August 16, 2012

Danger Ahead

Joshua 9:1-6, 14-18, 22-27

When the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done … they resorted to a ruse …
—Joshua 9:3-4


The people from Gibeon came to Joshua looking worn out from a long journey. They knew about the victories over Jericho and Ai, and they had heard what the Lord had done in Egypt and to the Amorites (Joshua 9:9-10). So they pretended to be from a distant land and pleaded with Joshua to make a treaty with them.

Israel was suspicious, but their visitors’ moldy bread and worn clothing looked convincing. Without consulting God, the Israelites made a treaty with the Gibeonites. But a few days later the truth came out: the Gibeonites actually lived nearby.

God has two kinds of enemies: those like Achan, from within his own people, who steal from the Lord and get in the way of God’s will; and those like the Gibeonites, who will do anything to avoid a sincere relationship with God and, of course, possible destruction. Some steal; others deceive.

That day the Gibeonites escaped death, but they and their descendants became Israel’s servants. “The LORD works out everything to its proper end” (Proverbs 16:4).

As Christ’s disciples who seek to do God’s will, we need to be as cunning as people who try to use God for their own ends. Jesus said to his disciples: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). In other words, be as wise and faultless as Jesus, by the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Give us wisdom, Lord, to do your will, and may that also help others come to know you. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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