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Joshua 8, in a way, seeks to right the wrongs of the previous chapter. The key to victory is laid out before them in vv.1-2, and this time Joshua commits to following God’s plan with total obedience (vv.3-9). A plan is made and followed and, because the plan was of the Lord, works exactly as anticipated (vv.10-23).
Joshua and the people’s total obedience this time around (cf. 7.1-9) is epitomised in v.26 wherein we read that Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction. Not until the battle was completely finished did Joshua relax his total obedience (v.18).
When the victory given to them by God was complete, we see the words of Deuteronomy 27 and 28 fulfilled with the building of an altar on Mount Ebal (Deuteronomy 27.4). Sacrifices and offerings are made, and the 180° turn from the events of Joshua 7 is complete when the people wholeheartedly seek to be a community focused on the Word (vv.30-35).
Is there something for us in this account that can read a little like a chapter from a military history book?
We saw in Joshua 7 that when disobedience is followed by sin then a curse follows whereas here in Joshua 8, we see that total obedience to God’s plan is the surest strategy for victory.
For you and for me then, no matter what we are working through and no matter what is going on in our lives right now, the burden to achieve victory doesn’t rest on us. God knows you, loves you, wants the best for you, and has already made a way for that to happen for you (v.1).
We don’t need to stray from the Word and promises of God to try and make things happen for ourselves, to try and advance our own situations (7.21).
Rather, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed…because God has already provided for you everything you need to walk through whatever is going on in your life right now. There is a table set for you, there is victory ahead for you (Psalm 23.5), but that victory comes from your total obedience to the Lord and His Word.