The Destruction of Ai

Scripture Passage: 
Joshua 8:1-35

INTRODUCTION: The people suffered defeat at Ai because of the sin of one man. Now the Lord speaks to Joshua and assures him of victory. The sin of one man brought them death, but the presence of one (The LORD) will bring certain victory.

  1. THE STRATEGY FOR TAKING AI (Joshua 8:1-8)
    1. The Lord Promises Victory (Joshua 8:1-2).
      1. The Lord gives Joshua encouraging words (Joshua 8:1).
      2. The Lord gives details of the victory (Joshua 8:1-2).
        1. The Lord will deliver everything into the hands of Joshua (Joshua 8:1).
        2. The Lord will deliver Ai as He delivered Jericho (Joshua 8:2).
        3. The cattle and spoil are to be kept for Israel (Joshua 8:2).
        4. The children of Israel will do this by ambushing Ai (Joshua 8:2).
    2. Joshua Provides the Battle Plan (Joshua 8:3-8).
      1. A group of soldiers are to lie in wait behind the city (Joshua 8:3-4).
        1. Joshua chooses thirty thousand mighty men of valour (Joshua 8:3).
        2. Joshua instructs the men to lie in wait behind the city (Joshua 8:4).
        3. These men are not to get too close to the city, but neither are they to get too far from the city (Joshua 8:4).
      2. Another group of soldiers are to draw out the men of Ai (Joshua 8:5-6).
        1. Joshua and his group will approach unto the city of Ai (Joshua 8:5).
        2. They will flee before the men of Ai to draw them out of the city (Joshua 8:5-6).
      3. The soldiers lying in wait will take the city (Joshua 8:7-8).
        1. When the men of Ai depart out of the city, the men lying wait will seize upon the city (Joshua 8:7).
        2. When the soldiers take the city, they are to set it on fire (Joshua 8:8).
  2. THE AMBUSH IS LAID FOR AI (Joshua 8:9-13)
    1. Men Position Themselves to the West (Joshua 8:9).
      1. The thirty thousand are sent away to locate outside of Ai on the west side.
      2. Joshua stays behind and lodges among the people.
    2. Men Position Themselves to the North (Joshua 8:10-11, 13).
      1. Joshua and the remaining soldiers draw near to Ai (Joshua 8:10-11).
      2. Joshua and his soldiers pitch on the north side of Ai (Joshua 8:11, 13).
    3. Another Group Positions Themselves to the West (Joshua 8:12).
      1. Various opinions exist as to the identity of these men.
      2. It appears that Joshua takes five thousand men out of his platoon and posts them closer to the city of Ai on the west side.
      3. The first group of thirty thousand is not to get too close to the city and risk being seen; whereas the five thousand could be right against the city, remain hidden, and yet offer a fast attack from the west.
  3. THE DEFEAT OF THE CITY OF AI (Joshua 8:14-22)
    1. The Battle Begins (Joshua 8:14).
      1. The king of Ai spots Joshua and his men.
      2. The king and his people go out to battle against Israel.
    2. The Men of Ai Pursue the Men of Israel (Joshua 8:15-17).
      1. Joshua and his men retreat as though defeated again (Joshua 8:15).
      2. The people of Ai pursue after Joshua and his men (Joshua 8:16).
      3. No men are left in Ai because of the pursuit (Joshua 8:17).
    3. The Israelites Attack (Joshua 8:18-22).
      1. The Lord gives Joshua instructions (Joshua 8:18, 26).
        1. Joshua stretches out his spear toward the city of Ai (Joshua 8:18).
        2. Joshua does not lower the spear until the inhabitants of Ai are utterly destroyed (Joshua 8:26).
      2. The ambush takes the city and sets it on fire (Joshua 8:19).
      3. The men of Ai turn to see the smoke of the city (Joshua 8:20).
      4. The men of Ai lose all courage (Joshua 8:20).
      5. The Israelites who had retreated turn to fight (Joshua 8:20-21).
      6. Those who ambushed the city pursue from the rear (Joshua 8:22).
  4. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE CITY OF AI (Joshua 8:23-29)
    1. The Israelites Capture the King (Joshua 8:23).
      1. The king of Ai is taken alive.
      2. The king is brought to Joshua.
    2. The Inhabitants of the Land Are Slain (Joshua 8:24-26).
      1. The inhabitants who had pursued are slain in the wilderness (Joshua 8:24).
      2. The Israelites return to clean up in Ai (Joshua 8:24).
      3. The number of deaths in Ai amounts to twelve thousand (Joshua 8:25).
      4. Joshua lowers his spear at the completion of the task (Joshua 8:26).
    3. The Mission Is Completed (Joshua 8:27-29).
      1. The cattle and the spoil are kept for Israel (Joshua 8:27).
      2. The city is burnt (Joshua 8:28).
        1. Joshua burns Ai.
        2. The city is made into a heap.
      3. The king of Ai is executed (Joshua 8:29).
        1. He is hung from a tree until eventide.
        2. His body is removed and cast at the entering of the gate of the city.
        3. A great heap of stones is raised over his dead body.
  5. THE WORSHIP OF THE PEOPLE (Joshua 8:30-35)
    1. Joshua Builds an Altar in Mount Ebal (Joshua 8:30-31).
      1. Joshua builds an altar unto the Lord (Joshua 8:30-31).
        1. In mount Ebal (Joshua 8:30)
        2. According to the law of Moses (Joshua 8:31)
          1. An altar of whole stones
          2. Without the use of iron
      2. The people offer sacrifices (Joshua 8:31).
        1. They offer burnt offerings.
        2. They sacrifice peace offerings.
    2. Joshua Writes upon the Altar (Joshua 8:32).
      1. He writes a copy of the law of Moses on the stones (Deuteronomy 27:1-26).
      2. He writes it in the presence of the children of Israel.
    3. Joshua Reads to the People (Joshua 8:33-35).
      1. The people take their places against mount Ebal and mount Gerizim (Joshua 8:33).
      2. Joshua reads the words of Moses pertaining to the blessings and cursings (Joshua 8:34-35).

CONCLUSION: The children of Israel attempted to take Ai in their own strength and failed miserably. This time, they take Ai by the command and power of God. What a difference the presence and help of the Lord makes in a battle!

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 27:25

The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.