Joshua 9
Redeeming Grace

This week lead pastor Keith Welton continues the sermon series from the book of Joshua. To hear or view the previous teaching in this series, click here.

The Israelites Fail 

We are not able to cover all of the book of Joshua. Our series will be weighted much more on the front end of the book. This is a bit of an odd chapter. The Israelites are deceived into making a covenant with the Gibeonites. They get tricked. They are lied to. Their failure is that they didn’t seek the Lord on the issue. They fail, and they have to live with their failure.

But interestingly enough, while there may have been some friction with the Israelites and the Gibeonites, they live together in mutual cooperation, and God continues with his people. They honor the covenant. God honors them.

God redeems our shortcomings and brings peace.   

The older you get the more you have to learn to trust God with past decisions.  Talking to a friend who bought a house and it has been a money pit. He is ready to burn it down. Was it an ill-advised decision? Did they not seek the Lord? Did you get duped into doing something you should not have done?  Married the wrong person. Broke up with the wrong person. Made an investment because someone told you the wrong thing.  Seminary. Ideal job. Promised position. Process dragged out and then told nothing. Crunch time and I need to find a job.  God where are you? Why did this happen? Why did they lie to me? Why did they do this? How can I move forward? Can I recover from this?     This passage helps us see how God’s grace can cover our mistakes and missteps. 

Spiritual Warfare

A Crafty Enemy. You have to remember in this life we have a spiritual battle. We have an enemy of our souls who is waiting to devour us. We have enemies in the world. They have a goal, and they are crafty in it.  Looking to catch you off guard. Opponents make adjustments. They are crafty. He is not dumb and is intent on deceiving others. We are engaged in a spiritual battle. A battle to think rightly, believe rightly.   

In verse 2 we see that all the nations of the land now unify against israel. Earlier, in the battle of Jericho, the other nations were in fear. Fear has dissipated with Israel’s defeat at Ai. The enemies form a new plan. The six nations all form an alliance with each other to defeat Israel. That is the plan of intimidation and direct attack. Others of the land try a different approach. It is the path of deception.

If you can’t overpower your enemy you trick them-deception. Historical reliability of biblical miracles. It is a challenge to invade another’s territory, the people who know the land, know the pathways, know the ins and outs of the home country have a distinct advantage. Israel is coming in, and now all multiple nations make a compact to go against Israel.

The odds are against Israel. How could this small nation move in and overcome all the other nations unless God was with them?

The Gibenoites take a different approach.

The Gibeonites are crafty. Let’s go to them, and tell them we are from a distant country and want to make a treaty with them. This word is also used of Satan in the garden. He is crafty. Sly, slick,   [they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, (Jos 9:4 ESV), patched sandals, threadbare clothing, and even their food was old and moldy. They looked like hobo’s. Know your enemy is looking for opportunities to trick you. Be on guard. He is always adjusting, looking for a kink in the armor.  

Israel might think, praise the Lord. This nation is coming to surrender. Don't have to fight them. Much easier. They are from a far out place. The Gibeonites say they are the servants of Israel. They are in submission to them. Good news! Assume God is providing!

We have heard of what God is doing through you. True! Perhaps a little flattery. God told them not to make a treaty with the people of the land. It would be permissible to make a treaty with a nation not of the land. They may say what’s the big deal; a nation surrendering is good news. But it would not be following God’s commands. Stand strong in what God says and who he is.  

The world tries to seduce you and make you think going against God is a good idea, or that you are not really going against him. It seeks to deceive you. It tells you lies. Lies on sexuality. Lies on how to deal with your insecurities. Right now it tells you many promises about changing your sexuality. This will fulfill you. This will make everything right. Lies on sleeping with others. Lies on church being a place of hypocrites, liars, racists, bigots.    Gibeonites act deceptively. 

The Israelites Failure

Didn't seek the Lord. Did not do their due diligence.    The failure of the Israelites is giving in. They did not seek the Lord’s counsel. Literally, they did not seek the mouth of the Lord. When making decisions, whose mouth do you seek? Whom do you seek to hear from? They didn’t seek after the word of God. They were self-sufficient. It seemed so clear!   Some of my worst decisions were the things that I thought were so clear, I didn’t need to think about it a whole lot. Rush into things. Feel like you have to make a deal right then. What could go wrong???  

I think dependence on God often looks like patience. Not hasty or rash. Not feeling like you have to do something right then and there. Few times in life you really have to rush. Trust in God. Seek him. In leadership it is sometimes waiting for those who are less inclined to move forward. Seeking God’s word.   -Be Patient. *Testing takes time/patience*  

The men took provisions. Hunting game. Meat. Did you seek the Lord? No, but taste this steak. What could go wrong??  Get advice from others. Hear from other people on how they might react in your situation. What passages come to mind?   

"Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed" (Pro 15:22 ESV).   Don’t have to do what they say, but you are wiser for it. Israel was negligent. They did not do what they were responsible to do. They did not seek God. Did not hear from him.

I would like more details. Perhaps they offered up a prayer, but were not open to hearing. It appears they just missed the whole point of prayer and reading.  Gibeonites deceive them. Their tactics are wrong, there is something that reminds you a bit of Rahab here.

They want to be spared from the destruction and are willing to assimilate into Israel. Their goal was to become a part of Israel. Joshua asks where they are going, nice to meet you and have a nice life. They are coming to Israel to be servants of them. Israel makes a treaty with them. And then shortly after that discovers where they are from.

After three days. That is not an unprecedented time frame, to hold off on making an alliance with a nation. They have been deceived, but they have also given them their word. Probably received things from them for making this covenant. Some think the food they received was for making the treaty.

Regardless, the Israelites are angry because they were deceived. The leaders had to restrain the people from attacking them. Just your normal church picnic! You have been journeying for 40 years, hoping to come to a place you can build a house, and now this people is ruining your opportunity. They have threatened everything. Remember what happened when Achan sinned, and now these people made you make a bad decision. No, Israel has to own their mistakes.  

So what's next??

Gibeonites lied. Israel failed. What next?? What a mess. They are in a hole. Two ways: break our promise and get rid of these people. Honor our word and live with a people we were not supposed to live with. Complicated. 

Do the right thing   

Don't do wrong to make up for a wrong. Don't sin to make up for a sin. Get caught cheating, don't start lying. Been lying dont keep adding to it. Made a hasty contract. Don’t act in haste and go deeper. Don't sin so grace may abound.

They honor the Lord. They realize they have sworn an oath to the Lord to protect them. And they stand by their word. Even though they were deceived. Interestingly enough God also takes up the cause of the Gibeonites. Centuries later king Saul will attack and kill Gibeonites. God holds Saul accountable for spilling the blood of these people. The treaty was wrong, but once in place, honor it. 

Stand by Your commitments.  "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold" (Pro 22:1 ESV).   Name is a person’s reputation (Psa 15:4 ESV). Integrity is important.  Be faithful with what you can control. Trust God for what is beyond your control. Don’t delay in doing the right thing.  Their failure in the beginning was to not trust God. A second failure would be to not trust God and break their promise. Takes trust. 

Stop Grumbling and Give Praise

The people murmured

In wilderness wanderings the murmuring, of course, was not without reason, namely, hunger or thirst in the desert, or an apparently unattainable goal. But they sinned because they doubted God and cast aspersion on his justice, goodness, and power. The true nature of this murmuring is seen in the fact that it is an open act of rebellion against the Lord (Num 14:9) and a stubborn refusal to believe God's word and God's miraculous works (Num 14:11, 22, 23 ). Thus the right attitude in real difficulty is unconditional acceptance and obedience. Then the whole community grumbled against the leaders. (Jos 9:18 CSB)   Grumbling is the great sin of God’s people. Grumbling is the sin of reluctant/disagreeable conformity. Faithless conformity.

They couldn’t get mad and say this is crazy and I'm done and I'm going back to Egypt. I'm done with all this stuff. That costs a lot. Long way to travel, lose friends, not sure what might happen in Egypt. Guess I 'll stay here, but I dont like it. You go along, but you don't have faith or hope. Not focused on making things work, doing the right thing. Gnaw away at others.   

Counter this by looking at what is worthy to give praise. God has mercy on us. The Gibeonite people are to draw water and cut wood. The people are grumbling at the Gibeonites being a part of them. They were not Israelites. God had mercy on them, just as he had mercy on the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt. If God has had mercy on you, share it with others. And praise God when others experience it. Praise God when other cultures experience it. Israelites had to be content with these people finding grace.

Can you show grace to those who have messed up? The Gibeonites were different from the Israelites. Talked different. Looked different. Ate different. This isn't just Rahab showing up to temple. This is a who people are coming into your nation. God’s design has always been to redeem himself a people from every nation, tribe and language. Here in the Old Testament it is happening. Will come to greater clarity in the New Testament.   

Israelites will have to push aside their old ways

Their misconceptions about God. If others are serious about serving God they are to have a place in the community.  Stop grumbling because there is a contentment in God. Grace. Do what you are supposed to do.  The Gibeonites just wanted to live. They seem to know that they needed to serve the Lord. It is similar to Rahab, but Rahab had a clear conversion. The Gibeonites are brought into the people of God. But they are also cursed with a lowly position. Interestingly enough though their service will be in the temple of the Lord. They will be near the things of God. It seems to imply that they will minister before the Lord! Content to lose all things to gain the Lord (Psa 84:10).   If you have the Lord then you have everything. If you don't have the Lord then you have nothing. 

Sin won't get the last word. Know there is grace to cover your mistakes. Consequences to mistakes, you may feel them for a long time. But grace can more than make up for it. God can work all things together for your own good. 

JI Packer said this,   

If I found I had driven into a bog, I should know I had missed the road. But this knowledge would not be of much comfort if I then had to stand helpless watching the car sink and vanish; the damage would be done, and that would be that. Is it the same when a Christian wakes up to the fact that he has missed God’s guidance and taken the wrong way? Is the damage irrevocable? Must he now be put off course for life? Thank God, no. Our God is a God who not merely restores, but takes up our mistakes and follies into his plan for us and brings good out of them.   

This is part of the wonder of his gracious sovereignty. The Jesus who restored Peter after his denial and corrected course more than once after that (Acts 10; Gal 2:11-14). Is our Savior today and he has not changed. God makes not only the wrath of man to turn to his praise but his misadventures too. (Knowing God. p241).  

In Joel God brought locusts as punishment for the people's sins. But he also promises to restore all that was lost. Gibeon messed up and is delivered, but destined to servitude. Israel messed up and is experiencing hardship. But God is at work through their mess to create a people for himself. He is restoring all their mistakes.

Did you miss it on which house to buy, which job to take, which spouse to marry? Did you make a poor business decision that got you into a mess? Were you affected by COVID? Kept you from school, missed out on the best times of college, haven’t been able to connect with people and now you will never get married. Did you break up with the wrong person?

Often times the struggle is not just that it happened, but that you think you will never overcome it. You have things to live with now. The enemy got you. No enemy is bigger than God’s grace.  Our God is a redeeming God. Many think he only redeems what you did before coming to him. Then you have to take care of everything else on your own.

If you have messed up, missed out, turn to him

Don't keep making mistakes, and the biggest you can make is to sink and sulk in reluctant unbelief. We need to learn from mistakes. We need to learn how to follow God better. Know his word. Be more connected with people who are pursuing him. And we need to live as if he is Lord of our life, and Lord of our shortcomings. He can restore what is lost. Know his grace is there. It covers our mistakes. Older people made a lot of mistakes. Young people, you have not lived long enough to make bad decisions you can't recover from.