What happens when we fail to seek God’s direction? (Joshua 9)

How many of us walk through life and make our decisions based upon the “facts” we have, the input others give us and our accumulated worldly wisdom? Is this a wise way to approach life or is it dangerous?In Joshua 9 we meet the Israelite nation as they are struggling to take over the land of Canaan.  Their first few battles have taught them alot about trusting God, the presence of sin and its nefarious effects and now they are about to find out what happens when a people fail to seek the face of God for direction.

God had clearly instructed the people not to make any treaties or alliances with those within the land.  Rather they were to drive them out and leave no vestige of idolatry among the chosen people.  Aware of this, a group of men from Gibeon resort to a ruse in order to protect their own lives.  They load up their animals and pretend to come from a long way off in order to seek peace.  The extent of their preparations and trickery is quite large – moldy bread, broken water bottles, worn out sandles.  (You can read about it in Joshua 9:3-6.)

And as these men hoped, the Israelites believed the story – hook, line and sinker.  They were naive and exposed yet another of their sinful tendencies – a failure to stay in constant, daily contact with their Lord and seek his direction in all areas of life, including politics and foreign policy.

Today, we live in similar times.  Far too many Christians fail to take God’s Word seriously and apply it to every area of life.  There are too many hearers of the Word who fail to be doers of the Word and then when the tricks and schemes of our enemies become apparent, we grumble just as the Israelites did.  Yet where does the fault lie?  It lies with us.  We are the ones who fail to pray.  We are the ones who fail to implement God’s words into every area of life: government, healthcare, environment, economy, family, media, etc.

But the story has an amazing ending.  Even though God’s people are sinful, our Lord is able to use every situation in order to draw more people into His kingdom.  The heart of these Gibeonites was for preservation, they wanted to be saved from annihilation.  They wanted to live among the people of God and we are told,

“Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them.  That day he made the Gibeonites wooodcutters and water carriers for the community and for the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day” (Joshua 9:26-27).

Even in the midst of the Israelite sin, God was working a redemption that would prefigure the saving of the Gentile and their joining of the Promised People.  These Gibeonites become ministers for the altar, temple servants if you will.  They are incorporated and protected.  In fact, when Saul exterminates some of them later on in his reign (2Sam 21:1), David must bring about justice and the preservation of the promise to protect these deceivers.

Is this not the very work that our Lord Jesus did on our behalf.  If you are not Jewish in ethinicity and you follow Jesus, you are a Gibeonite, grafted into the People of God and made a servant of the temple.  You are under the protection of the reigning King and you are entitled to all the rights, priviliges and responsibilities of the Chosen people.  You too can be saved.    Should we pray?  Absolutely.  Must we walk in accordance with the Law of the Lord?  Yes.  Should we fear that our sin, somehow ruins God’s plans for the world?  No, we serve a God who is able to use every event of life in order to bring about good for those who love God and keep his commandments.

About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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