Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grace and mercy to those seeking God

Grace and mercy to those seeking God

S -
3 When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai,4 they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended ,5 and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled.6 They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, "We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us."7 The men of Israel said to the Hivites, "Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?"8 But they said to Joshua, "We are your servants." Then Joshua said to them, "Who are you and where do you come from?"9 They said to him, "Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the Lord your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt,10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth.11 "So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, 'Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, "We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us."'12 "This our bread was warm when we took it for our provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled.13 "These wineskins which we filled were new, and behold, they are torn; and these our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long journey."14 So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the Lord.15 Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.Josh 9:3-15 (NASB)

Deception of the Gibeonites (vv. 4-15). Craftily pretending to be envoys of a far-off country, as if from across the Jordan (for they claimed to have known about Sihon and Og, but did not mention Jericho and Ai. See 9:10), a group of Gibeonites perpetrated their hoax upon Joshua by means of their old sacks and mended wineskins, patched sandals and threadbare clothing, and dry, crumbled bread. God allowed the Israelites to let people at a considerable distance submit and pay tribute to them, but he ordered them to wipe out completely cities belonging to the peoples of Canaan (Deut 20:10-18). Convinced when they ate of the Gibeonites' stale provisions (which very act of eating, by ancient Oriental custom, established a more or less enduring friendly relationship), the leaders of the congregation made a formal covenant-treaty (berît) with them. "The Israelites were guilty of excessive credulity and culpable negligence, in not asking by the high priest's Urim and Thummim the mind of God, before entering into the alliance" (Jamieson in JFB; cf. Num 27:21).

—Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The


Other people heard these tidings, and were driven thereby to make war upon Israel; but the Gibeonites were led to make peace with them. Thus the discovery of the glory and the grace of God in the gospel, is to some a savour of life unto life, but to others a savour of death unto death, 2Co 2:16. The same sun softens wax and hardens clay. The falsehood of the Gibeonites cannot be justified. We must not do evil that good may themselves to the God of Israel, we have reason to think Joshua would have been directed by the oracle of God to spare their lives. But when they had once said, "We are come from a far country," they were led to say it made of skins, and their clothes: one lie brings on another, and that a third, and so on. The way of that sin is especially down-hill. Yet their faith and prudence are to be commended. In submitting to Israel they submitted to the God of Israel, which implied forsaking their idolatries. And how can we do better than cast ourselves upon the mercy of a God of all goodness? The way to avoid judgment is to meet it by repentance. Let us do like these Gibeonites, seek peace with God in the rags of abasement, and godly sorrow; so our sin shall not be our ruin. Let us be servants to Jesus, our blessed Joshua, and we shall live.
—Matthew Henry Concise

A -  The application that comes to me is one of mercy.   I know God has commanded the Israelites to rid the land of Canaan of all its residents and sparing none. The background was that they were an evil and idolatrous peoples whose customs and rituals  flew in the face of God.  God's sending the Israelites to destroy them was more about their sin, than the Israelites righteousness.  But here we see the Gibeonites, who while deceptive, come in a reverent and submissive posture to the God of Israel,  willing to abandon all their old ways and become servants of the God's people.   I think despite Joshua's ignorance of the lie,  he did not seek God's guidance in a situation that at first glance may have seem a little suspicious.  
    For me I believe God is calling me to be particular about who I allow to be in and around my family.   I need to be suspicious of those in who in the guise of a follower of God my infiltrate my inner circle, but also gracious and merciful enough to allow those with a less clean past, but repentant heart come close so that the light of God's family may shine on them.

P -   Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.   I pray lord for discernment of any I am to rid from the influence of my family.   I also pray Lord to any of those I am to be graceful and merciful to that you would help me to show your light and hope to them through my family.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

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