Joshua 7 Defeat on the Way to Victory

God gave the people of Israel a great victory when He caused the walls of Jericho to fall. He was fighting for His people and giving them victory that they could not accomplish by themselves. Joshua 6:27 says, “And the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.” As is the case after spiritual victories, defeat and discouragement closely followed.

In Joshua 6: 17-19, Joshua clearly instructs Israel that everything taken from the city belonged to God. He warned them to stay away from “devoted things.” He told them that failure to obey God would make the camp of Israel “liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.” (NIV) One of the soldiers, Achan, son of Carmi, disobeyed this clear instruction which led to defeat for the people of God.

The next nation to conquer in the Promise Land was the people of Ai. After Joshua scouts them out, he determines that the conquest of Ai will be easy for the army and only sends three thousand men to fight. They are defeated and embarrassed by the army of Ai. The victory of Jericho is quickly overshadowed by the defeat of Ai. It is important to understand what caused the defeat at Ai. It was the disobedience of Achan, which resulted is God allowing the Israelites to fight in their own strength, leading to defeat. Sin must be dealt with in the lives of God’s people for God’s presence and power to be experienced.

Joshua is broken over this defeat and seeks the face of God. God leads him to consecrate the people and search out the disobedient tribe. Achan is found out, and he and his family are judged and stoned.

After the sin of Achan is discovered and confessed, the conquest of Ai continues. With God once again fighting for His people, Ai is soundly defeated and taking possession of the Promise Land continues.

Clear Application for Today

  • God is the source of victorious Christian living. By faith we can be strong and courageous.
  • Knowing right from wrong must be followed by obedience. Achan knew what was right and chose his will over the will of God.
  • Seeking more knowledge about God is important, but not as important as obedience to what we already know.
  • Disobedience to God strips the power of God working in our lives.
  • If we want God to fight our battles and give us power to do what He has called us to do, we must be obedient to do things God’s way.
  • Like Achan, our sin affects our family.
  • Confession of sin leads to restoration and renewed spiritual power.
  • When you surrender to the Lord, no defeat is permanent and no mistake is beyond remedy.

Is there a spiritual barrier present in your life that must be dealt with before the power of God returns in your life?