Joshua 9 Closing the back door
The Gibeonite Deception Joshua 9
Closing the Back Door
We see in Joshua 9 a story of deception. Remember that the Israelites have been told to destroy all the things that are not of God in the land. As such they have taken the cities of Jericho and the Ai and destroyed all the populations of those cities.
As a result of their success, fear of the Israelites spread throughout the region. Now the plan for the tribes in the area was either to attack the Israelites and try and defeat them before they were defeated themselves, or wait in their cities and hope they were strong enough to defend themselves against the Israelites.
The people of Gibeon were more cunning. They resorted to a ruse. They dressed up a delegation to appear as though they had traveled for many weeks from a great distance in order to make a treaty with the Israelites. The Israelites having no interest in such a distant country might accept them and agree to a treaty not to attack the distant country.
Now Gibeon was a city just north of Jerusalem. There is a site there called el-Jib showing a late bronze age city with an excellent water supply. The gibeonites were in league with a number of neighbouring towns but seem to have been dominant in the confederation.
Now the men of Israel listened to the Gibeonites and enquired where they were from. They checked out their food and provisions. Based on what they could see Israel accepted the story of the Gibeonites and made a treaty with them to let them live in peace.
Three days later the Israelites discovered that they had been conned and advanced on the Gibeonite cities where the Gibeoites were to be household servants of the Israelites.
Now notice what has happened here. First, you can hardly blame the Gibeonites for using a ruse to escape certain death. It says in Luke 16:8,
For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.
The Gibeonites represent the people of this world who are wise enough to do what is in their own best interests. Theie plan works and their lives are saved even if they are now slaves.
Second, what of the Israelites. They made another mistake in the land. They relied on what they saw with their eyes and accepted at face value the lie of the Gibeonites, believing they were from a great distance. The truth was veiled from their eyes. Behind every thing we can see in the natural there is a truth that is hidden in the spiritual. The spiritual cannot be discerned by looking at the physical
Third, the only way the spiritual truth can be discerned is to seek the revelation of God over a situation. The Israelites failed to seek God and so were deceived. God was their king and their leader. When the Israelites failed to ask God what was happening they acted from their own understanding and failed.
From this point on the compromise of the Israelites meant that there would always be non believers in the land. When we apply this truth to our own spiritual journey, certain truths become evident. When we seek to obey the commands of God we can expect two forms of opposition – direct (the kings in the area began to unite against the Israelites), and indirect (the Gibeonites resorted to deception).
We can expect similar opposition as we seek to obey God’s commands. To guard against these pressures we must rely on God and communicate daily with him. He will give us strength to endure the direct pressures and the wisdom to see through the trickery.
When we fail to seek the revelation of God in our own journey we can so easily compromise our holiness and accept certain standards that are of the world and not of God. Jesus is our king and as such we should seek the direction of the king in the day to day decisions of our lives. Failure to do so may result in a compromise with the world.
Now if we are involved in a spiritual conflict, we will probably get on our knees and pray for insight and help. Joshua as a commander of an army knew enough to seek God before leading his troops into battle.
But what happens when everything seems to be innocent and peaceful. This is where Joshua was conned. His instinct to seek God was compromised because the delegation arrived peacefully. How easy it is to be duped by things that appear to be good. If something is obviously difficult we will seek God’s help, but when things appear to be peaceful, our guard can be let down and we are attacked through the back door.
It is like the man who stands at the front door of his house armed to the teeth, ready to fight off every foe. He has searchlights on and machine gun turrets ready for action. There is no way any enemy could get in the front door. But while he is reasy for battle, the back door is left open for the enemy to creep in unawares.
Now let me make this a little bit clearer. We might be alert to the dangers of say, pornography. We would never read certain magazines and certainly not have them in the house. But we might be happy to watch a movie with the compulsory sex scene and think that we are unaffected by it because it was in the context of the show. We are armed and ready for battle against overt attacks that degrade and debase people, but have failed to realise that we are being deceived by the pornography hidden in the context of the movie. We are armed to the teeth at the front door and have left the back door open.
Now the big question surely must be how are we to be alert in all situations? Isn’t it impossible to be on our guard at all times?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 it is written,
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire;
Note that these instructions are commands. We are expected to do these things. We are commanded to be joyful always and to pray continually and not to put out the Spirit’s fire.
In Philippians 4:6 Paul writes,
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
1 Timothy 2:1-2,
1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Note it is as our mind is renewed that we are able to test and approve what God’s will is. How is our mind to be transformed?
1 Peter 1:14-16 states,
14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
We are called to be holy in all we do, just as Jesus is holy. How do we know what is holy? Through the reading and application of the Word of God.
We are not transformed through the philosophies or the wisdom of this world. The wisdom of the world may seem logical and make sense when we look at things on the surface, but when we look through spiritual eyes it becomes clear that the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. See 1 Corinthians 1:20-21,
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
Wisdom comes from the Spirit. See 1 Corinthians 2:6-7,13-16,
6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.
The only way to know spiritual things or to have our mind transformed is to have the mind of Christ. The only way we can know spiritual things is to know what is of Christ. These things are spiritually discerned. They are discerned by the Spirit of Jesus at work in our lives. We are transformed when our minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit.
So how do we stay alert at all times to the things of God? By listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit who lives in us and who speaks in spiritual words in our spirits.
How do we hear these spiritual words? Sometimes we call it intuition. When we feel we should do this or that. When we say, I don’t know what made me say this or that or when something just pops into our minds. Of course we must check out that what we are hearing is of God. If it is in line with the biblical message, then we should follow that quiet prompting for that is probably of God.
Abelard, one of the great minds of the 12th century wrote,
“I do not want to be a philosopher if it means resisting St. Paul; I do not wish to be Aristotle if it must separate me from Christ.” Abelard sought to evaluate and understand his faith in the light of reason. His motto, “I understand so that I might believe.”
When we seek to follow Jesus, we are not asked to leave aside our minds but to let our minds be transformed. I think Abelard offers a good balance. We should not let the world dictate to us, but rather we should we should use our minds to evaluate and understand our faith, a faith that springs up from within our spirit where the Spirit of God is at work.
So if we are to effectively close the back door so that the enemy can not get in and cause disruption, then we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds by the work of the Holy Spirit deep at work in our spirit. We need to learn to listen to the voice of the Spirit which is on a level beyond words.