“The people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai and cooked up a ruse. They posed as travelers: their donkeys loaded with patched sacks and mended wineskins, threadbare sandals on their feet, tattered clothes on their bodies, nothing but dry crusts and crumbs for food. They came to Joshua at Gilgal and spoke to the men of Israel, ‘We’ve come from a far-off country; make a covenant with us.’
The men of Israel said to these Hivites, ‘How do we know you aren’t local people? How could we then make a covenant with you?’
They said to Joshua, ‘We’ll be your servants.’
Joshua said, ‘Who are you now? Where did you come from?’
They said, ‘From a far-off country, very far away. Your servants came because we’d heard such great things about God, your God—all those things he did in Egypt! And the two Amorite kings across the Jordan, King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan, who ruled in Ashtaroth! Our leaders and everybody else in our country told us, ‘Pack up some food for the road and go meet them. Tell them, We’re your servants; make a covenant with us.’
“This bread was warm from the oven when we packed it and left to come and see you. Now look at it—crusts and crumbs. And our cracked and mended wineskins, good as new when we filled them. And our clothes and sandals, in tatters from the long, hard traveling.’
The men of Israel looked them over and accepted the evidence. But they didn’t ask God about it. So Joshua made peace with them and formalized it with a covenant to guarantee their lives. The leaders of the congregation swore to it. And then, three days after making this covenant, they learned that they were next-door neighbors who had been living there all along!” Joshua 9:3-16 (MSG)
Joshua and the Israelites finally crossed over the Jordan River and entered the land that God had promised them after wandering in the desert for forty years. They had seen God go before them as they walked through the Jordan River on dry ground. They also witnessed God’s miraculous power as the wall of Jericho came tumbling down, delivering their enemies into their hands. As Joshua and the people were charting unknown territory, God was working on their behalf. The Israelites had experienced victories, and their success began to cloud their judgment. In the midst of their victories, the people who were native to the land came up with an idea. They would go to Joshua and the Israelites and try to make a peace treaty with them. Instead of telling them the truth, they would wear a disguise that would make it seem like they were from far away. When these men came to Joshua and the Israelites, they examined the evidence. Their clothes were worn out; their food supply had dwindled to nothing. From the appearance of things, it seemed that the evidence was correct. Joshua was asking the right questions, but he was asking the wrong person. He was asking the Hivities for more facts when he should have asked God for direction. The people of Israel couldn’t see everything. Only God could reveal to them what they needed to know. As the Israelites looked over the evidence, they took that evidence as fact and made a decision that would impact them for generations. In the moment of making a decision, they were deceived by what looked good instead of asking God.
As you journey through life, you will encounter many situations that look good from the outside. You might find the perfect job, potential spouse, or new home. From everything that you can see, it seems ideal. Yet, in those moments before you move forward, it is important to ask God about it. When we refuse to ask God about our decisions and become confident in our own abilities, we position ourselves to experience less than God’s best. For the Israelites, God wanted them to destroy all the nations living in the land because of their wickedness. God knew that the spiritual temperature of the the people living in the Promised Land would eventually lead the Israelites astray. When they said yes to the peace treaty, they set themselves up for less than God’s best in this situation. You might be ready to buy your dream house, but you don’t have peace about it and don’t understand why. We can’t always see how God is protecting us. Maybe that house has an undisclosed problem that would end up costing you thousands of dollars. On the other hand, maybe you are making a decision about a job, and the closed doors are hard to understand. God might be saving you from or preparing you for something that you can’t even see today. In those moments, it can be difficult not to walk in our own understanding. Whether the door stands open or closed, look to God for direction and wisdom. When we want to step forward but look to God and He says no, we have to trust that He sees the big picture and will lead us.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.