Joshua 8:18-29 (JDV)
Joshua 8:18 Then Yahveh said to Joshua, “Hold out the javelin in your hand toward Ai, because I will hand the city over to you.” So Joshua held out his javelin toward it.
Joshua 8:19 When he held out his hand, the men in ambush rose quickly from their position. They ran, entered the city, captured it, and immediately set it on fire.
Joshua 8:20 The men of Ai turned and looked back, and smoke from the city was rising to the sky! They could not escape in any direction, and the troops who had fled to the wilderness now became the pursuers.
Joshua 8:21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the men in ambush had captured the city and that smoke was rising from it, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai.
Joshua 8:22 Then men in ambush came out of the city against them, and the men of Ai were trapped between the Israelite forces, some on one side and some on the other. They struck them down until no survivor or fugitive remained,
Joshua 8:23 but they captured the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.
Joshua 8:24 When Israel had finished killing everyone living in Ai who had pursued them into the open country, and when every last one of them had fallen by the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the sword.
Joshua 8:25 The total of those who fell that day, both men and women, was twelve thousand – all the people of Ai.
Joshua 8:26 Joshua did not draw back his hand that was holding the javelin until all the inhabitants of Ai were completely destroyed.
Joshua 8:27 Israel plundered only the cattle and spoil of that city for themselves, according to Yahveh’s command that he had given Joshua.
Joshua 8:28 Joshua burned Ai and left it a permanent ruin, still desolate today.
Joshua 8:29 He hung the body of the king of Ai on a tree until evening, and at sunset Joshua commanded that they take his body down from the tree. They threw it down at the entrance of the city gate and put a large pile of rocks over it, which still remains today.
When people read in the book of Revelation that “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever” they often get the mistaken notion that it is describing eternal conscious torment. But passages like this remind us that the metaphor of smoke rising signifies complete destruction. As verse 26 says “all the inhabitants of Ai were completely destroyed.” Verse 28 says “Joshua burned Ai and left it a permanent ruin, still desolate today.”
God is not obligated to keep his enemies alive forever, even in torment. His plan is to rid his people of the obstacle of their existence by destroying the wicked.
Lord, thank you for a future eternity without sin or sinners.