There’s an interesting story in Joshua about the Gibeonites. These guys were neighbors of Ai and Jericho, and they were likely to be next on the destruction path. Maybe they had heard of the strange honor of the Israelites. Maybe they knew if the Israelites made a promise in the name of their God, they would keep their promise. So the Gibeonites orchestrated an elaborate staged event. Some of their best actors dressed up like they had been traveling for a long way, and loaded moldy and dried out provisions on their donkeys. They came as “ambassadors from a far country,” recognizing Israel as a nation and requesting a treaty. The Israelite leaders (and Joshua himself) were duped.
Now I don’t blame them for not perceiving the truth. Sometimes it’s hard to discern, and we all wrestle at times with the correct action in the face of doubt. Is this child rebellious, or sick? Did he really think I was giving permission to eat that cookie? Should I show mercy at this time? On the other hand, sometimes the truth is so “obvious” we don’t even see it as a question. That was the Israelites’ problem. The text says that men inspected the old and moldy provisions, and did not ask counsel from the Lord.
This morning I’m asking myself what things seem so obvious that I’m not bothering to pray about them. The answers seem as real and obvious as the moldy food and rags for shoes that the Israelites inspected. School choices? A particular interpretation that I’m certain I understand? My rights in an argument? My approach to a child’s problem? There are also situations I’m wrestling with and haven’t bothered to pray about, some because they’re so small, and some because they’re big. I can’t afford to skip praying about them. For the things I am already praying about, I need to remind myself that God is indeed the revealer of secrets, as Nebuchadnezzar recognizes (Daniel 2:21 and 47). I can trust him to show me what I need to know at the right time, but I must be asking him. This passage in Joshua illustrates that God doesn’t always show us knowledge and wisdom when we don’t care to find or believe the truth.
This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy. 13 And these wineskins which we filled were new, and see, they are torn; and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey.”
14 Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord. 15 So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.
16 And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them.17 Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim. 18 But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers. Joshua 9:12-18