It’s agreed by most Old Testament scholars that the heart of the Old Testament law is the book of Deuteronomy, and that the heart of Deuteronomy is the list of blessings and curses that are found in chapters 27 through 30 of that important book. Deuteronomy presupposes an eternal covenant established by God with His people. But it goes on from that fixed point to discuss the principle of blessing and lack of blessing which is based on either the obedience or disobedience of the people to the revealed law of God, which is where this list of blessings and curses comes in.

So when we look at this battle of the Jewish troops at Ai, we learn a great deal from the fact that there was no miracle this time. But notice that even though it was won by non-miraculous means, the victory was every bit as complete and every bit as much of a triumph as the victory that had been won at Jericho. You see, what God requires of us is not the experience of the unusual, but, instead, that kind of faithful obedience in everyday life, which really is the key to victory. From Israel’s point of view, the conquest of Jericho was no different than the conquest of Ai. In both cases, all they did was obey God in terms of His instructions for the battle. In one case they marched around the city, blew their trumpets, and shouted. In the other case they carried out a plan of military strategy. It was God who was laying out the strategy and giving the victory as it pleased Him. 

Let me also point out that it’s not merely that God operates in different ways in different people. God also operates in different ways in our own lives, entirely apart from other people. At one point in your life, you have a particularly thrilling experience. Things just seem to go so well for you. You’ve been testifying to God’s grace to a neighbor, and the neighbor becomes a Christian. And not only is the neighbor a Christian, but the neighbor testifies to their family, who also become Christians. And you invite them to your church and everybody is so pleased with what is going on.


Now, there are great lessons in how Israel went about the capturing of Ai. One is that God uses different methods when He deals with His people. We don't like that because we like everything to work exactly the same every time. We like God to be a computer, where as long as you push the buttons in the right way, God responds as you expect. And even if it’s God who pushes the buttons, we really think deep in our hearts that He should always push the same buttons in exactly the same order, at least when He’s dealing with us. 


It is interesting that they had to do it again. You know, in the Christian life when you and I run into difficulty, we have a tendency to think that probably what the Lord is teaching us is that this isn't the way we should go. We should bypass the difficulty in order to find an easier road. I think younger people today are particularly susceptible to that kind of thinking, but it’s not that way in the Christian life. God’s way is a difficult way in some respects and easy in others. It’s easy if we depend upon Him because He prepares the way for us. He provides the victories, but He doesn't shortcut the battles. These still have to be fought.