The book of Joshua is full of military campaigns, but there are two battles that are given significant “ink”—where we get an insight into the strategy, the battle itself, and the final outcome. They are the first two battles: Jericho and Ai.
They both ultimately ended in total victory for the Israelites, but the path to victory was starkly different.
- Jericho: a week-long campaign
- Ai: a 3-day campaign
- Jericho: the Israelites surrounded the city
- Ai: the Israelites made a direct frontal assault, followed by a feint and a rear ambush
- Jericho: 0
- Ai: 36
I believe the difference can be traced to the planning stage:
I know that someone will say, “Hold on, Craig! It was Achan’s sin that caused the initial defeat at Ai.” And I wouldn’t disagree with you. But perhaps if Joshua had heard from the Lord before attacking Ai, God would have told him about Achan’s sin.
NO OTHER CASUALTIES are mentioned in the entire book! Thirty-six people died because Joshua listened to other men instead of God.
So that leads me to ask… Who am I listening to? Who are you listening to?