The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 28

"The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath" (Joshua 9:14,15; emphasis mine).

The Bible stresses the importance of seeking the Lord's counsel. It teaches us the importance of getting God's opinion first, rather than acting out of our own desires. In the OT it was customary for leaders to "inquire of the Lord" before embarking on any major venture. King David did this. When he didn't, we find that he fared badly in his venture. Before David's time, Moses spoke directly with the Lord and received instructions from him. Joshua, his aide, had been groomed for leadership after Moses; so we can assume he knew the importance of inquiring of the Lord.

Yet, in the text before us today, we find Joshua (and with him, God's people) in a predicament because of his failure to seek the Lord's counsel. Joshua had just won two great victories - one over Jericho and the other over Ai, through the Lord's power. Their Gibeonite neighbours knew they would be next, so in fear they resorted to trickery to save their lives. They put on old clothes, took mouldy bread with them, and pretending to be weary travelers and foreigners, made their way to the Israelite camp. You can read the story in Joshua, chapter 9.

What follows is that Joshua and the Elders were completely deceived by this trickery. Because they did not consult the Lord they entered into a covenant with the enemies of Israel whom God had told them to destroy.

There are several spiritual lessons we can learn from this story. They are all tied to the need to discipline ourselves to walk by faith and not by sight. Understanding the difference is important!

Walking by faith means walking by divine guidance. It means being governed by the authority of God's word and putting our total dependence and confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Walking by sight involves placing our confidence in our own accomplishments and past victories. It means putting human reasoning and ability before divine guidance. It leads to deception. It becomes a snare to us, as it did to Joshua.

We must never forget that the Bible warns us: " put on the full armour of god, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11, emphasis mine). We are often prepared for Satan's obvious "all out" attacks, his proverbial 'lion's roar'. But how often we fail to see his subtle, deceptive strategies!

Deception is one of Satan's most effective tools to bring about disobedience!



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