During my days as a high school basketball coach, I made a huge mistake. I sent some of my players to scout an opponent. They returned with this report: We can take those guys easily. Overconfident, we lost to that team. Does that sound familiar? To me, it sounds like the situation at Ai when Joshua sent out his scouts, who misjudged their opponent’s strength.
But there was more to the defeat at Ai than bad scouting. Israel lost the battle and 36 soldiers for several reasons that I think we can learn from.
Shortly before the loss at Ai, Joshua led his army successfully against Jericho because he knew God’s plan of attack. But there is no mention of Joshua consulting God before Ai. Prior to the battle of Jericho, the men had consecrated themselves to God (Josh. 5:2-8). Before Ai—nothing is said about Joshua’s men preparing themselves spiritually. The reason the Bible gives for the Israelites’ loss is sin in the camp. Achan had stolen from the spoils of Jericho (7:1). They could not defeat Ai until the sin was confessed and the people had consecrated themselves (7:16-26). Then God gave them a plan for victory (8:1-7).
A winning strategy for our daily battles: confessing our sin and living in the power that God provides.