GO UP TO AI
Joshua 8:1 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land: 2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.
Wait a minute! Aren’t these the same words that the Lord said to Joshua, recorded in chapter one, when he was given his commission at the outset of his leadership responsibilities? Yes! Here those first words are, as recorded in Joshua 1:9. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
And then, here in Joshua 8:1 we reread them as spoken again by the same Lord, to the same man, but now after the awful ordeal of the execution of Achan, his wife and children! One great thing the believer can know is that no matter what the various trying events that will come in our lives, the Lord never changes! Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. How thankful we should be for the immutability of our Lord! He will never repent of providing and sustaining our salvation! John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Has he not given to us his only begotten Son? Then shall he not, with him, freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32).
That is but one lesson we should learn from the Lord’s continuing right where he left off after dealing with a sin problem. Another lesson is that the Lord will not tolerate sin and deception among his people! For Achan and all his deception was known of him. And he did not let Achan die among the 36 who were killed in Ai in Israel’s first attack! (Joshua 7:5) If indeed, Achan was among those 3000 warriors, the Lord kept him from even getting a scratch. Thirty six mothers mourned the death of their sons that night, but not Achan’s Mom! The Lord saw to it that Achan was returned to Israel in order for them to learn this valuable lesson – the church will never prosper against the enemies of the Lord with sin in the camp! And also they learned that God hates sin, no matter in whom it is found!
We also run into these words which were recorded in Joshua 1:9 and 8:1 over in Joshua 10:25! But there, although they are the exact same words, this time they are spoken from the mouth of Joshua! And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.
It is a glorious matter when words, which reveal the speakers principles, set forth from the mouth of the Lord become our heart felt beliefs, and our testimonies! 2Cor. 4:13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
And these words are spoken again, here in Joshua 8:1, from the mouth of the Lord after there had been a purging in Israel. For nothing will cause our mouths to speak as the Lord speaks like a good dose of mortification of the heart! For it is only out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks! (Matt. 12:34). Words of wisdom flowing from the lips are directly attributable to a mortified heart! Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Consider the benefits of God’s fatherly chastisements for the believer’s spiritual knowledge: Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. 71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. One of the blessings from the Lord is being given the ability to speak a seasonable word of comfort to weary souls! Isaiah 50:4 The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. And, as stated above, the cross is the sanctified implement which the Lord uses to impart such a gift. Consider the following passage:
2 Corinthians 1:6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
This is the way that spiritual faith has been maintained, without allowing traditional religion to destroy God’s continued, pure revelation! For first, God delivered THE faith to the saints (believers)! (Jude 3). And that pure, undefiled faith has God-ordained, good works to evidence it! Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Note: Here it is the good works that are said to be ordained!
For one cannot show their God-granted faith without these specific works! James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Therefore with THE faith once delivered, he couples his ordained works as faith’s evidence! And these sanctified works are only made effectual by his cross! For one does not make his paths straight except after God’s effectual chastisements! Hebrews 12:9
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
And not one single believer is without his own individual cross! For without a cross, one cannot be a disciple! Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Therefore, the Apostle Paul wrote in the above listed verses of 2 Corinthians 1:6,7, that since these believers were partakers of THE afflictions of the cross, (which effectually evidence faith), then there was absolutely no doubt in his mind but that they would also be partakers of THE consolation! Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
For our Lord suffered supernatural temptations from the person of Satan himself. He was taken up on a high mountain and shown all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory, in order to falsely promise him world domination under Satan’s rule, without having to go to the cross! (He’s still offering that deal and religionists are taking him up on it!)
But it was through his death that our Lord both destroyed Satan’s stolen authority, and delivered us from such powerful testings! Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Now, after Christ’s victory at Calvary, we are certainly promised that our temptations would now only be in the realm of those common to man, and then farther, even according to our several abilities! 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
That is why this writer capitalized those words, “THE” in the above paragraphs when referring to the verses in 2 Corinthians 1:6,7. For the Lord having taken unto himself supreme, universal authority upon his resurrection, will neither allow the believers temptations to be above that which he has enabled them to bear; nor will he permit them to be without their ordained crosses, in order that they can be allowed personal acquaintance with him as they enter into the fellowship of his sufferings! Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Therefore the great Apostle Paul could honestly write of a stedfast hope, and a certain knowledge that those ordained to enter into Christ’s sufferings would most certainly then be brought into his true consolations!
2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
If one is to study the sufferings of the cross from the Scriptures, he will eventually be directed to the writings of the Apostle Peter. For it was at Christ’s cross that his prideful, self-sufficient spirit was conquered. It was there that the self-confessed religionist, who disputed the Lord’s word concerning his denial, went out and wept bitterly. Listen now to his voice of experience given to us by the inner workings of the Holy Spirit:
1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
The following words of the Apostle Paul are just as much applicable to Peter, and are very valuable to us. For they reveal that an effectual ministering of the gospel is not just formed by book learning, but by a self death and spiritual resurrection. 2 Corinthians 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
May our Lord grant us patient endurance to finish our course for his glory!
Pastor Gene Breed, December 31, 2011