Ai Ai AiMy favorite Mexican song is Cielito Lindo. There is a line goes “Ay, ay, ay, ay canta y no llores Porque cantando se alegran, Cielito Lindo, los corazones” (ENGLISH: Ay, ay, ay, ay sing and don’t cry because singing will make happy, heavenly pretty, the hearts). It has a catchy tune, lifts my spirits, but when Joshua first heard about what happened at AI, he might have used different words: “AI AI AI AI, man we’ve got troubles! No pretty sky no singing wives will fill our heart with joy.”

Ai Ai GasaNot to make light of what happened at AI, but I find it interesting that there is a line of women’s designer clothes with Ai in their name. Ai Ai Gasa is a Brooklyn-based clothing line cut from recycled umbrellas. Umbrella’s are found, plucked, stripped, washed, cut and styled. Then they fashion them into puff-a-lump forms. (I wonder if they are water proof?)

Well, when Joshua heard the report of the defeat at AI, he probably felt as if he had been plucked, stripped, washed and cut. The wound went deep into his soul.

Joshua’s Reaction to Defeat

Joshua reacted to defeat of Ai“Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. (Joshua 7:6)

The MAAL MAAL

From the great victory of Jericho it was only a twelve mile journey for Israel to find defeat at AI. It was a stronghold of the ungodly Amorites. The scenery is beautiful, with mountains nearby. It was between AI and Bethel that Abraham pitched his tent and offered sacrifices to Jehovah God. Now it was a city full of debauchery, witchcraft and idol worship.

Israel did a maal maalWhat happened? Israel did a māʿal maʿal. Specifically Achan did a maal maal. Ezekiel 18:24 explains the maal maal principle: “But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, (maal maal) and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.” In almost all the biblical references māʿal is used to designate the breaking or violation of religious law as a conscious act of treachery. The victim against whom the breach is perpetrated is God.—TWOT

Achan broke faithAchan deliberately broke faith with God, but Joshua 7:1 indicates that when one is allowed to do it, they all shared in the breakage of faith.

But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things; for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things; and the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel. (Joshua 7:1)

ACHAN SINNED (MAAL MAAL)

Achans downward descentNow we have all heard how Achan sinned. He got hooked by something he saw. Some beautiful garment caught his eye. It got him to thinking and desiring, and then he saw some silver and gold. So he took it. Sin always has a hook. Sin always has something to grab you with. With Achan the hook was how great he would look wearing the forbidden garment. With Eve it was how great the forbidden fruit would taste. With David it was how tantalizing it would feel to be with such a beautiful woman. With Esau it was how great the stew would taste when he was so famished.

Satan hooks us to break faithThere is always a Hook that Sin grabs us with. Successful salesmen look for something that will hook you. They watch your face to see how you react to different spiels. Drug dealers try to hook young people with freebies. Satan wants to hook us and lead us to make that decision to break faith. Achan did just that, but the Word of God says THAT ALL ISRAEL BROKE FAITH.

We realize that Israel was complicit in Achan’s sin when we analyze the reasons they suffered defeat at AI. God’s anger waxed hot, because He saw something in Israel that was going to cause problems down the road. They needed to learn a collective lesson if the Nation of Israel  was going to KEEP THE FAITH.

The victory at Jericho was fresh on the people’s minds as Joshua, being a good general, sent men to spy out the next strong city. But what is not mentioned is whether Joshua was in communication with the Captain of the Hosts as he was at Jericho. I believe the results indicate that he was not.

ai ai CaptainThe spies reported that Ai would be an easy prize. Three thousand men would be more than enough to  take this small village. Any more would be a waste of manpower. No problem they reported to Joshua. The problem is that Joshua listened to his spies instead of listening to the Captain of the Host. Instead of Joshua going to the Captain and requesting new orders, and saying “AI AI Captain”, he listened to his spies, and as a result ended up shouting “AI AI AI Have We Got Trouble!”

WHO YOU SAY AI AI TO OFTEN DETERMINES THE MESS YOU FIND YOURSELF IN.

I did not get my driver’s license until I was almost 17. It was February 1970, and I was driving my aunts 1959 Oldsmobile. My Dad had let me drive it to a Forensics tournament. On the way home the guys who were with me suggested stopping and getting some beer. I knew I shouldn’t do it, my dad had said strictly to drive there and back home ONLY. But I decided to go with the flow and let one of the guys buy some beer. When he got back in, everybody started drinking the beer (except me of course). Well, they were kidding around and somebody dropped a bottle on the backseat floorboard, and all 12 ouces of beer spilt out. Beer has a very distinct odor, and my car was full of it. I was yelling, we had nothing to clean it us with. It made a big mess. When I got home I tried to clean it up, but the smell was real strong. Needless to say my dad somehow figured out that I had spilled beer in my car and I got into serious trouble. When you say AI AI to the wrong people, it will lead to trouble.

Joshua found himself in serious trouble because he did not say “Ai Ai” to His Captain.

DEFEAT AT AI

“And the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water.” Joshua 7:5

  • Even though the spies said they were few in number, the few was able to rout the many, and death was the result.
  • Few with God can turn the world upside down. Many without God can be as ineffective as a lifeless corpse. The difference is who is doing the fighting.

In this case, God wanted His people to learn a priceless lesson. This Lesson Involved The Ground Rules For Success In Living A Victorious Life. The Marching Orders for Success Mean Depending Upon God for EVERYTHING! Even Little Ai’s!

Most of us live a boring life. Sure, we fill our days with busyness, but for the most part our lives would never make an exciting reality TV show. Occasionally we may encounter a Jericho demanding an awesome display of God’s power, but most of the time we are facing little problems like AI. The problem with facing little problems is that we think we can handle them ourselves. We don’t bother God with the mundane, we figure He wants us to handle it on our own.

Lords PrayerThe Disciples were intrigued because Jesus seemed to pray a lot. Imagine, the Son of God prayed a lot. They said, Teach us to pray. What in our lives is so important that we should pray all the time? He gave them this simple prayer:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory forever and ever.

I don’t know about you, but daily bread is pretty mundane. Most of us don’t pray about grocery shopping. Most of us don’t pray about a pay check (unless of course you are out of a job). But the impact of the Lord’s prayer is that we need to pray constantly about the will of God in our lives, about His provision for our lives, about His deliverance (Victory) for our lives, and about His Protection for our lives. God wants to be involved intimately in our mundane, ho hum, boring everyday lives. God says that our lives make a really exciting reality show, and He wants to be the director!

The problem with living the Christian Life, is that when you deal with the mundane in your flesh, you are weakening your hearts love for God. You are weakening your FAITH walk and run the risk of getting weak hearted. Another way of saying weak hearted is hard hearted. A hard heart is a weak heart, for both are distant from the POWER of GOD!

As the result of failure in dealing with the mundane, the Israelites suffered a horrible defeat and Joshua records: “The hearts of the people melted and became as water.”

When we fail to have victory in the Mundane affairs of life, we lose faith, we lose our heart, we become weak as water. We become in our own mind too weak to fight our way out of a wet paper bag. Even the smallest defeat can lead you to despair to even questioning what God is doing with your life.

See The Cry Of Joshua And Listen To His Despair:

Defeat in little things causes despairHe fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the sun went down. He was bowed down with shame and sorrow. The success he had so recently gloried in was stripped from his memory; and the dark storm cloud of defeat threatened the whole host. The great cause of which he was the leader would fail unless this tide of defeat could be speedily rolled back and the cause of so great a disaster be discovered.

Why are Christians living defeated lives?

Defeated ChristianWhy do we spend most of our time in the wilderness valley instead of rejoicing on the mountain top? You say sin, not reading Bible, not going to church etc. But I believe that what Israel did is exactly the reason we are defeated. The reason we aren’t living victoriously is because WE are trying to do the living. God warned Israel of the danger of living our life in our own strength through the original Mudpreacher: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)

This is what Achan and the Hebrews did to enter the Valley of Trouble and Defeat:

1.  Pride.

Pride goes before fallJust as the spies thought, we think. We live our daily lives thinking, “I can do this, no big deal. I know how to do my job, I know how to drive, I know how to budget, I know how to do most of the things I do to live.” So we aren’t in constant communication with the Captain. We don’t think we need His marching orders for how to eat a bowl of shredded wheat.  We figure God has the big stuff taken care of, we can handle the little stuff. Scripture states that by HIM ALL THINGS CONSIST!

The Victory of Jericho was because they had no confidence in their flesh. They had total confidence in God! We will only continue to have victory if we continue to have no confidence in the flesh. If we rely only on ourselves for the mundane, soon we start to think that everything we have accomplished is because of what we did.

Imagine a woodpecker working on a tree when lightning strikes and splits the tree in half. He goes over to his friends and says come see what I did. Totally impressed, they say, lets see you do it again. He starts to work on another tree and hours later, nothing has happened. He ignored the fact that a Greater Power than he was at work!

Our temptation when blessed so much is to think that we somehow are responsible for our situation. God warns: 1 Corinthians 10:12 “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” The Proud heart will soon discover the Valley of Trouble.

2.  Presumption.

Presumption of victory Mohammed AliThey presumed that God was with them, that He would always be with them because they were His chosen children.

It’s not the Jerichos that defeat most Christians…it’s the Ai’s. We don’t get tripped up by the huge crises. It’s the little molehills that cause us to fall. We thought we could handle them. “No Problem”. Solomon wrote: “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” (Song of Songs 2:15)

In 1961 Boxing Champ Mohammed Ali was preparing to fight Joe Frazier.  He said, “There’s not a man alive that can whip me.  I’m too smart, I’m too pretty, I’m the greatest, I’m the king.  I oughta be a postage stamp…it’s the only way I’ll ever get licked.”

The next night Frazier beat his brains out.  Why?  Because there’s a difference between confidence and presumption. When we don’t look to God for every aspect of our life, we are just as guilty of presumption as the Hebrew’s.

There’s no power of Satan too great for us to overcome in the power of the Spirit of God…but there’s no power of Satan so small that we can overcome it in the power of our flesh.

Israel shared nationally in the guilt of Achan’s sin because of their pride and presumption…

3.  Prayerlessness.

PrayerlessnessJoshua didn’t pray about Ai.  He never consulted the Captain. Because as soon as he did get around to praying God showed him what was wrong. If he had prayed before God would have showed him the sin before and they would not have been defeated.  God has a prescription for America today, and we need to take it before it’s too late!

We do the exact same thing.  We wait  until we make a mess of things and then we go to prayer.  Prayer should be our first thought, not our last resort.  Most of our failures are prayer failures.  Prayerlessness opens our lives to providing a safe harbor for sin.

Pride is the father of presumption and the grandfather of prayerlessness. The Pride, Presumption and prayerlessness are seen in the life of Achan, the man whom you can say was responsible for the death of 36 fellow countrymen.

  • His pride led him to defy the direct Command of Joshua, not to take any of the cursed good of Jericho.
  • His presumption led him to keep his sin quiet and hide the contraband under his tent. He presumed no one would know, that his sin would go unpunished.
  • His prayerlessness led to the separation of his family and possessions from the inheritance of God. He and his family and all his possessions were tragically stoned and burnt.

We look at what happened and say that is so unfair! Look Achan confessed. He knew he had done wrong. Can’t you give him another chance? What about his family. They didn’t do anything wrong.

I will say it over and over until you realize the truth of God’s Word. This life that we have been given is a gift from God. Our lives are not about us and what we want and what God owes us. Our lives are about God and what He wants and what we owe God. God has given us everything. We owe our very existence to Him. Our existence is about His inheritance, what He is giving His SON. If we refuse to follow His Son, if We refuse to follow God and depend upon God, then we will get whatever we deserve.

God’s mercies are new every morning, but His Law will exist for all eternity. If Achan had simply obeyed at Jericho, he would have been able to take spoil from Ai. He simply couldn’t wait. He had to be in charge. When we choose to be in charge of our lives we are an enemy of God. We are robbing God of His inheritance.

Achan loses his inheritanceEven though Achan confessed, his deliberate sin caused the loss of the inheritance of his family. The servants who stoned the prophets and killed the son of the vineyard owner were cast into outer darkness for eternity. The choices you make in this life will vibrate on the chords of eternity. You are either following God in claiming His inheritance, or you are robbing God of His inheritance. You make the choice. You have no one to blame. When you allow pride and presumption and prayerlessness to run your life, you are influencing you family, your descendants. You are working to rob them of their inheritance.

If you want to live in Victory, you must depend on the leadership of God for every aspect of your life. God is Captain of all of your life or he isn’t your captain at all. You have no one to blame but yourself. The entire nation of Israel suffered because of one man’s sin. Yet his sin exposed their sin. God had to set things aright, which is the meaning of mishpat (JUSTICE). He did that by destroying the inheritance of Achan.

What have you traded your inheritance for? Esau did it for a bowl of pea soup. Achan did it for a fancy garment and some silver and gold. Judas did it for 30 pieces of silver.

What is your pride? What presumptions guide your life? Are you in constant communication with the Captain?

You will find yourself crying “AI AI AI What trouble I’m in”, when you are not daily saying “AI AI Captain”.

OUR STORY DOES NOT STOP AT DEFEAT, JUST AS THE BELIEVER’S LIFE IS NOT MEANT TO WALK IN DEFEAT!

FOCUS ON THE VICTORY

Running and looking unto JesusHere is the amazing thing about God. God always want us to focus on the Victory. He never wants us to brood over our defeats. He wants us to be Hebrews 12:1&2 Christians. He wants us to see the great cloud of witnesses who have shared in the Victory of the Risen Christ. He wants us to see them waving their arms, cheering us on. He wants us to lay aside the sin and the weights that try to trip us up. He wants us to FOCUS on Jesus, because He is the one who began our faith walk and He will finish our faith walk! God is faithful! God is true! God wants us to GET UP and say AI AI Captian! Instead of looking at ourselves and our Pride, God wants us to Focus on the Jesus and His Promises

4.  Promises Instead of Pride

It’s one thing to suffer a defeat, but it’s quite another to let that defeat define your life. God wasn’t going to stand for a defeatist attitude. He IMMEDIATELY SAID:  “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? (Joshua 7:10)

God says to all Christians walking in defeat:

Focus on the PromisesSTAND UP STRAIGHT, BRUSH OFF YOUR CLOTHES, WASH YOUR FACE, BRUSH YOUR TEETH, START ACTING LIKE MY SON! START ACTING LIKE I AM IN YOU! (Christ in You, the Hope of Glory!) Then he told Joshua to take care of the problem.

Sometimes we need to search our hearts, sometimes we need to examine our walk. But we are never meant to stay there. We are never meant to brood over our mistakes. God is God of the Living. God is God of the Inheritance. Christ lives in each of us and Jesus Christ is not a Loser. He has never known defeat. Even in death He is the Victor!

God tells Joshua to focus on the Promise and Power of God. Say “AI AI CAPTAIN!”

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. (Joshua 8:1 (NIV)) I have given you the victory. You Just need to learn to rely on me!

When we strip away our pride and confess our sin, when we humble ourselves before Almighty God, He lifts us up, brushes us off and say “NOW COME ON AND ENJOY MY VICTORY THAT IS WAITING FOR YOU!”

5.  Follow God’s Plan instead of Presuming

Follow Gods PlanThen the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land. You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its king. But this time you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the town.” Joshua 8:1-2 (NLT)

God has a plan, he always does. That Plan is us becoming like Christ. “For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) God has a plan of victory already marked out for us. We simply get up each day and say, “Captain, here I am reporting for duty! What are my orders today?” When He tells you, you snap to attention and salute saying “AI AI CAPTAIN!”

Joshua followed the Captains plan to a T. They laid the ambush out, and at the time appointed he held out the javelin banner, signaling the other men to burn the city. Joshua kept the javelin raised high, until the inhabitants were slain, the victory assured. In Man’s plan, they suffered a horrible defeat by a tiny foe. In God’s Victory, they got a bonus city-Bethel. When God is allowed to work He always does more than we even expect or imagine. That is the Power of God when we follow His plan!

6.  Prayer and Worship instead of Prayerlessness

“At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal.”(Joshua 8:30) Joshua had all the people offer sacrifices to God. They worshipped, they prayed. They acknowledged their total dependence upon Him!

Prayer and Worship by JoshuaHave you allowed pride and presumption to lead you into a prayerless powerless defeated life? Is God not a part of your daily life? Are you not following the Captain even in the mundane things of life? Do you think you’ve got it handled. You are setting yourself up for defeat. You will encounter your Ai.

The Captain of the Host stands at the door of your life, and He says open up. I have so many Promises for your life. I promise with me as your Captain you will have victory. You will drink from a fountain and never be thirsty. I have so many Plans for your life, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. You just need to say AI AI each and every day, no matter how boring you think things are. You need to make me part of your everyday life. You need to communicate with me, pray with me, worship me. I came to give you an abundant life! But you must abide in me!

The Choice is yours. You can live your life as your own boss, but one day you will cry out “Ai Ai Ai Ai Have I Got Trouble!”

Valley of HopeBut God Promises, if you seek Him, he will turn the valley of trouble into a place of feasting and rest. “The Valley of Achor (will be) a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me.” (Isaiah 65:10)

He promises to turn the valley of trouble into the door of HOPE, and to give you abundant vineyards. “And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” Hosea 2:15

When you say “Ai Ai Captain”, he turns the valley of Trouble into the Valley of Hope and Blessing!

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