In 1859, Charles Dickens penned the book “A Tale of Two Cities”. So named for the two cities, London and Paris, that backdrop the story of Manette. The events of the book led up to the French Revolution and what would be commonly called The Terror.
In like fashion, we have a story of two cities before us and our main character of Joshua. The events of this story lead to something we could call a terror, when a man’s entire family has to be stoned and burned because of his sinfulness.
The two cities of Jericho and Ai stand in sharp contrast one to another, and really showcase the remainder of the Canaan conquest. In these two cities we see great victory and great defeat, great faith and great faithlessness.
At Jericho, we are told that the city was considered one of the greatest strongholds of Canaan. Its walls were all but impenetrable, and its military force was formidable. Jericho truly was the fortress of the East for Canaan. God tells Joshua to perform the most unorthodox military campaign that has ever existed. They were to walk around Jericho once for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day. Hebrews 11:30 says, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” Their walking showed their absolute faith in God. The walls came down, and everyone and everything was destroyed in Jericho (except Rahab and her family). What an amazing victory.
Ai, on the other hand, was a massive defeat. Ai was just a blip on the map that didn’t even warrant losing sleep over. Only a few thousand men were estimated to be needed to take the city. Instead over thirty men lost their life, and the people’s heart melted. They were discouraged and confused, why would God allow this to happen?
The difference between Jericho and Ai, sin had entered the camp. Achan had taken that which belonged to God from Jericho because he coveted. His actions cost Israel the victory at Ai, but more humbling, they cost his family their lives. Achan, his wife, and his children were put to death by stoning and then burning. It is a very raw picture, but the reality is sin must be judged.
After the battle of Ai is won, The ceremony of the mountains takes place. Gilgal and Ebal are ascended, six tribes on one and six on the other, and the blessings and curses are rehearsed. Isn’t it incredible that Gilgal was just outside Jericho and its name connected to that victory? And, that Ebal is near Ai and its name connected to that defeat? Ebal was the place of curses pronounced and Gilgal the place of blessings.
This truly is a cautionary tell of two cities: the victory and blessings of Jericho and Gilgal, or the defeat and curses of Ai. The choice must be made, and it all boils down to faith. Do you have faith that God will do what He said, and will provide for you? Is He enough, or do you feel a need to covet after things He told you you didn’t need.
Today make the decision to live a victorious Christian life, one that is marked by faith and contentment in God. Take a moment and evaluate your life, and determine if you are indeed living in faith and victory, if not, why not? What steps do you need to take to remedy the problem? The first step always is prayer, start there and you will be amazed where God will lead you.
Daily Scripture Reading
Joshua 5 - 8
“So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.”