So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. Joshua 9:14
Joshua 9:14 is like a mirror. I see myself when I read this verse. How many times have I not asked counsel of the Lord? Too many to count, I’m afraid. But I’m glad I’m not alone because I imagine you struggle with this just like Joshua and me.
Here’s where Joshua went wrong (and where we go wrong): we look at things and situations and determine that we can handle it on our own. We think, if not outright, then somewhere deep in our heart, “I got this.” That’s what happened with Joshua and Company. As they made their way into the Promised Land, they were taking out the Canaanite cities one after another. Next up: Gibeon. But the Gibeonites were not dumb. They read The Canaan Chronicle every morning and they were following the story of these new invaders who seemed invincible. And it didn’t hurt that they paid attention in geography class! They could read a map. The Gibeonites knew they were next on Joshua’s “to kill” list. So they hatched a plan. Buy some old clothes at the thrift store, distress them a little, and send some of their men, all dressed in the new/old clothes, off to see Joshua. They also packed these guys a lunch: some stale bread and useless wineskins.
Fast forward and these Gibeonites approach Joshua and Co. and tell them that they have come from a far away land because they have heard about Israel’s God, Yahweh. They have read reports by the Associated Press about how Yahweh wiped out the Egyptians and the Amorites. And they have come from far away to make peace with Joshua. So Joshua inspects their worn clothes and stale bread and determines that they must be telling the truth. They shake hands and enter into a covenant together. After the handshake, per ancient Near Eastern custom, Joshua is obligated to protect them and not send them all to the graveyard. And then the Gibeonites drop the bomb: “We’re actually the residents of the next city on your “to kill” list. You can’t kill us now. We shook on it.”
And just like that, Joshua 9:14 makes a lot more sense. “So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD.” We do the same thing. We often neglect to pray about things. So the next time your Sunday school class is discussing what to study next, why not stop and ask the Lord to guide you? The next time you have a conversation with someone about something, why not just stop and say a quick prayer to the silent, invisible God who is eavesdropping on your conversation? I don’t do it as much as I should, but I try to remember to pray in those situations by saying this: “We talked about it, let’s pray about it.” Whatever the situation is, however mundane or heart-wrenching it is, seek the Lord, even if it’s just a quick 30 second prayer for help.
Don’t let the stale bread fool you!