Have you ever noticed that a few moments after someone speaks you’ve already forgotten what they said? Relationship counselors often recommend a practice called “active listening” where one person repeats back what someone else has said to them. This ensures the speaker that the recipient has not only heard, but also clearly understood the intended message. As believers, we may sometimes struggle to listen well to God.
The battle of Ai has similarities and differences to the battle of Jericho and the two are meant to be compared and contrasted. First, we can contrast their military approaches. At the battle of Ai, the Lord commanded Joshua to plan an ambush. They would trick the people by luring them from their city. Once they were vulnerable, 5,000 Israelite soldiers would conquer the city. This is a stark contrast to Jericho, where the Israelite army was exposed in broad daylight. Their first line of offense? Priests blowing trumpets! Another notable difference was the approval by the Lord to take possession of the plunder and livestock in Ai. At Jericho they were to destroy everything.
There are similarities in both narratives as well. In both cases the Lord declared that He had already delivered the opposition into the Israelites’ hands. Before any sword was lifted, the battle was already won. Yahweh clearly demonstrated that when His people listen and obey His commands, He will fulfill His promises. The point the Lord was making to Joshua, the Israelites, as well as future generations was that in order to take possession of the Promised Land, they must listen to and obey the Lord’s commands. Blessings and curses came for doing or not doing what the Lord commanded them to do.
>> Perhaps we miss the Lord’s victories in our lives because we fail to listen and obey. Today, take time to listen for God’s leading. This means taking time to be quiet before Him, reading His Word, and listening to what He presses on your heart.
Lord, make us active listeners of your voice and active doers of your Word! Help us remember the message to Joshua and the Israelites in today’s passage: to gain a victory, we have to listen and obey.