The children of Israel crossed over into their promised land on dry ground.
And Joshua led his men into battle
with victories that utterly destroyed the cities of Jericho and Ai.
None of which would have happened without the mighty hand of God!
And 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...
heard about it,
they gathered together
to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord.
Joshua 9:1-2 NKJV
Now, please don't misunderstand that last phrase,
to fight with Joshua and Israel...
because these kings were not cheering Joshua on.
This is not the fighting side-by-side, kind of with.
This is the, I'm going to pick a fight with you, kind of with.
Another translation actually says of the kings...
they combined their armies
to fight as one against Joshua and the Israelites.
Because even without the technology of today...
word had spread of the amazing things God had done for these Israelites.
And a rising fear within these kings had caused them to reconsider their own agendas and band together, protecting their kingdoms from the advance of this nation on the move.
Yet one group of people chose a different tactic.
But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors.
For Gibeon was not a kingdom run by a king. So they may not have been invited to join forces with the others.
Rather, they were a people governed by a council of elders, or senate, who decidedly chose to rule for the whole of the people, rather than the pride of saving a kingdom, or a king. (v.11)
It actually appears that they too sent spies... only into Joshua's camp. And quite possibly it was just after the victory at Ai, when Joshua stood before his people and re-read the laws recorded by Moses. This would bring news to the Gibeonites that the nation of Israel was united under one God.
And He commanded them to drive out all of the current inhabitants... and forbade them to make any covenants with them. (Exodus 23:31-33)
So a crafty plan, indeed had to be made if these people wanted to save their way of life... and possibly their lives.
And they certainly fooled Joshua and the leaders of Israel. Because they showed up with their oldest and most worn out attire... looking as if they had journeyed long, from a country far away, requesting to be servants to the Israelites.
And although Joshua questioned them... for they seemed somewhat vague and suspicious, he and the leaders of Israel... did not ask counsel of the Lord. (v14)
And they made peace with them, and a covenant to let them live.
But within three days time, it was discovered that these people were, in fact, neighbors... a people that God had intended for them to drive out of the land.
A people with whom they were not to associate, nor dwell.
But it was too late. For once an oath was made, sworn in the name of the Lord, it could not be taken back.
And when Joshua questioned them about it...
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.
If only Joshua had taken a few more moments to consider...
a few more moments to pray.
He learned this lesson after the loss of 36 lives in the first defeat at Ai.
And now he is learning it again.
Whether making a battle plan, or negotiating with people...
God wants to be included.
But so often, I find this true in my life as well.
I lack courage in a new thing... like Joshua just after Moses dies.
And God leads him along to victory.
So I'll start off strong with God...
letting Him lead me in some area of victory.
And somehow I get this false sense of identity
that God is behind me...
supporting me, and
and somehow... maybe part of the victory is mine.
So I step out again into something else that I think is great...
and I expect Him to be right there behind me,
blessing my something else.
But I don't sense it working out so well.
And then I realize, I had it all wrong.
He was never really behind me that first time.
He was in front, leading and guiding me.
Because God doesn't take a back seat.
And He didn't want me to make those new plans,
and then ask Him to bless them.
He didn't lead me to step out again
into that something else I thought was great...
that was plain old me.
Joshua and the leaders of Israel were certainly fooled by a crafty plan.
And I'm certain that I could be just as easily duped.
But if we will, each day, stop and take the time to first pray...
asking God to lead and to guide our decisions,
then we will be less likely to commit ourselves to the something else
that God never had the plans to bless.
And instead, we can listen for what He intend to lead us into.
And that will be a better place, with the best allies.
Only filled with victory
for His glory
and not ours.
Word of God... train me, today...
to pray first, and step out second,
to consider wisely the oaths and promises I make.
I know that the plans You have for me
will always be better than my own.
Help me to trust You
each day for wisdom
Lead me in right choices,
that I may stay stable
and strong in my purpose.
And glorify You in all that I do.
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