[Joshua Chapter Nine] When You Do Foolish Things – Then What? In your life you will do foolish and costly things. You will set yourself at a disadvantage and cause problems for others because you didn’t listen to God. It is part of the human condition. In this chapter we learn from Joshua that even in the midst of failure and foolishness there is a Christ-honoring path out of the messes we make by our own lack of humility and discernment.
[Jos 9:1-2 KJV] 1 And it came to pass, when all the kings which [were] on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard [thereof]; 2 That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.
There is never a time that harmony will reign among your critics than coming to a consensus of their opinion of you. They will gather together in sweet communion and put aside old differences. With enough motivation they will sacrifice their time and resources to come together in opposition to what God is doing and feel positively led by the Spirit to do so. Paul spoke of this in his ministry:
[Phl 1:15-16 KJV] 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
There will be critics and detractors. They will at times come to you in the guise of counselors and you must use discernment. Your mandate is not to get along with everyone but to obey John 5:19 and do what you see the Father do. God will tell you to do things that others will feel is encroaching upon their territory. You cannot allow yourself to get distracted by the opinions of others about what God has called upon you to do and where God calls you to go. You must maintain humility and sensitivity to the voice of God and not be distracted from your assignment. The truth always outlives the lie and you cannot be preoccupied with what others think or what they are doing in regard to the plan of God for your life.
[Jos 9:3-15 KJV] 3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, 4 They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; 5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry [and] mouldy. 6 And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us. 7 And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you? 8 And they said unto Joshua, We [are] thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who [are] ye? and from whence come ye? 9 And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the LORD thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 10 And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that [were] beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which [was] at Ashtaroth. 11 Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We [are] your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us. 12 This our bread we took hot [for] our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy: 13 And these bottles of wine, which we filled, [were] new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey. 14 And the men took of their victuals, and asked not [counsel] at the mouth of the LORD. 15 And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them.
There is in every child of God a desire for peace. If you have the spirit of Christ in your life you want collaboration with your brothers and peace with your neighbors. There will be people that will connect with you that seem like you will want to be a part of their lives and vice versa. They will appear to have come a long way and been in their journey for a long time. They will have all the right words and all the right appearances but they are not what they seem.
After the tragedy at Ai you would think that Joshua and the elders in Israel would understand the need to consult the Lord before doing anything but they didn’t. Without seeking God they form a covenant with the Gibeonites that God holds them accountable to even though on the Gibeonites part it is done in deceit. We need to learn to seek and respond to the witness of the spirit even though we are under pressure to act. It was a natural thing to enter into covenant with the Gibeonites. They said all the right things. It was the expected thing to do. It appealed to the ego of the leaders as the new conquerors of Canaan. They gave in to flattery and their own insecurities. You cannot be overly moved by what others think of you or what you think of yourself. You have to adhere to what Jesus said in Mat. 7:1 and judge not (have no opinion). When you successfully set aside your opinion you are in a position to hear what God has to say and do that even if it seems inappropriate, not according to what tradition says, or what everyone thinks you should be doing.
[Jos 9:16-27 KJV] 16 And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they [were] their neighbours, and [that] they dwelt among them. 17 And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities [were] Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim. 18 And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. 19 But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. 20 This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them. 21 And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them. 22 And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We [are] very far from you; when ye dwell among us? 23 Now therefore ye [are] cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God. 24 And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that the LORD thy 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 sore afraid of our lives because of you, and have done this thing. 25 And now, behold, we [are] in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do. 26 And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not. 27 And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the LORD, even unto this day, in the place which he should choose.
You are going to make mistakes in relationships. You are going to connect with people and groups and make commitments with your mouth that get you in trouble. When the Gibeonites deceived Joshua and the princes they no doubt had an idea about how that was going to work to their advantage. Yet even though Joshua and the princes erred they still didn’t give the Gibeonites what they wanted on their terms. Again the Christian life is NOT about fair dealing as determined by outward appearance. You have to listen to the Lord and handle people the way He tells you to even under the scrutiny and criticism of those closest to you.
Joshua and the elders were now dealing with the deception of the Gibeonites on one hand and the frustration of the people on the other. There was also God Himself they had to answer to in the midst of a pressure filled situation. Even when you do foolish things you cannot allow yourself to be bound by what men think you should do even when you have proven your own lack of wisdom, humility and discern on your part. The errors you commit do not dictate what happens next. The foolish things you do (and you will do foolish things) do not authorize others to rule over you or require you to yield to popular opinion or the accusations of your critics. You have to set aside your opinion and the good opinion of others and simply obey God if you hope to move past the mess that you make by failing to listen to God at critical junctures in your life.