The Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they retreat because they have become subject to annihilation. I will no longer be with you, unless you destroy what has contaminated you.
[Josh 7:12 NET]
This is the only record in the Book of Joshua, of a lost battle. The word “therefore” tells us that it was a sin that caused this defeat, a secret sin, and the sin, too, of but one individual. How little do we know of the real causes of the failures we see about us!
All of us have our Ais, too, our defeats in battle; and very often they come just after our Jericho, our victories. It was only a little town, too, at which this disaster occurred, so small that it was thought unnecessary to send more than a handful of soldiers to take it.
Is it not often just so in our spiritual warfare? One writes, “Our greatest failures often happen in the little things of life. We miscalculate the strength of the foe; we fail to spy out the reserved forces. Indeed, we mistake, when we think it an easy matter to subdue any enemy. How often has it happened that he who has won his most signal victory in some great crisis of the church, who has rescued the truth from the teachers of false doctrine, or stormed the entrenchments of vice–has forthwith failed in some petty domestic disturbance, in some social duty, or in a trifling claim of common charity? If there is a time in life when we need more than ever to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation, it is in the hour of success.”