This world is full of messages and information that are deceptive and the deception is evil and destructive. In order to not be deceived by this world you must have 2 things: God’s Spirit within you AND the practice of seeking Him for EVERYTHING! God’s Presence is the only source of true discernment. Only HE knows the whole story, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
As the nation of Israel began to conquer and inhabit the promised land, they had the presence of Yahweh in their midst, God chose to inhabit their community. Now that Christ has come the 1st time…The Holy Spirit indwells believers, resulting in the presence of God inhabiting their community, OUR Community! God gives us His presence but He does not force His guidance on us, He wants us to ask for it. He is the ‘Ultimate Gentleman’.
One of the biggest problems in discerning what is really true is we have to overcome our pride, we think we know the deal…Far too often we believe we know what the truth is so we stop inquiring and processing information. The practice of remaining curious, humbly realizing that we don’t have all the information is a way we guard against pride that leads to deception.
The Nation of Israel had seen what happens when they seek God and are led by Him, and they had seen how thing go when they try it their way, in this text we see how a complacency and lack of seeking God goes.
1 Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites) — 2 they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.
- They heard about these things, the annihilation of Ai
- They convened a War Council, they made a pact (common enemy)
3 However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5 They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy.
- Gibeon was closest to where the Israelites were
- They had the best information, and chose to try something other than fighting
- They crafted a deception…
6 Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.” 7 The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?” 8 “We are your servants,” they said to Joshua. But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”
- They presented themselves and asked for a peace treaty
- The Israelites were suspicious and questioning
9 They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, 10 and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.”
- Claiming to be their servants because they have heard about their God
- They are careful to not include anything that has happened in the last month
11 “Our elders and all those living in our country said to us, Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, ‘We are your servants; make a treaty with us.”’ 12 “This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. 13 And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”
- A compelling tale that makes the Israelites think they are from a great distance
- They accept the info with further inquiry
- After hearing their story they looked at the evidence the Gibeonites offered
- They perhaps tasted and smelled their foodstuffs
- BUT THEY DIDN’T ASK GOD ABOUT IT!!!!
- Joshua made peace & oaths were sworn based on a story and moldy bread
- The evidence was real but it was without true context (the context was a lie)
- Without the proper context, information can be deceiving…
16 Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. 17 So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. 18 But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel.
- It only took three day to find out they had been duped
- Perhaps they had gone on a couple of scouting missions, talked to other locals
The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, 19 but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. 20 This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.” 21 They continued, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept.
- The people wanted to attack but the leaders feared God because of their oath
- Since they could not make war against them they enslaved them
- They were to cut & haul wood and carry water (constant, hard work)
- They were allowed to live but as slaves
22 Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? 23 You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”
- Why would you do this and be enslaved?
- Joshua pronounces a curse on them
- They will be servants of the temple / tent of meeting / altar of sacrifice
24 They answered Joshua, “Your servants were clearly told how the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. 25 We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.”
- They recognized the reality of who God was & how He was leading His people
- They figured their best chance was to fool them not fight them
26 So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. 27 That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.
- Joshua would not sacrifice His integrity to please the people
- He found a solution that let the Israelite honor their oath and further God’s plan
- God held the Israelites to their oath, (Saul broke it and was punished)
The inhabitants of Canaan / The Promised Land recognize the threat the Israelite represent and they reacted in two ways: some cities band together to fight and one smaller group create an elaborate deception to escape destruction.
The Gibeonites presented information and evidence to the Israelites that was not what it appeared to be. Facts out of context are in essence lies and deception. Deception is aided by pride because instead of questioning assumptions are made.
God’s people looked at what the world presented as the truth and did not consult the author of all truth to discern truth from lie. A lack of routine practice of seeking God resulted in them being deceived.
God’s people , led by Joshua, displayed integrity and feared God after being deceived by not going back on their oath and taking ownership of their foolishness.
The Gibeonites were saved from the just wrath of Yahweh because in their own way they honored Him and recognized his absolute sovereignty. Their destiny would be to serve the Israelite’s worship of God.
When faced with a hard situation do you look to fight or attempt deception to overcome obstacles?
How curious are you regarding the information you see about the world around you? What do you use as a guide to process that information?
How do you regularly inquire of God? What does your practice look like?
When you have made bad decisions who do you blame and why?
VISION & PRACTICE
God’s people should be aware of the deceptiveness of the information the world is giving them and guided by Scripture we are to practice regularly seeking God’s guidance rather than when we are unsure.