Joshua 8:18-29

Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Hold out toward Ai the javelin that is in your hand, for into your hand I will deliver the city." So Joshua held out his javelin toward Ai. As soon as he did this, the men in the ambush rose quickly from their position and rushed forward. They entered the city and captured it and quickly set it on fire.

The men of Ai looked back and saw the smoke of the city rising against the sky, but they had no chance to escape in any direction, for the Israelites who had been fleeing toward the desert had turned back against their pursuers. For when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that smoke was going up from the city, they turned around and attacked the men of Ai. The men of the ambush also came out of the city against them, so that they were caught in the middle, with Israelites on both sides. Israel cut them down, leaving them neither survivors nor fugitives. But they took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.

When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the desert where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed all who lived in Ai. But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the LORD had instructed Joshua.

So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day. He hung the king of Ai on a tree and left him there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take his body from the tree and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate. And they raised a large pile of rocks over it, which remains to this day.

Finally the victory against Ai is approaching. But the passage shows us something about the victory that is to come. Congruent to what we previously discussed, victory and blessing will come when we fully obey God. This obedience, as illustrated here, is one that has to last all the way, but not half-way. Note that Joshua did not put down his hand until the very end. Even when we see victory, we still need to obey God until the very end.

Obedience needs to be complete and this passage shows it clearly... actually more implicit than one can imagine. Yet, Joshua's complete obedience in this case was clear. The question here for me and all of us is that do we obey God halfway or all the way? I think about it and ask, sometimes we do things halfway and dun last. It reminds me of the LC that I recently attended in Kuching. How do we become a Christian who will last all the way, and able to obey God all the way? There are normally a lot of things that can tempt us to give up halfway. In Joshua's case, the sight of impending victory is tempting enough to make him draw back his hand. Again, human reasoning can prevail here, and in our lives, this is so evident. I was talking to someone recently from another church. He told me that anyone aged 21 and above should start exploring relationships. But this sounds to me more human and worldly than anything. So we cannot simply adhere to the wisdom of the world, though they have much to teach us how to be wise. Obeying God all the way means all the way into the word, and there is no compromise. Even if you talk about selective obedience, you still need to know the word, there is no escape.

So are we completely and fully obedient? Or we just halfway? Something for us to think about.


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