“But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors.”—Joshua 9:3-4 (NKJV)
Did you know that the physical experiences involving Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land mirror the spiritual experiences of the Christian life? What they went through, naturally, we go through, supernaturally. We see this clearly as we are introduced to the Gibeonites.
In context, Israel is on the march. All the indigenous people of Canaan are terrified of them. They see the writing on the wall that Israel is invincible, so they band together in a desperate attempt to fight them off. Except for the people of Gibeon. They take a much different approach to self-preservation.
Instead of fighting Israel with the sword, they fight with the weapon of deception. Although their land was nearby and well within the range of Israel’s conquest, the Gibeonites sent a contingency pretending to be from a far-away land. They figured that Israel would come to terms of peace with them if they were from afar. And do you know what? It worked!
It worked for one simple reason: God’s people didn’t consult Him. The Gibeonites showed up looking like they had been on a long journey, corroborating their story. They looked the part, but it didn’t change the fact that they were lying the whole time. Only one person saw through the craftily constructed veil of deception: God!
No doubt, God would have warned about the Gibeonites’ deception if only His people had asked: “Lord, these people have come, and it seems they’re telling the truth. We’re about to enter into a binding covenant of peace with them, but thought we should seek Your direction on it before committing ourselves. Do You have a word for us?” How differently the story would have read if only they stopped to pray!
Here’s the spiritual parallel: How differently our lives might be if only we stopped to pray before making a decision or committing ourselves to something. Our heavenly Father sees all, knows all, and loves us more than we can imagine. If there is something we’re about to do that’s going to be harmful, don’t we know that He will be faithful to warn us by the power of His Spirit? But we need to position ourselves in prayer in order to rightly receive that warning.
That’s exactly what Israel didn’t do, and it would cost them for many years to come as they were not able to thoroughly possess the land as God wanted. May we avoid their fate by being a people who constantly stop and seek the Lord in prayer.
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