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(Monday, 10-15-07) Prayer 11 - Joshua's Prayer in Defeat

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Joshua 7:2-15

Joshua and the Israelites had just experienced one of the greatest military victories in history at Jericho. It was great for the simple fact that they didn’t win the battle, God did. His power felled the walls of the city and made it possible for Israel to defeat Jericho’s army.

However, not all was well. Achan disobeyed God, and kept some of the spoils of war for himself. When Israel next went up against Ai, they thought they would only need a few thousand men, certainly not the whole army. Ai was just a small and insignificant town.

But, the men of Ai routed Israel. They killed several and sent the rest fleeing for their lives. Then Joshua prayed.

What Can We Learn?
1. This defeat was precipitated by a presumptuous self-confidence. There is no evidence of reliance on God, but rather an unwise estimate of their own ability to win the battle at Ai.
2. The defeat was also precipitated by an outright disobedience of God’s commands (Achan).
3. Joshua’s prayer sounds very much like the complaints of Israel out in the wilderness. It evidences a misplaced faith.
4. Joshua appears to be apologizing for Israel’s failure to defeat Ai. He still doesn’t seem to connect lack of victory to a problem between them and God.
5. God is very direct in his response to Joshua. “Get up. The problem is sin.”
6. The reason for defeat was that God was not with them.
7. God’s instruction was twofold:
a) Consecrate the people
b) Get rid of the banned items

Questions to Ponder
1. So soon following the victory at Jericho, how do you explain Israel’s lack of connection between God’s power, their relationship to him, and victory?
2. What sinful elements are involved in Israel’s determination that it would only take 2 – 3 thousand men to defeat Ai?
3. In Joshua 7:8, what do you think Joshua understood to be the reason they lost the battle at Ai?
4. Why do you think God allowed the sin of one man to affect the entire nation?
5. What is the one thing most “right” about Joshua’s prayer?
6. Why would God not allow his people to experience victory as long as there was sin in the camp?
7. What did God have in mind when he commanded that the people consecrate themselves?
8. In how many ways did God answer Joshua’s prayer?

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