14. Ai Overcome (Jos 8)

Josh 8:1-8 & 30-35
1 Now the LORD said to Joshua: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. 2 “And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it.” 3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai; and Joshua chose thirty thousand mighty men of valor and sent them away by night. 4 And he commanded them, saying: “Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. 5 “Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city; and it will come about, when they come out against us as at the first, that we shall flee before them. 6 “For they will come out after us till we have drawn them from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing before us as at the first.’ Therefore we will flee before them. 7 “Then you shall rise from the ambush and seize the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. 8 “And it will be, when you have taken the city, that you shall set the city on fire. According to the commandment of the LORD you shall do. See, I have commanded you.”

30 Now Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel in Mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.


278. (2) Evils cannot be removed unless they appear. We do not mean that a person has to commit evils in order for them to appear, but that he must examine himself, not only his deeds, but also his thoughts, and what he would do if he did not fear the laws and disgrace – especially what evils he makes in his spirit allowable and does not regard as sins, for these he continues to do.
To enable a person to examine himself, he has been given an intellect, and this separate from his will, in order that he may know, understand and acknowledge what is good and what is evil, and may also see the character of his will, or what he loves and what he desires. For a person to see this, his intellect has been endowed with a higher and lower thought, or an inner and outer thought, that from the higher or inner thought he may see what his will is doing in the lower or outer thought. He sees this as someone sees his face in a mirror, and when he does, and knows what sin is, he can, if he implores the Lord’s aid, stop willing it, refrain from it, and subsequently behave contrary to it. If he cannot do this readily, still he can overcome it through struggle, and at last become averse to it and abhor it. Moreover, for the first time then he perceives and also feels that evil is evil and good good, and not before.
This, now, is what it is to examine oneself, to see one’s evils and acknowledge them, to confess them, and afterward to desist from them.
But as those people are few who know that this is the essence of Christian religion, because they alone have charity and faith, and they alone are led by the Lord and do good from Him, we will say something about people who do not do this and yet think that they possess religion. They are the following:
1. People who confess themselves guilty of all sins, and do not search out any in themselves.
2. People who as a matter of religion fail to search out any sin in themselves.
3. People who because of worldly involvements give no thought to sins and so are not aware of them.
4. People who are favorably disposed to them and are therefore prevented from being aware of them.
5. In all such cases sins are not apparent, and therefore cannot be removed.
6. Finally, we will make manifest the reason, previously unknown, why evils cannot be removed unless they are examined, seen, acknowledged, confessed, and struggled against.


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