Have you ever been in a situation where someone approaches you with a request, but there is something about it that seems suspicious? The person looks credible, their story believable; even their request appears reasonable. They act humble and respectful, God-fearing; yet you have that gnawing feeling that something doesn’t seem right. How do you know if they are genuine or their intent is to deceive, disguised as someone they are not. Joshua 9 gives us guidance on how to handle your skepticism.
In verse 3 we learn that the Gibeonites “heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai (NASB).” Their intent is to make a peace covenant with the Israelites so they will not be destroyed like Jericho. They tell Joshua, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us (6).” However, the men of Israel are skeptical and ask, “Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you (7)?” Joshua confronts them: “Who are you and where do you come from (8)?”
The Gibeonites spin a crafty tale, telling the Israelites, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God (9).” They talk about how they heard what the Israelites “did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth (10).” Their worn out clothing and sandals, as well as their dried out bread, made it appear they traveled far. Joshua falls for the deception and makes “a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them (15).”
Three days later “they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land (16).” Verse 14 tells us their mistake: “they did not ask for the counsel of the LORD.” The Gibeonites deceived Israel by making it appear they traveled far with worn out clothes and dried out supplies. The leaders tell the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them.”
How many times do you rush into a decision without consulting with God — without taking time to pray about it. The request seems to be forthright and honest, even reasonable. The facts appear truthful, yet there is that gnawing feeling inside that something just isn’t right. Even if things still seem okay after you confront them, take time to consult the Lord. Don’t enter into an agreement that you will regret.
© 2022, CGThelen
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)