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Joshua 7: 5              NIV

And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water.

So to recap, Joshua is in charge of the nation of Israel. They have crossed over the Jordan River by a miracle of God and enjoyed a supernatural victory over Jericho. Jericho was a strong and fortified city but the Israelites took it without a struggle. Now they have gone up against a small town called Ai. Joshua’s advisors told him that he only needed to send up two or three thousand men because the enemy was few. So Joshua sent up about three thousand men but the text says, “They were routed by the men of Ai” (v. 4). So what has happened here?

After the defeat of Jericho, God gave the Israelites specific instructions regarding the disposition of the spoils of war. Some of the spoils they were allowed to keep but other material was designated for the treasury of God. After the defeat at Ai, Joshua fell on his face before the Lord perplexed at how a small band of men could defeat the nation that took Jericho so easily. Wouldn’t you know, when the army of the Lord entered Jericho some of the men took what belonged to the Lord and kept if for themselves. There they sealed their fate.

This would be an appropriate place to talk about the tithe and stealing from God but there is another facet of this behavior worth considering also. Our behaviors, our hearts condemn us. It is hard to receive from God when your heart tells you that you don’t deserve His mercies and kindness. One might argue in one’s mind that the benefits of being a child of God still accrue to them but their heart will not allow them to receive. True, God still loves us, Jesus still died for us but we separate ourselves from God because of the guilt and shame in our heart of hearts.  

If there is any sin keeping you from full fellowship with the Lord of Grace simply confess it and pour the blood of Jesus over it. You never have to feel guilt over it again. But make sure you renounce it and turn away from it too. You are made clean in the blood of the lamb and in Jesus you can and should enjoy the fullness of the abundant life. Be filled with the loving grace and mercy of our Lord.

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