Archive for January 13th, 2012

Joshua 9

Joshua 9 contains a powerful lesson that we need to pay close attention to.  The word of the victory over the Amorites has spread and the kings of the other countries “heard of this….gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel”.  Isn’t it amazing how people with a common enemy will come together to try and defeat it.  Here we have a half dozen rivals that decide it is in their best interest to gang up and try to deal with Joshua as a group.

All of them, that is, except for the people of Gibeon.  They decide to take a different approach.  They weren’t drawn into the pact between nations to fight God’s people head on.  They decide to “act with cunning” and deceive the Israelites.  So they put on their old clothes, carry some old food from the fridge (ok no fridge but it was dry and crumbly stuff) and they took off to meet Joshua and the nation of Israel where they were.  The intent – to make a covenant with them pretending to be from “a distant country” which was a lie as they lived just up the road a piece.  But they played the part well and came into the camp offering to become servants to Joshua and the folks there.

Seems like a good plan doesn’t it – actually for both sides?  It does on paper – but wait – God had a different plan.  As the Israelites took the Promised Land they were to clean up and get rid of the people that were there.  But Joshua doesn’t do his homework and signs a covenant with the Gibeonites and guarantees their safety.  Where did things go wrong?  Here it is – clear as can be – the leaders “did not ask counsel from the Lord”.  That can probably describe many or most of the bad decisions we make.  When we trust our own judgment and instincts and do what seems right and makes sense – that can be a very poor decision.  Scripture tells us clearly that ‘there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death’.  What seems right is often very wrong.  Joshua experiences this first hand as he is deceived into violating God’s instructions.

So now what? They have signed a covenant to allow these people to be servants and to protect them, but it violates what God had told them to do.  As expected, the people then blame.  “Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders”.  Don’t you just love people.  They praise leaders when things are going well, but instantly turn when times get a bit tough.  Joshua is dealing with the fickle nature of people.  “But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them”.  They stay true to their covenant and don’t make a second mistake by turning on what they had just agreed to.  The lesson here is that we need to seek God continually.  We need to ask before we make decisions, especially decisions that are going to last for a very long time.  Joshua failed here.  Big mistake with a very long set of consequences!

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