Taking God For Granted.
“So the Israelite leaders examined their bread, but they did not consult the LORD.“ – Joshua 9:14 NLT
Once the Israelites had purged the sin from their camp, they easily defeated the city of Ai – mainly because purging of sin had restored the presence and power of God. He was with them once again and He gave the city into their hands. Word of their subsequent defeat and destruction of the city of Ai, coupled with their victory over Jericho, had gotten around. A group of Canaanite nations joined forces to fight against Israel. They had seen what had happened to Jericho and Ai, and knew that their only hope was in an alliance against the people of Israel.
The Gibeonites, another Canaanite nation, took a slightly different approach. They decided to use deception. They used the “if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them” approach. They sent a group of emissaries to seek peace with Israel, but they dressed them in worn-out clothes and gave them old provisions and dried-out wine skins to carry. They were to tell Joshua that they were from a far-off country and head heard of the power of Israel. Their goal was to seek a peace treaty or covenant with Israel. It was perfectly acceptable for Israel to make covenants with distant cities, but they had been commanded by God to destroy ALL Canaanite cities. The city of Gibeon was just 6.5 miles from Ai!
Joshua and the leaders of Israel took the bait. They bought the lie. And the writer of the book of Joshua makes it painfully clear why they were so easily deceived. They did not seek the counsel of God. They just assumed He was with them, so they didn’t bother to ask Him. This is especially odd considering all the times Joshua had seen Moses ascend the mountain to talk with God. He should have known better. He should have realized that no matter was too small to consult with God about. It was never safe to assume that God’s input was unnecessary. Joshua had even been given clear instructions how to seek the will of God in any matter. “When direction from the LORD is needed, Joshua will stand before Eleazar the priest, who will determine the LORD’s will by means of sacred lots. This is how Joshua and the rest of the community of Israel will discover what they should do” (Numbers 27:21 NLT).
I see two truths revealed in this chapter. First of all, the enemies of God’s people will always align themselves against us. They will join forces in an attempt to defeat the kingdom of God. But they will also use deception and alliances to get us to accept them as they are. They will make peace treaties with us and encourage us to allow them to live with us in the land. Which is exactly what Joshua did. He failed to seek God’s will and so he bought the lie of the Gibeonites and made a covenant with them. When he discovered his mistake, he attempted to correct it by making the people of Gibeon slaves of Israel. But while this sounds like a fitting punishment for their deception, it allowed the people of Gibeon to remain alive and infiltrate the nation of Israel. Their presence would have long-lasting influence over the people of Israel. This allegiance would lead to future problems for the people of Israel. Years later, King Saul would attempt to wipe out the Gibeonites as part of a purge. In doing so, he would violate the covenant. The result would be famine in the land. “During David’s reign there was a famine for three consecutive years. So David inquired of the Lord. The Lord said, ‘It is because of Saul and his bloodstained family, because he murdered the Gibeonites'” (2 Samuel 21:1 NET).
God tells us, “Good advice and success belong to me. Insight and strength are mine” (Proverbs 8:14 NLT). We are to seek His counsel about any and all matters. But it is so easy to assume that some things are just up to us. We can easily fall prey to the idea that we can make decisions on our own, without seeking His advice. The world is out to deceive us. It is constantly trying to trick us and cause us to make false alliances with it. Compromise is a constant threat to God’s people. Which is why we need to seek His face. We need His counsel each and every day for each and every circumstance. It is when we get comfortable making decisions without Him that we are in real danger.
Father, I confess that there are so many times I do not seek Your counsel. I either don’t think I need it or I just don’t want to take the time. I also probably fear that if I ask Your advice, You will contradict the decision I have already made. But it is clear that living my life apart from Your input is dangerous. I am easily deceived. I am prone to make decisions that will have long-lasting implications on my life. Teach me to seek Your face in all things – big and small. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men