Here is a story that has a very strong message for the present hour we are in. Joshua and the army of Israel had taken Jericho and Ai with the help and supernatural power of God. God was directing Joshua, and he was listening and following the LORD’s instructions. The people of Gibeon knowing that they were no match for the God of the Israelites, used deception to save themselves from death by lying and claiming to be from a distance land, when they were actually close neighbors. Notice especially verses 4 and 5 below (highlighted).
Jos 9:1-7 As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel. But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wine skins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.”But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?”
In verse seven it seems to indicate that some of the men of Israel were suspicious that something just didn’t seem right about this situation and they questioned them….”Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with your?” These men from Gibeon began to convincingly portrait this falsehood, using their appearance and their now old and crusty food as the evidence that they were telling the truth. They would attempt to fool Joshua into thinking that they were from a faraway country so that he would make a covenant of peace with them, because they knew that if he knew that they were neighbors Joshua would kill them.
Jos 9:8-13 They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” They said to him, “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the LORD your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.”’ Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wine skins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.”
It seems like they went out of their way in verse twelve to draw attention to the fact that the bread was right out of their ovens when the embarked on their journey. It really makes us ask, was anybody suspicious about this? How could a man of God like Joshua not see through this deception? The key to why the leaders of Israel and Joshua were deceived is found in verse 14.
Jos 9:14-16 So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them. At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them.
The men of Israel examined the food provisions and made a judgement call that they were telling the truth, based entirely on the appearance of the food which seemed to be old, and therefore matched their made-up story of having been on this journey for a long time. But the most sever error was they did not ask counsel from the LORD. Three days after Joshua and the leaders of Israel made a covenant they find out that they had been duped. The old saying that things aren’t always as they appear to be would certainly apply to this story. What do we learn from this story, and is there something that we can apply to the present hour that we live in? I believe there is.
- We have an enemy who will use every form of deceit, disguise and deception to dupe the saints of God to believe things by mere appearance. There are those people in the world around us that are enslaved to the devil and they are his servants by their own choice. These people are allowing themselves to be used to carry out the enemy’s destructive attacks on righteousness, godliness, and on the people of GOD themselves. They are cunning and will attempt to deceive by creating a certain appearance of their motives or their actions, but the real motive will be hidden beneath what they portrait openly.
- Joshua and the Men of Israel were deceived for one reason only…. they did not seek the LORD’s counsel. According to what is written, it would appear that the leaders of Israel bought this story hook line and sinker and then convinced Joshua to do the same. They did not stop and seek the Lord’s guidance, instead they believed what they thought was real, and what was portrayed to them by old clothes and crusty bread. Joshua then trusting this decision decreed a covenant of peace with the people of Gibeon. Their failure was not seeking God’s direction and then His instructions as to what to do. They skipped this step because they were convinced by what they thought was real. They let the appearance of what they saw lead them.
- We must believe that the LORD will reveal the true nature of every deception if we will seek Him. We must be careful and committed to not judge by mere appearance only, but by seeking the Lord and trusting that He will give us discernment in the days ahead. The church of these end times will need this discernment.
- We must have the awareness that how things appear may not be as they truly are, therefore we must train ourselves to seek the LORD, and His discernment, and trust that in doing so He will illuminate to us the hidden deceit and reveal to us the enemies tactics of deception, so that we can see through the things that appear to be one thing or another and know them for what they truly are by the illuminating light of the Holy Spirit.
May the lesson we see here in Joshua chapter nine be a strong reminder of what can happen if we only judge by appearances and not by seeking the LORD’s wisdom and counsel. Our LORD will always provide us the counsel and wisdom if we will seek Him and put Him first. We need not fear any deception or trick of the enemy as long as we seek for The Holy SPirit’s guidance in all things.