Bible Readings for July 7th
Joshua 9 | Psalms 140–141 | Jeremiah 3 | Matthew 17
Joshua is one of the high points in all the Bible. While Moses’s ministry was plagued by unbelief and rebellion among the Israelites, and while Israel will sink into idolatry again during the days after Joshua dies in the period of the judges, Israel’s time under the leadership of Joshua is largely characterized by covenantal faithfulness to Yahweh.
But only largely. The main exception is in Joshua 9, when Israel uncharacteristically fails to inquire of Yahweh about the Gibeonites who came seeking to make a treaty with them. And in doing so, Israel pledges to protect the very people whom Yahweh had commanded to be driven out of the Promised Land. From this story, we learn three main lessons.
First, this story underscores our need to seek God in prayer. The Gibeonites had planned out their deception completely, using worn-out sacks, wineskins, sandals, and clothes and bringing dried-out, crumbly food (Josh. 9:3–5) to make it appear as if they had traveled a long distance. While the Israelites were completely fooled by this display, Yahweh was not. If the Israelites had simply asked Yahweh for his guidance, he would have helped them see through the Gibeonites’ lies.
For us, the situation is no different. We are weak, frail, and easily deceived, so that we desperately need God’s own wisdom if we are to follow him faithfully. As John Piper explains, prayer is our wartime walkie-talkie for getting precise battlefield instructions.1
Second, we should not overlook the fact that Rahab, the prostitute from Jericho, had also used deception with the Israelites. But, we should also recognize how dissimilar Rahab’s actions were compared with those of the Gibeonites. She lied to protect Israel’s spies, while the Gibeonites lied to protect themselves. Rahab threw herself at Israel’s mercy, while the Gibeonites manipulated Israel into a covenant. Rahab’s brave actions were motivated by faith, while the Gibeonites’ shameful actions were motivated by fear, as the Gibeonites themselves admit in Joshua 9:24. So, is your life characterized by unreserved trust in God, or are you willing to lie, cheat, and manipulate to protect yourself from whatever it is you fear?
Third, this story teaches us that sin brings consequences, which we will see in tomorrow’s reading from Joshua 10, when the Gibeonites summon Israel to protect them from their enemies. While God can and will forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness through the blood of Jesus Christ, we still may face consequences of our sin. It is wickedness and utter foolishness for us to continue in sin so that grace may abound (Rom. 6:1). Rather, let us ask God for grace not only to forgive our sins but to keep us from sin altogether.
Let us pray the prayer that our Lord taught us to pray: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13).
1 John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, rev. ed., (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2011), 177–78.
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Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.