How many times have we failed the test of obedience in crucial matters in our walk with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior? How many times have we presumed to follow a course of action that is pleasing to our own hearts but isn’t according to the revealed Word of God? How many times have we walked ahead of our Lord and Savior, not waiting on Him in prayer, asking for His guidance? Since I come from the same stock as every other believer, I know that I am not alone in this confession. This struggle against the flesh is also proven true by the Scriptures which give account of God’s children, both their faithfulness, straying and out-right rebellion. Here is a portion of Scripture that is both a warning and encouragement. May Christ encourage our hearts through His Holy Word.
Joshua and the children of Israel came into the Promised Land by the power of God. They had the brilliant, glorious victory over Jericho and its people, and the inglorious defeat at Ai, due to the wicked rebellion of one Israelite who presumed through covetousness to take for himself items that were forbidden. Once this damnable disobedience was rectified through judgment upon the perpetrator and his family, the Israelites again were victorious against the enemies of God who were inhabitants of the city Ai. The destruction of the peoples in the Promised Land by Joshua and the armies of Israel brought great fear upon all the inhabitants of the land. This prompted men from Gibeon to travel to Gilgal to come to the children of Israel under pretense; they fooled the Israelite leaders into believing they were from a far country who then made a covenant with these “ambassadors”. They made the covenant without inquiring of the Lord about this request for a covenant relationship between these deceivers and the people of Israel. (Joshua 6-9)
1 And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof; 2 That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord. 3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, 4 They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; 5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. 6 And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us. 7 And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you? 8 And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye? 9 And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the LORD thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 10 And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth. 11 Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us. 12 This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is moldy: 13 And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey. 14 And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD. 15 And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation swore unto them. Joshua 9:1-15
Of course, this deception could not long prevail, the Israelites learned these people who claimed to have traveled from a far country were actually of the peoples living in the land whom God had commanded them to destroy. Of course, the people were upset with their leaders who had made this covenant with these people, but there wasn’t anything that could be done. The Israelites had to honor their covenant with the Gibeonites so wrath would not come from the Lord because of double dealing. While the people were murmuring against the leaders because they fell prey to this deception, Joshua cursed the Gibeonites to forever be the slaves of the Israelites.
16 And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors, and that they dwelt among them. 17 And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim. 18 And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. 19 But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. 20 This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we swore unto them. 21 And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them. 22 And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us? 23 Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God. 24 And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that the LORD thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, therefore we were sore afraid of our lives because of you, and have done this thing. 25 And now, behold, we are in thine hand: as it seems good and right unto thee to do unto us, do. 26 And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not. 27 And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the LORD, even unto this day, in the place which he should choose. Joshua 9:16-27
This seeming blunder by the leaders of Israel, actually became an occasion for the armies of Israel to have victory over their enemies. Because of the treaty between Israel and the Gibeonites, the other kings came against Gibeon to destroy it. The Gibeonites cried out to the nation of Israel for their protection; and so the occasion for the victory of the Israelites over the peoples of the land was born. Five kings from five cities camped before Gibeon and Joshua with the armies of Israel came in force against the kings and ultimately defeated all the peoples who dwelt in the Promised Land that God had given to His people. While destroying these wicked people from the land (see Leviticus 18), God performed great miracles on behalf of His people Israel and in response to the request of His servant Joshua.
11 And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword. 12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. Joshua 10:11-14
As God’s beloved children we can be encouraged that though we may stumble along this path of God-given righteousness that is ours through faith in His wonderful Son Jesus Christ, our God will not abandon us, even if there are unhappy consequences for our unwise willfulness. We can also be encouraged that according to His specific will for each of His beloved children we can anticipate that He will work together all things for our good. We may not escape penalties for disobedience, but we can know that God works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. That good ultimately refers to being conformed to the image of God’s Son, walking in truth and love, humbly obedient to our God and seeking to please Him. God’s loving kindnesses are the reason for my optimism.
God encouraged my heart while I was reading this section of His Word and reminded me that the Scriptures have been written and preserved for our blessing and encouragement. He is the one who hears our prayers and fights for our blessing and well-being, even in the midst of dire and troubling circumstances. Praise God for His good faithful love to us always at all times, both when He smiles upon our progress in the faith, and when He applies stern discipline so that we may not share in the judgment that He has reserved for His enemies, all those who reject and do not believe in His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Praise God that we can come to Him at any time for His help, guidance and work on our behalf. Praise God that we have the privilege of being His adopted children through faith in His glorious Son Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead so we can be victorious over sin, Satan and separation from God eternally in fiery hell. Praise His glorious name. Amen!
4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus. Romans 15:4-5
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28-29
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
Thank you Lord Jesus Christ that we can follow You and trust You to lead us and guide us even in the midst of the difficulties and disappointments in our lives due to our own disobedience. We praise You for Your mercy and patience given to us daily. We love You Lord God Almighty, may our hearts be Yours for Your praise and glory. Amen!