Day 12: Joshua 9
The Gibeonite Deception
The book of Joshua (like most of the Old Testament) is a story of an amazing God who fulfils his plans despite the ability of his people to continually mess up! It seems to be a succession of wonderful victories followed by disappointing failures. Here in Chapter 9 is one of those mess ups!
After the victories at Jericho and Ai the people of Canaan have heard what God is doing and the kings of the region come together to form an allied army to fight Israel. The Canaanite city of Gibeon however (who are the next city that the Israelites will come to) have a cunning alternative plan. Recognising that it is futile to fight against God they send a delegation pretending to come from a distant land (beyond the promised land) and proposing a peace treaty.
The Big Mistake
At this crucial moment the Israelites make a strategic mistake. They are taken in by the story and rather than enquire of God they make a peace treaty. When they reach Gibeon they realise they have a dilemma. They have just sworn an oath to be at peace with the Gibeonites but God had already told them to drive out the inhabitants of the land (Numbers 33:52) and that includes the Gibeonites. It is a dilemma, but as we will see God is not constrained by their mistakes – he still works this whole situation for his unfolding purposes.
What can we learn?
1. Sometimes we face outright opposition such as that of the kings in verse 2 onwards. Sometimes we face opposition that is sneaky and cunning like that of the Gibeonites. And sometimes we find it easier to deal with outright, obvious opposition than the sneaky and cunning opposition that may on the surface seem quite reasonable.
2. It’s tempting when things are going well to start relying on ourselves rather than God. The key phrase is that the Israelites “did not enquire of God”.
3. We are in a much better position than the Old Testament believers. We have the very life of God in us. We are dwelling in Christ and he lives in us. Philippians 2:13 (Message version ) says “God himself willing and working [within you] at what will give Him the most pleasure”. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to guide us and lead us. What brilliant privileges and resources we have that these Old Testament believers did not have.
4. God uses the mess ups. In the next chapter we will see (spoiler alert!) that the alliance of Canaanite kings attacks the city of Gibeon and God uses the opportunity for a stunning victory. As Dan reminded us recently, God is outside time. Somehow He uses our mess ups and failures which are not His will but He works them so his will is done. What an amazing God!
1. What opposition (either outright and obvious or cunning and sneaky) are you facing? Be assured God can help you overcome.
2. Are you keeping close to God making sure that you are always relying on His strength at work in you?
3. Are you dealing with a mess-up right now? Be assured God can still use you, despite the mess-up, for his glory!
Leadership Academy Graduate