Welcome to the Covenant and the Cross Podcast. This is episode #126. I am your host, Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International. This podcast is designed to help you better understand the Word of God — both the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is the story of the Covenant which God made with His chosen people Israel. And the New Testament is the story of the Cross which signifies the fulfillment of the Old Covenant with Israel and the formation of a New Covenant with redeemed people from many nations.
We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s passage of Scripture is from Joshua 8:26-29 which reads: “For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the Lord which he commanded Joshua. And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day. And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.”
Regarding this passage, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown wrote in their commentary: “Joshua drew not his hand back. Perhaps, from the long continuance of the posture, it might have been a means appointed by God to animate the people, and kept up in the same devout spirit as Moses had shown in lifting up his hands, until the work of slaughter had been completed-the ban executed. Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever,. “For ever” often signifies a long time. One of the remarkable things with regard to the Tell we have identified with Ai is its name-the Tell, or the heap of stones-a name which to this day remains. The king of Ai was hanged on a tree – i:e., gibbetted. In ancient, and particularly Oriental wars, the chiefs, when taken prisoners, were usually executed-first slain by the sword, and then exposed on a gibbet for a time. The Israelites were obliged by the divine law to put them to death. The execution of the king of Ai would tend to facilitate the conquest of the land, by striking terror into the other chiefs, and making it appear a judicial process, in which they were inflicting the vengeance of God upon his enemies. It was taken down at sunset, according to the divine command, and cast into a pit dug “at the entering of the gate,” because that was the most public place. An immense cairn was raised over his grave-an ancient usage still existing in the East, whereby is marked the sepulchre of persons whose memory is infamous.”
Today’s quote about the Bible is from Charles Spurgeon who said: “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.”
Our topic for today is titled “Give Us a King Like the Rest of the Nations, Part 3” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
In this situation, the Israelites gathered their forces at Ebenezer, near Aphek, to fight the Philistines. The latter went out to squash this uprising and quickly inflicted heavy casualties on the Israelites. The Israelite leadership decided that the reason they had lost was that they did not have the ark and so needed to bring it to battle. Here we see a complete misunderstanding of what the ark was. It was supposed to be the place where God met the nation, and as such, it was holy, not because of what it was, but because of who was there. The Israelites were viewing it as a holy relic through which they could manipulate God. They soon found out they were wrong.
The priests brought the ark up from Shiloh (and I am sure both Samuel and Eli watched it go with misgivings). The battle was engaged, the Israelites lost soundly, and the ark was captured. In the process, the priests carrying the ark, including Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas, were killed. When Eli got the news, he fell backward off his seat and broke his neck. As soon as Phinehas’s pregnant wife heard the news, she went into labor. She gave birth to a baby boy whom she called Ichabod (a Hebrew name that apparently means “there is no glory”) because “the glory has departed from Israel”. She too then died.
Before telling us about Samuel, the writer relates what happened to the ark. The Philistines took this prize of war to Ashdod, one of their major cities, where they presented it as a trophy before their patron god, Dagon. The next day, however, they found the image of Dagon facedown before the ark. They reset their idol so that it would be above the ark, and the next day, they again found the image of Dagon facedown, but now with the head and hands broken off. Moreover, the people were struck by a plague of some type.
Intimidated by this obvious demonstration of the superiority of Israel’s God, the Philistines in Ashdod decided that their best course of action was to send the ark to another city, Gath. The people of Gath too were afflicted with the plague, and they quickly decided they needed to get rid of the ark, so they sent it to Ekron. However, by this time the word was out, and Ekron didn’t want the ark. The Philistine leaders then got together and decided to send it back to Israel.
To make sure that it was Israel’s God who had caused this episode, they put the ark on an oxcart with two mother cows, which had never been harnessed, yoked to the cart. They penned their calves in the opposite direction from Israel and let the cows go. The fact that they headed straight toward Israel was seen as verification that the God of Israel was involved. In addition, they included with the ark on the cart a wooden chest that contained five gold replicas of the tumors caused by the plague and five gold rats (one for each of the five Philistine cities) as a guilt offering to Israel’s God.
Let’s Pray —
Before we close, dear friend, I want to remind you that the most important thing you should know about the Bible is that it is the story of God working to save humanity from sin and the consequences of sin. He did this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins and take the punishment that we deserve on Himself. Romans 5:8 says, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you want to get to know Him today, here’s how.
All you have to do is believe “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” and you will be saved. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will.
Until next time, remember the word of God is the foundation to a successful life. God bless.