Holy Patience


Lord of angel armies, You are the One in whom I place all my hope and trust.


Read: JOSHUA 8:18-29

[18] Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Hold out toward Ai the javelin that is in your hand, for into your hand I will deliver the city.” So Joshua held out toward the city the javelin that was in his hand. [19] As soon as he did this, the men in the ambush rose quickly from their position and rushed forward. They entered the city and captured it and quickly set it on fire. [20] The men of Ai looked back and saw the smoke of the city rising up into the sky, but they had no chance to escape in any direction; the Israelites who had been fleeing toward the wilderness had turned back against their pursuers. [21] For when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that smoke was going up from it, they turned around and attacked the men of Ai. [22] Those in the ambush also came out of the city against them, so that they were caught in the middle, with Israelites on both sides. Israel cut them down, leaving them neither survivors nor fugitives. [23] But they took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua. [24] When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the wilderness where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. [25] Twelve thousand men and women fell that day-all the people of Ai. [26] For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed all who lived in Ai. [27] But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the LORD had instructed Joshua. [28] So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day. [29] He impaled the body of the king of Ai on a pole and left it there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take the body from the pole and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate. And they raised a large pile of rocks over it, which remains to this day.



Even with his shrewd strategy of attack, Joshua was still reliant on God for success. I’ve never been in a battle, but I wonder how difficult it must have been for Joshua to have remained sensitive and alive to God’s prompting in these circumstances (v 18). This time round, the Israelites carried out the plan and God’s instructions to the letter, and won a decisive victory, routing the fortress city of Ai.But why would God want Israel to destroy the people of Ai? Isn’t God’s very nature one of love? None of God’s attributes is independent of his holiness. Therefore everything he does is right, true and just. A passage in Genesis may give us some insight into this: “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Genesis 15:16). God had promised Abraham that although his descendants would be enslaved in Egypt he would rescue them and take them into a new land that would be their home. However, he would be patient in doing so. God would be long-suffering with the peoples who had occupied Canaan and would hold off his judgement until their sin had “reached its full measure”. But that moment has now come, and requires comprehensive action.



Pause and reflect on the patience of God (2 Peter 3:9) and his holiness (Hebrews 12:29).



Patient God, thank You that You do not give up on me. What a wonder!


Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider