So those in ambush arose quickly out of their place; they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and they entered the city and took it, and hurried to set the city on fire. And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and behold, the smoke of the city ascended to heaven. So they had no power to flee this way or that way, and the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back on the pursuers. Joshua 8:19-20
A Quick Recap
In Joshua chapter seven, Joshua acted carnally, grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, when in his flesh, he went out against the people of Ai without consulting the Lord. As a result he was handed a bitter defeat. This time around (in chapter eight), Joshua is obedient to the Lord’s directives and is given a sweet victory. The reversal serves to remind us that when the Lord is grieved, He is not angry at us, but yearns to express His compassion towards us. Our God is the God of enumerable opportunity!
A Picture of Jesus
I wanted to camp on this particular passage because it illustrates for us [again] how Joshua is a picture [or type] of Jesus Christ—a prophetic glimpse of our Lord and Savior. The verse talks about the enemy, in this case the people of Ai, becoming powerless when they thought Joshua had been beaten down and defeated. As it turns out they were the conquered ones.
It reminds me of how satan and his demons were similarly immobilized; believing for a short moment they had defeated Jesus. However, their powerless condition and hopeless destiny were realized three days later when they discovered no grave could restrain our King. Like the people of Ai, the sensation of helplessness was warranted.
A Picture of Us
For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity. Proverbs 24:16
It is a promise from God that in this life there will be tribulation. At the onset of these trials, the enemy and our detractors will look upon us and most assuredly delight in our sufferings. What they fail to realize is that these things serve to refine a believer, not defeat him. Predictably, witnessing us rise to our feet by the hand of Jesus causes them to crumple. It often seems as if the enemy has forgotten that their authority was stripped away two thousand years ago on Calvary. When we stand for Jesus our enemy calls to mind his helpless condition and relives his defeat. On the other hand if you want to make satan smile, stay down when you stumble.