The battle of Jericho ended in an awesome victory.
God showed His mighty power by knocking down the city walls in a thundering flash. Our army didn't have to work hard to finish the battle. We gathered gold and silver from the city as a gift for the Lord then destroyed everything else in the city.
To make sure every person obeyed God's command to not keep anything, each soldier had to pass by me before they went to their tent. I walked each man to the Lord's treasury, then watched him set all the gold and silver coins or bars he took into the offering. Before I let him leave I asked, "Did you take anything else from Jericho?" Each man answered, "No."
We celebrated our first successful battle in the Promised Land for a few days before returning to the work God assigned.
The next city on our list to conquer was Ai. I sent a few scouts to look at the city and decide how many soldiers would be needed for an attack. When the group returned they reported, "My Lord, Joshua, the city of Ai is small. There's no need to send all our soldiers into battle. Two or three thousand men will be enough to conquer the city."
The next day I sent three thousand men to Ai. By nightfall most of the men had returned tired, afraid, and disappointed. I asked, "What happened to the missing men? What went wrong?"
Several stepped forward. "My Lord, we fell into a quick defeat. Thirty-six of our men lost their lives before we had a chance to attack. Maybe they knew we were coming. I don't know. But this is a fact, the Lord God Almighty did not protect us in this battle."
I dismissed the men to their homes then walked to the ark of the Lord. How could we have lost? I bowed before the ark and wept. "Oh, my Lord, why has this happened?" I tore my clothes and fell to the ground, laying flat on the earth until the sun set.
The elders of the camp joined me. We put ashes on our heads and cried out to God. "Why? Why did you bring us across the Jordan River? Will you let the Amorites destroy us? What will happen when the people of this land hear we lost this battle? They'll think we're weak and set out to attack us." The elders and I cried until the Lord answered.
God spoke to me, "Joshua, get up. Why do you lie on the ground crying to me? Israel has sinned. I instructed you and the people to take nothing from Jericho for yourselves, yet things have been stolen from that city and hidden in the Israelite camp. How could the children of Israel win a battle when their backs are turned to me?"
The Lord continued, "Unless you destroy the stolen items, I won't stay with you. Call everyone together. Tell them to prepare for a special meeting tomorrow. At that time I will reveal the thief."
A thief? How did that happen? I asked each soldier if they took anything from Jericho. I watched each one put gold and silver coins in the Lord's treasury before I let him returned to camp. Who dared to lie to me and bring the Lord's anger on us?
The elders and I returned to the camp late that night. Well, they walked, I stomped. I wanted to know right away who lied and stole, but God said the people needed to prepare for the meeting, which means I have to wait until tomorrow.
When we sin, the Lord will let people around us discover the truth. Even when we think no one is looking, God sees.
1. What was the second city chosen for battle?
2. Was this considered an easy or difficult battle?
3. Did the Israelite army win?
4. Why or why not?
5. Why did Joshua and the elders cry out to God?
6. What did God say?
7. What did Joshua decide to do?