Ai was a Canaanite royal city with a population of 12000 people. In her journey towards owning the territories promised her, Israel made the decision to fight against Ai. Joshua sent out just three thousand of his soldiers, having been counseled to do so by the men he’d sent to spy out the city. Involving the best soldiers wasn’t necessary they’d said, because the population of Ai was weak and unaccustomed to battle.
Israel’s plan failed – thirty six of her soldiers died in the battle and the rest returned with slumped shoulders and fallen chests. Hell.
Achan: a thief in Israel brought a disadvantage to Israel. He’d disregarded the directives of his, their Maker – and by doing so gave Israel a firsthand experience of the misfortune of fighting battles without Him as your ally – even when you appear to be the top dog.
Herein, the first part of the story of Ai, found in the 7th and 8th chapter of Joshua’s Book, is summarized.
This probably was not intended by whoever named cities, but it is somewhat interesting to find how in the first mention of Ai in Joshua’s book, it is described as a place near Bethaven and on the east of Bethel.
And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel
Bethaven and Bethel were used as references to describe the location of Ai.
BETHAVEN and BETHEL
If we took out the first three letters (BET) of both words, we would have ‘HAVEN’ and ‘HEL’ left. Don’t they sound just like ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’?
Joshua couldn’t understand why Israel fled Ai, and did just what he knew to do; he asked for God’s view point to which He answered despite being regarded, in this case, as the last resort rather than the first call. He exposed Achan’s disobedience in thievery, gave instructions on how it was to be settled, which Joshua obeyed.
Israel went out against Ai again, and at her second time of asking, she found Heaven.
Ai means many things to many people. It could be the choice of a life partner, a career path, or life as a whole.
How do you react to Ai’s when they come and go? Do you in them forget, forsake your Maker, and judge wrongly? Maybe you have no idea you judge wrongly, since it always brings a result (but not the result). Or you are fortunate to always have a part of you routed by the people and things you find at your Ai when you decide alone. Why suffer still when the Father’s there to guide?
Heaven wasn’t Israel’s victory over Ai. Heaven was the privilege she was afforded to realize the insufficiency of her strength and the infinite sufficiency of God’s. Heaven isn’t the milk, the honey, the happiness, the laughter, the comfort, the beauty and wonder. Heaven is the presence of the Father.
He’s long offered you heaven through Christ; you’ve probably already seen this offer a few times, why not put your hands in His? Why linger? Why wait?
What we often call heaven is nothing without the Sun in it. He makes heaven what it is. He is Heaven.
Have you found Heaven?
Bethel is often suggestive of something positive in its use in the Christian faith, despite its use in this post.
Image courtesy: bhmpics.com