Tuesday 26th April 2022

JOSHUA 9, 10 and 11

Big Mistake Number Two makes an appearance today!  Yesterday we read how Israel disobeyed the Lord by stealing some of the plunder from Jericho that was rightly all God’s.  Today, the error was more subtle but had longer-lasting consequences.  You probably remember that the Lord had commanded Israel not to make any treaties with the nations of the Promised Land, but to totally destroy them – this was to avoid contamination from their false gods and inhumane practices, such as child sacrifice.  The Gibeonites, a tribe from a city just north of Jerusalem, were aware of this and, out of extreme fear for their lives, devised a clever subterfuge to make it appear that they really lived a great distance away, outside the boundaries of Canaan – and were therefore eligible for Israel to treaty with.  The key verse is Joshua 9:14-15: “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not enquire of the Lord”.  As a result, the treaty – for the Gibeonites to become the servants of Israel in perpetuity, in return for Israel’s protection – was ratified with an oath to God.  So, Israel’s Mistake Number Two was simply to fail to seek the Lord’s will when it mattered! 

We are always in danger of doing this in our day too.  We make decisions on what ‘seems’ right; we assume that we should accept whatever opportunity life throws at us, excusing this with the over-used old evangelical phrase: “God opened a door for me”.  This is nothing more than spiritual laziness and is just a Christianised expression of what the average pagan would call ‘Fate’.  We, who are followers of Jesus Christ, are supposed to be led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14.  Have a look at 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 where Paul even states that God had ‘opened a door for him’; but he did not have inner peace / guidance about going through it, and so did something else!  Guidance, for the Christian, is a convergence of the voice of the Holy Spirit, the teaching of the Word, the counsel of wise friends and leaders, the promptings of conscience and the favourable alignment of circumstances (what we call ‘God opening doors’).  Most of these must be in synchronisation before a decision is right for us.

Joshua, realizing that he had been outwitted, had failed to seek God, and had given his word, could do nothing but agree to honour the terms of the treaty.  The Lord wants us to be asking him for guidance on a very frequent basis, even when the choice seems very logical already.  It is what is known as ‘walking with the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:16, 18, 25).  We need to train ourselves to do this frequently during the day – for our work, our relationships, our leisure activities, our financial dealings, for decisions of all kinds – major and trivial.  Satan will try to convince us that a particular choice, or course of action, is too trivial to ‘bother’ the Lord with; but don’t listen to him, listen to God!  An additional benefit is that you train your spiritual ‘ears’ to tune in to the voice of the Spirit, ready to hear wisdom for the decisions that you regard as really important!

The failure of Joshua to actively listen to God resulted in the Gibeonites becoming a distraction to Israel.  True, it fulfilled the ancient prophecy of Noah in Genesis 9:24-26, where he predicted that “Cursed be Canaan… he will be the slave of Shem” (Shem was the forefather of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…) and Joshua alluded to that by saying in Joshua 9:23 “you are under a curse” (or ‘The curse’).  Israel was forced to honour its treaty by defending the Gibeonites against a larger Canaanite army.  Much later, the city of Gibeon became part of a ‘fault line’ that resulted in the division of Israel into the Northern and Southern kingdoms – snapping the nation into two pieces in the same way that a bathroom tile is first scored and then snapped.

In the next two chapters, we have some miraculous battles against overwhelming odds, that Israel wins comfortably with God’s help.  Also, an astronomical impossibility occurs, when God holds the sun – or the earth – still for an additional 24 hours to allow Israel to completely pursue and kill every enemy of the Amorites army.  Since the same thing occurred to the moon, it seems that God was interfering with the Earth’s spin!

To accomplish the purpose of God, in exterminating every warrior army from the face of the Promised Land, God hardened the hearts of those pagan kings, so that they continued to press for war against Israel’s army – a rock on which they were always completely destroyed.  In this way, Joshua took the entire land for God, and as an inheritance for the tribes of Israel.

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