Joshua 9 The Gibeonite Deception

As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.

The people in the land of Canaan are now starting to get anxious, as they see that Israel is advancing on the land.  They are hearing the stories of how Israel is wiping out entire cities and they are afraid.  In an effort to defeat this coming enemy they join together to fight.  However, the Gibeonites have a different strategy.

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wine skins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?” They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” They said to him,“From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 10 and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. 11 So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.”’ 12 Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. 13 These wine skins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.” 14 So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. 15 And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

Again Joshua does not seek counsel from God when the opportunity presents itself.  I wonder how many times I have done the same.  How many questions must be brought before me before I realize that I should be asking God what to do?  Will I keep going, throwing myself before Him, back and forth, in His will… out of His will?

Application: Ask, pray, and seek God’s counsel before making important decisions.

The men from Gilgal are very sneaky, thinking of what might be asked of them before they set out, to make their story believable.  Satan will use truth mixed with lies to get us to believe him.  These men profess the truths about God, that He indeed destroyed the kings of the Amorites and that the people really were scared for their lives.  So often we, too, are used to confuse or dismay others.

To me seeking counsel and seeking refuge are one in the same.  The presence of sin is constantly knocking on my door, begging me to take from it instead of relying on the Spirit to sustain me.  If I cannot be comforted by God, then I will not be able to choose His will for me.  Through Christ the power of sin has been broken, but I must be able to turn to Him in all things, asking for Him to walk with me, just as He did when I was saved.

Principle: It is Christ that sustains us.  In His power is the way to destroy sin.

16 At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. 17 And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18 But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. 19 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. 20 This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.” 21 And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them.

22 Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell among us? 23 Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants, cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24 They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. 25 And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it.” 26 So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. 27 But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place that he should choose.

Because Joshua and the elders had sworn an oath to these people they did not want to break it, for fear that it would be a sin unto God.  Unfortunately, again, they did not seek counsel with God on whether or not to keep this oath that is founded upon a Gibeonite lie.  In chapter 7 Achan breaks the oath Israel swore to God, which was based on His promises.  The Lord clearly lays out to them, through Moses, what will happen if they do not utterly destroy the people in the land of their inheritance: Deuteronomy 7:1-6

When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites,Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles[b] and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

Every decision made apart from God will have consequences.  God allows those consequences to remain, even though we have already been forgiven, so we might learn from them.  Though we are dead to sin, we are still sinners.  Every day we have choices to make, and we must remain in Christ, always seeking His good and perfect will for our lives.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:1-3

Oh Lord, my sustainer, the God who sees me inside and out, make your will known to me in times of trouble and in times of peace.  Lord give me strength to rest in you, to seek you out, and to love as you have loved me.  You hold me in your mighty hand, and I am yours to mold.  Create in me a desire to know you more and more each day, and to be more and more like you, my Savior.

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