A Desolation To This Day
Now when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai.
Then the others came out of the city against them; so they were caught in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side. And they struck them down, so that they let none of them remain or escape.
But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.
So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day.
And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.
The Lord God made an appointed place for His people here at Ai to show that He was Lord over all and In control of all things. In this tale of the destruction of Ai, we seem to see such cruelty, destruction and desolation. With the natural mind it does not seem to fit with our perception of this loving, forgiving God, and some might think that it could so easily send our faith off track and into doubt; even unbelief. The Holy Spirit shows us otherwise, for this battle occurred as The Lord had commanded Joshua.
Read Leviticus 26 (some verses of which are shown below) and we can begin to see that the light continues shining forth, that this is a description of a spiritual battleground, one in which we need to vanquish the heap of ruins [Ai] that the evil one [the king of Ai] seeks to establish in us.
We must always remember to see the spiritual and not the natural in God’s Word, which is another way of saying ‘look at this from His point of view instead of our own’. In some ways, we can see this story as a retelling of the story of the flood, but in a different location. Indeed, God removing sinners by a cataclysm of some sort is a recurring motif — particularly in the Old Testament — showing that The Lord is constantly separating the wheat and the tares; except that the good and the bad must always be raised side by side. Why? Simply that unless we know of the darkness, we can have no real perception of the light. It is all part of the fiery trial of our faith.
Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn. [Matthew 13:30]
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. [1 Peter 4:12-13]
This is strong stuff, but a picture of what The Holy Spirit is working in us through the spiritual battleground within us. The Lord wants to see us holy, pure and incorruptible, raised to the fullness of life in Him, with all that is not of Him cast behind us — a desolation to this day.
‘Meditate on these things…’
'You shall not make idols for yourselves;
neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves;
nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it;
for I am the LORD your God.
You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary:
I am the LORD.
If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them,
then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
'But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments,
and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant,
I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.
“Nearer My God To Thee” — Rosemary Siemens
A HOLY OCCUPATION: Oswald Chambers on PRAYER
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GEORGE and GILL STEWART