Joshua 5:13-10 Chapter Study

INTRODUCTION

As we come to our study tonight, Israel has taken its first steps in the Promised Land.

God miraculously dried up the waters of the Jordan River which were at flood stage, & the entire nation of some 3 million quickly crossed over.

Critics of the Bible scoff at this and say there is no way this many people could have crossed the Jordan is such a short time.  Yes they could have.

At the end of ch. 3, we’re told just how long a stretch of the river was dried up - 17 to 18 miles, so it wouldn’t have been difficult to get them all over in a single day.

Especially since the nation was used to making such journeys.

The critics forget that Israel was well organized & quite proficient at marching in ordered ranks as they had just spent the past 40 years doing so all over the wilderness.

And when the waters of the Jordan parted, the entire nation was standing there, all packed up and ready to go.

Yes, 3 million is a lot of people, but it would not have been difficult in the least for them all to get across in a day.

Then we read that they did 2 things which we covered in our study Sunday –

First - They made two pillars of stones from the riverbed of the Jordan as memorials to the power of God that ushered them into the Promised Land.

Second – all the men of Israel were circumcised.

We learn that none of the men born since the Exodus had been circumcised.

Now that they are back in the land promised to Abraham & his descendants, they must take the mark signifying that promise.

Once they’re recovered from the operation, then it’s time to get busy with the next phase of their lives in Canaan – Conquest!

That part of the story begins in ch. 6, & the last verses of ch. 5 really ought to have been a part of it . . .

II. Conquering the Enemy Chs. 6-12

A. The central campaign Chs. 6-9

13And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand.

Between the Jordan & the city of Jericho, the land is flat & incredibly lush & fertile.

There’s a space of some 6 miles between the river & the city.

As Israel was camped at Gilgal recovering from the circumcision of the males, Joshua goes out to assess the first challenge they will face – Jericho.

As we saw last week, Jericho was a fortress city which controlled access to the central highlands of Canaan.

At this time, the land of Canaan was divided up into small & medium sized city-states.

These city-states were ruled by kings who lived in a central fortress cities like Jericho.

Time had taught these various city-states that the only way they could hold on to their territory was by forming alliances.

So whenever a foreign army threatened invasion, they would band together.

Joshua knew the key to success in conquering the land lay in driving a wedge right through the heart of Canaan, dividing the nation from north to south so that these city-states couldn’t reinforce each other.

Jericho was one of the premier city-states that lay in the middle of the land, protecting the roads that led up into the central highlands, going west.

It was also located on the main north-south highway connecting Asia & Africa.

All the trade that traveled back & forth from the empires of Mesopotamia & Egypt passed by Jericho, so it was a very wealthy city.

In the ancient world, whoever controlled the trade routes influenced the world.

And that is why all the ancient empires tried to extend their influence over this region.

So, as Israel was recovering, Joshua went out to look at Jericho and plot a strategy for taking it.

But he met a man with a drawn sword – which meant battle was imminent.

And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

Joshua’s question reveals that while the man looked like a normal soldier, he knew there was more here than met the eye.

If this man’s appearance had been radiant & glowing, Joshua would have known he was a heavenly messenger.

But he looked like a regular guy.  What clued Joshua to the fact that there was more going on here than just some guy ready for a fight was that he was alone.

Mercenaries were common, and Joshua may have surmised this guy was a mercenary.

If so, then he was either coming to offer his services to Israel, or he was gathering intel on Israel which he planned on selling to the king of Jericho.

So Joshua asks him – “Who are you fighting for? Whose side are you on, ours or theirs?”

14So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

The man’s reply isn’t really an answer to the question Joshua asked.

Joshua asked, “Whose side are you on?” and the answer was, “No!”

In other words, “Those aren’t the only two options, Joshua.”

“You want to know whose side I’m on?  I’m on the Lord’s side! In fact, I’m the commander of Yahweh’s army.”

Joshua’s chief concern in the conquest of Canaan was to keep the alliances of the land from forming.

And now, on the even of their first great challenge, he comes face to face with the reality that Israel holds an alliance with an army that makes the mighty Canaanites look like a bunch of punks with sticks, and their fortresses nothng but a shabby booth.

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” 15Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua realizes this is none other than an appearance of God, so he does the right thing, he worships.

With the instruction him to take off his sandals for the place is holy, Joshua would have remembered his mentor’s calling at the burning bush on Mt. Sinai.

Here now is the Lord, giving a similar call to Joshua.

Moses’ call had been to lead Israel OUT of bondage –

Joshua’s calling is to lead them INTO blessing.

[Summary]

Who is this who appeared to Joshua?

He calls Himself the “Commander of the army of the Lord.”

Michael is presented as the Lord’s warrior.  [Dan 10:13, 21, 12:1   Jude 9   Rev 12:7]

No angel – Joshua’s worships!

This is Jesus – who Hebrews 2:10 calls the captain of our salvation.

A Christophany – an appearance of Jesus before His incarnation.

Why did Jesus appear here?

A crucial moment – Israel first battle in Canaan.

The battle plan very strange – so needed this obvious direction from God.

Also, as the commander of the army of Israel, Joshua needed to submit to a higher commander; he needed to be actively submitted to the Lord.

Before Israel could conquer her enemies, she had to be conquered by her God.

And so it always is for the people of God – to conquer our enemy we must be conquered by our God.

Before we can overcome the challenges before us, we must be overcome by the God above us.

As James makes clear – first submit to God, then resist the devil and he will flee.

1Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.  2And the Lord said to Joshua:

This makes it clear that the One he met was God -

“See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. 

At this point, Jericho’s mighty defenses are all set to repel Israel’s invasion.

The city is shut up tight and well stocked for a long siege.

Yet God says, “See! I’ve given you victory.”

Vision!

3You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.  4And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.  5It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

There’s the battle plan. [Repeat]

A siege could last for months, often broken by other in the alliance.

This one - 1 week!

Jericho’s walls formidable.

6Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.”  7And he said to the people, “Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the Lord.” 8So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord advanced and blew the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them.  9The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. 

The one’s marching in this procession were Israel’s men of war, not the women & children.

And as before, 6 tribes in front, then the priests and ark, 6 tribes behind.

10Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.”  11So he had the ark of the Lord circle the city, going around it once. Then they came into the camp and lodged in the camp. 12And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord13Then seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually and blew with the trumpets. And the armed men went before them. But the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets.  14And the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. So they did six days.

An eerie sight – not a word, just the sound of the trumpets.

Why did God have them do this for 6 days – why not just get it over with in 1 day?

What was reinforced in Israel’s mind every day they tramped around the city?

“That is a big wall!”

This is why God told them not to talk – didn’t want them distracted.

He wanted them to realize Jericho was a nut too tough to crack, a foe beyond their skill to conquer.

The only sound was that of the priests’ horn –calling attention to one thing – God was in the center of Israel.

15But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times.  16And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city!  17Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 

Jericho was to be put to the torch. 

Everything in it was to be burned, just like the whole burnt offering, nothing was kept back.

As their first conquest, it was totally dedicated to God.

The only exception was Rahab’s household because the spies had sworn an oath of protection to her.

18And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 

“Accursed things” – idols & idol paraphernalia.

The destruction of Jericho & killing of all its inhabitants wasn’t just because it was in Israel’s “way.”

God brought Israel to Canaan, not only to fulfill His promise to Abraham, but He brought them right at this time to be the agent of His righteous judgment on the utterly wicked Canaanites.

The archaeology of this period shows this was a sick culture in its death throes.

They were practicing human and child sacrifice.  Women were brutalized.

Torture, incest, & corruption were the norm.

In Gen. 15:16, God told Abraham his descendants would return to the land when the wickedness of its inhabitants had reached its zenith.

Jericho’s destruction was nothing less than the judgment of God.

And Joshua warns Israel not to take as the spoils of war anything that smacks of the evil of Canaan.

19But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.”

The only thing that will be kept out of the spoils of Jericho’s defeat is the metal that can be melted, and so purified.

This will go into the tabernacle treasury as a kind of first fruits.

 20So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.  21And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

When the wall fell, the army of Israel rushed in to carry out a more conventional conquest of the city.

Every living thing was put to the sword.

Critics like to attack passages like this and ask. “How can a God of love command such bloodshed?”

The critic who asks this shows a lack of historical perspective.

God had given these nations hundreds of years to repent & had sent prophets among them with His word & truth, as the story of Balaam & the book of Job shows.

Lev. 18 gives us an idea of just how hideous and wicked the practice sof the Canaanites were.

But they refused to repent and grew worse & worse.

The story of Rahab shows us that anyone in Canaan could have turned & been saved.

The fall of Jericho teaches us that God sometimes uses war to chasten & even to destroy nations that forget Him.

22But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.”  23And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel24But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord25And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

When Rahab’s family was first delivered, they were made to stay outside the camp of Israel because they weren’t seen as being part of the covenant people of God.

But they made it clear they didn’t just want to be saved from judgment, they wanted to worship and follow Israel’s God – so they were embraced by the nation & became a part of Israel.

What’s interesting is that we learn in Matthew, that Rahab ended up marrying into the tribe of Judah and became an ancestor of Jesus.

26Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.”

Joshua laid a curse on the site of Jericho lest the city be rebuilt.

He intended it to be a perpetual reminder of God’s judgment.

He knew that the man who rebuilt Jericho would be a godless fool who failed to heed the lessons of the past.

And because of that he would repeat the very same sins of ancient Jericho.

In 1 Kings 16:34 we read the fulfillment of Joshua’s prophecy.

In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the Lord, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun

Practice of Canaanites to mix the blood of their child with the mortar of their walls.

Though Hiel lived hundreds of years after Joshua, the Israelites were turning back to the ancient wickedness of the Canaanites.

Thos who do not learn the lesson of history are doomed to repeat them.

27So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout all the country.

Chapter 7

1But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.

A little foreshadowing.

2Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, “Go up and spy out the country.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.  3And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few.”  4So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai.  5And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

Not a man had been lost in the conquest of Jericho.

But now, at Ai, which was nothing compared to Jericho, 36 were killed.

6Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 

Joshua sees this defeat as a horrifying thing.

If tiny Ai can send Israel running, then it won’t be long before the Canaanites take heart, for mighty Israel isn’t as invincible as was originally thought.

7And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord GOD, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan8O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies?  9For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?” 10So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face?  11Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.  12Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you. 

God gives Joshua a gentle rebuke.  He’s getting all worked up & laying the blame for Israel’s defeat in God’s lap.

God is silent until Joshua says this, then He speaks up, “Hold on!  Don’t blame me!  It ought to be obvious Josh – Israel failed, not Me!”

Then God tells Joshua how to deal with it.

13Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the Lord God of Israel: “There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you.”  14In the morning therefore you shall be brought according to your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the Lord takes shall come according to families; and the family which the Lord takes shall come by households; and the household which the Lord takes shall come man by man.  15Then it shall be that he who is taken with the accursed thing shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.’”

16So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel by their tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken.  17He brought the clan of Judah, and he took the family of the Zarhites; and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man, and Zabdi was taken.  18Then he brought his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.

When I read this, wonder – why didn’t Achan just step forward and confess his sin?

Sin makes you stupid.

People think they can hide sin, get away with it.

They can’t – as Numbers 32:23 says, “Be sure your sin will find you out.”

19Now Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20And Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done:  21When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.” 22So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver under it.  23And they took them from the midst of the tent, brought them to Joshua and to all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the Lord24Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of [Trouble] Achor.  25And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. 26Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day.

Since this is my text for Sunday, I’ll leave further comment tillthen.

Ch. 8

In this chapter we read how Joshua defeated Ai.

He sent a large force in secret behind the city to lie in ambush.

Another force of 5,000 was sent to block reinforcements coming from nearby Bethel [v. 12]

Then he staged another attack like the first, acting all timid.

When the men of Ai came roaring out, the forces of Israel turned and ran away as before.

This drew all the men of the city out. Why? Spoils!

Once the city was empty of defenders, those waiting in ambush rose and attacked the city.

The men of Ai realized their city was on fire and turned to defend it, but then realized the men they’d been pursuing had only feigned retreat.

They turned on the men of Ai and attacked.

Caught between two huge forces.

28So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day.  29And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.

With these two victories, Israel has carved out a secure beach head in Canaan.

So Joshua moved to do something God had commanded them to do when they entered the Land.

30Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal,  31as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.  32And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.  33Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel34And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law.  35There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.

In Deut. 27-28 we find Moses’ instructions on what they were to do.

The Mts. Ebal & Gerizim were right next to each other with a little valley between them.

Moses said they were to build an altar on Mt. Ebal, then the people were to divide into 2 groups, half the tribes on the rising slope of Ebal, the other half opposite them on Gerizim.

They were to write the words of the law on massive white-washed boulders, and read them while the people pronounced blessings for obedience to the law from Mt. Gerizim, & curses on disobedience from Mt. Ebal.

The idea here is that now that they’ve come to the heart of the land, the heart & center of their nation is the Word of God.

Ch. 9

1And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon—the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite—heard about it,  2that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord.

Israel hasn’t completed its drive to cut Israel in 2 & the Canaanites realize they need to do something quick – so they call for an alliance & begin the march on Israel.

It turns out that before they can meet up, Joshua will complete his central campaign & isolate the north from the south.

While the rest of the Canaanites decided to opposed Israel militarily, one group realized fighting Israel was a losing proposition.

They decided to try a different tactic – forge an alliance WITH them.

3But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai,  4they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended,  5old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy.  6And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”

These were Hivites who lived in Gibeon, a city a few miles northwest of Jerusalem.

The Hivites were one of the many Canaanite people scattered all over this area.

They were ruled by different kings whose city-states dominated a region.

Gibeon was the lead city of a 4 city confederacy. [9:17]

These Hivites broke ranks with the rest of the Canaanites and decided to side with Israel.

But word had gone out to the Canaanites that Israel had been given a directive by their God to utterly wipe out the Canaanites and to make no alliance with them.

The only way they could secure a peace treaty was by deception.

So they made it look as though they came from a great distance by taking old bread, battered cloths, and worn our supplies.

7Then the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you dwell among us; so how can we make a covenant with you?”

The men of Israel realized this might be a deception – that’s important – take note of that.

8But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?” 9So they said to him: “From a very far country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt,  10and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan—to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth.  11Therefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say to them, “We are your servants; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”’  12This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy.  13And these wineskins which we filled were new, and see, they are torn; and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey.” 14Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord

These Gibeonites have done a masterful job with their deception, & it fooled Joshua & the other leaders of Israel.

Joshua’s failure was in not consulting God.

He ought to have, for if he had he would have discovered the truth.

There was something about the situation that caused the leaders at first to think they were being played by the Gibeonites.

But instead of following through on their instincts and seeking God, they went with the evidence their senses showed.

Instead of walking by faith, they walked by sight.

It’s easy to draw the conclusion that we don’t need to consult God in things that are just plain common sense.

We have the idea that we don’t need to bother the Lord with the mundane things of daily life.

Why think through and seek God on things that seem so obvious and clear?

The answer to that is simple – because we have an enemy who will use any and all means to rip us off.

Walking in the Spirit means the moment by moment sensitivity to follow the Lord’s counsel & direction, taking nothing for granted.

You know, even though the evidence was so obvious, and the conclusion so clear for Joshua, what was the big deal about simply taking this to the Lord and asking Him, “Should we make an alliance with these guys?”

Before you sign your name on the bottom line of the contract to buy a car, do you pray?

Before you consent to go out with the buds after work, do you pray?

When you’re flipping the remote from channel to channel and settle on a program, do you ask, if God wants you to watch it?

Now, I know some will say – “That’s taking this religion thing too far.”

But wait – if God is real, and He is here, with us right now – can you take it too far?

If the choices we make today, even the tiny one’s have far-reaching consequences we don’t see – then shouldn’t we run them by the One who stands IN OUR FUTURE and knows the end from the beginning?

15So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them. 16And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them.  17Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim.  18But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers.

At this point, the people of the nation are obedient to the Lord, desiring to follow through on the command to wipe out the Canaanites.

When they discover that a treaty’s been made with a group that leaves smack dab in the middle of the land, they’re steamed, and rightly so.

They were ill served by their leaders, because their leaders led by sight, not faith.

19Then all the rulers said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel; now therefore, we may not touch them.  20This we will do to them: We will let them live, lest wrath be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them.”  21And the rulers said to them, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers for all the congregation, as the rulers had promised them.”

While the Gibeonites were protected by an oath to preserve their lives, there’d been no other arrangements so they were set to serve as a workforce of manual labor to the rest of Israel.

22Then Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell near us?  23Now therefore, you are cursed, and none of you shall be freed from being slaves—woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.” 24So they answered Joshua and said, “Because your servants were clearly told that the Lord your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing.  25And now, here we are, in your hands; do with us as it seems good and right to do to us.”  26So he did to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, so that they did not kill them.  27And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, in the place which He would choose, even to this day.

As we’ll see in our study next week in ch. 10, the Gibeonites become the trigger by which God gives Israel victory over the southern half of Israel.

And alliance of 5 Canaanites kings comes to punish Gibeon for forsaking their confederacy & because of the treaty, Israel comes to her defense and ends up conquering the 5 kings and their city-states.

What’s the lesson is all this for us?  What does Gibeon represent?

Sin we ought to conquer, but it manages to stay alive because it’s so stinking sneaky.

We end up making a treaty with it – assigning ourselves to the inevitability that we’ll never conquer it.

But what we do, in a positive way – is we make it our servant, just as Joshua made the Gibeonites the servant of Israel, and even a servant of the altar of God.

Can I share my ‘Gibeonite’ with you?

I tend to be negative & critical.

I don’t want to be, but I am.

My negativity disguised itself as sarcasm and funny put-downs that I deceived myself into thinking was all just being friendly.

Recently I came to realize that it was nothing but my flesh being negative, & that faith in God meant being positive, not negative.

How can I pray for the Lord’s blessing on others when my mouth is pronouncing the very opposite of blessing in a critical and sarcastic manner?

It was a shocking revelation – like the shock Israel got when they realized the Gibeonites lived in the midst of the land.

Joshua did the only thing he could with them, made them servants of God’s people.

And that is what I’ve done with my Gibeon of criticism.

I’ve made it a servant to the cause of righteousness.

I keep a constant watch on it, and every time I see it rising I use that as a reminder to speak blessing.

As Paul says in Romans 7:18, I know that in my flesh nothing good dwells.

But the flesh is ever present with me  - so I will turn it to serve the purpose of reminding me that my true life, the best life is the life IN Christ.