA'S STRATEGIES for BREAKTHROUGH:
1. Seek the Lord for the unique and timely strategies for every battle. ~Joshua 7:7-8
2. Be ruthless in dealing with your own sin; guard and nurture the Presence of Holy Spirit in your life! God told Joshua He wouldn't be with him anymore unless the accursed things were destroyed from Israel's midst. ~Joshua 7:12-13
3. Be persistent in prayer, standing firm and using your sword. Pray for heavenly hosts to set ambushes against the enemy. Pray for every secret sin to be exposed. ~Joshua 8:18-19
4. Fight the enemy on your turf and your terms; not his. ~Joshua 8:15-16
5. Don't doubt God's heart to deliver you; check your heart often to make sure there is nothing hindering your victory. ~Joshua 7:10
6. Believe that the glory of God will expose and unseat the enemy from illegitimate places in the land. Watch and WAIT for the signs of God's fiery Presence igniting cities and nations, then rise up to partner with Him in each move! ~Joshua 8:21
7. Show no mercy to demonic entities; refuse to be intimidated or lured into situations where you will be tempted to fall. Remain on the offense, not the defense, until you know you have a decisive victory. Hold your position. Boldly confront those who oppose you when required. ~Joshua 8:21-23
8. Consistency is a key to power. Do not neglect personal quiet times, even if it means rising early to seek the Lord. ~Joshua 8:10
9. Believe God's prophetic promises to you! Heed both the Word and the warnings God gives in times of difficulty. ~Joshua 7:13; 2 Kings 17:13
10. In Christ, sin can no longer defeat you! Receive forgiveness for sin through repentance and the power of the cross, and make past failures your springboard to success! ~Joshua 7 & 8
* From the Enduring Word Commentary on Joshua 7 by David Guzik.
**See the 4.12.2019 Biblical Archaeology Report on dating the Conquest of Ai
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.