Read Joshua 9 -- 10
In Today's Reading:
Once again the Israelites fail to ask the Lord for guidance and, this time, they are deceived by the Gibeonites. We all agree acting first and praying second is so easy to do. But learn what Joshua does that results in victory after victory as he conquers the southern portion of the Promised Land without the loss of one soldier.
Verse for Today:
When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai . . . they went to Joshua . . . at Gilgal and said. . . . From a very far country your servants have come because of the Name of the Lord your God: for we have heard the fame of Him, and all that He did in Egypt, And all He did to the two kings of the Amorites . . . to Sihon . . . and to Og. . . . We are your servants: therefore now make a league (covenant) with us. . . . And the (Israelite) men took of their food, and did not ask counsel . . . of the Lord. . . . And Joshua . . . made a league with them, to let them live (Joshua 9:3).
Israel's treaty with Gibeon; Gibeon attacked; God intervenes by sending a great hailstorm and causing the sun and moon to stand still so Israel can defeat the five Amorite kings.
Israel's league with the Gibeonites without first praying about it should impress upon us how fallible our human reasoning is. If Joshua had prayed for the Lord's guidance, he never would have agreed to the treaty. However, Joshua and the leaders of the tribes of Israel had sworn to them (the Gibeonites) by the LORD God of Israel (Joshua 9:18). Following this when five Canaanite kings attempted to inflict vengeance upon the Gibeonites for surrendering to Joshua, the Israelites defended them. Joshua did not break his covenant, even though the Gibeonites had deceived him.
God, in His marvelous way, sent great hailstones upon the armies of the five kings and extended the day resulting in a spectacular victory when more . . . (Canaanites) died with hailstones than . . . the Israelites slew with the sword (10:11).
The sacredness of Israel's covenant with the Gibeonites, sworn to by God's Name, can be seen 400 years later when Saul broke that covenant and slew some of the Gibeonites (2 Samuel 21:1-14). This resulted in the judgment of God on Israel through a famine that lasted three years. We should never take an oath in the Name of the Lord lightly and decide later to break it. God had said to Israel: You shall not swear by My Name falsely, neither shall you profane the Name of your God: I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:12).
Through this example, the Lord also teaches us that the wrong done by another does not give us the right to do a similar wrong. One sin never justifies another. One of the characteristics of the children of God that distinguishes us from all other people is that we overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). God wants us to learn from the Gibeonite covenant how important it is to keep our commitments (compare Numbers 30:2).
Just as the moldy bread seemed to be visible proof of the strangers' words (Joshua 9:12-13), too often we make foolish decisions based on what we see or think, without first seeking the Lord's will. Too late we often ask God to bless our misguided or faulty decisions and later pray that God will get us out of a bad situation.
Success in spiritual warfare, as well as in daily decisions as to where we go and what we do, is achieved when we recognize that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:23).
A Thought from Psalms: I have remembered Your Name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept Your Law (119:55).
As the One through Whom we have victory (Joshua 10:25; compare 1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14).
9:4 bottles = containers made of animal skins; 9:5 clouted = patched sandals; 9:6 league = peace treaty; 10:10 discomfited them = caused them to panic, thus creating confusion (compare Psalms 18:14); 10:40 springs = ravines; gulches.
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Optional Reading: John 7
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:14