2010-12-31 BEWARE OF THE GIḆ‘ONITES (Joshua 9)

Yehoshua/Joshua 9

Shalom to you all, May the name of the Almighty יהוה our Elohim be praised, aměn! How many of you have made some serious blunders or mistakes? Come on, I am sure we all have. But how often have you made mistakes or bad decisions, which at the time you made the decision seemed to be right, and everything made sense and looked and sounded right, yet later you realised that it was wrong and as a result there were lasting consequences? Mistakes that we make, or bad decisions and choices we make may often end up embarrassing us, especially those decisions that are made as a result of running ahead of יהוה and not stopping to seek His will.  Now, I know we have all made mistakes, but we must know that no mistake or outcome of a bad decision is the final or end of the story for the dedicated and devoted follower of יהוה! יהוה can and will even use our blunders to accomplish His purposes. This however is certainly not an excuse for us to be careless but rather a confident assurance that we have in an Almighty Elohim we serve that will work everything out for our good – if we will submit to Him and allow Him to, aměn! Mistakes happen, I know, but what happens if we have made some and how do we move on?

A dentist’s mistake is pulled out, a lawyer’s mistake is imprisoned, a teacher’s mistake is failed, a printer’s mistake is corrected, a pharmacist’s mistake is buried, a postman’s mistake is forwarded, and an electrician’s mistake could be shocking. The novelist Joseph Conrad wrote, “It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes.

But is doing nothing really the answer? No! I want us to look at the account of Yehoshua and Yisra’ĕl when a bad choice was made, why it was made and the result or outcome of bad choices. Please turn with me to Yehoshua/Joshua 9 in a message called, “Beware of the Giḇ‘onites”. (Read)

An intriguing passage that certainly can teach us a whole lot about not doing things in our own wisdom, but rather to seek יהוה in all!

After the defeat that Yisra’ĕl suffered at Ai, which primarily was due to the sin of Aḵan, yet before marching on to battle Yisra’ĕl did not seek יהוה, or inquire of Him and merely proceeded to engage Ai based on a human perspective that made common sense. The problem with decisions made that are based solely upon common sense to any given situation is that we all very quickly learn that they may just not be the decision that יהוה would want us to make. And all too often, decisions made outside of His counsel simply lead us in to a course of action that is contrary to His will. This is what happened at Ai and you would think that Yehoshua and Yisra’ĕl  would have learnt their lesson from this and not make this mistake of not inquiring of יהוה again! However, as we see clearly from the passage we have just read that the Giḇ‘onite deception had caused them to resort to mere human wisdom, showing themselves as merely human and were liable, just as we are today to make the same mistakes over, and for some of us, over and over and over again!

Yisra’ĕl  were clearly instructed in Deḇarim 7 to wipe out the 7 stronger nations that were before them in the Promised Land, and they were to put them ‘under the ban’ or “ḥaram” them in Hebrew which means to destroy, or wipe out or cut off and have no part with. They were not to intermarry with them and were to break down, destroy, smash and burn their carved images. Yisra’ĕl  is יהוה’s treasured possession that was to be kept set-apart and clean as a light to the nations. And Giḇ‘on was a sub-sect of one of the seven stronger nations in Kenaʽan which was to be destroyed. Giḇ’on was the city that was closest to where Yisra’ĕl  were camped at Gilgal and obviously knew that there days were numbered as the fear of יהוה had gone before Yisra’ĕl  into the enemies camps, and so all the nations gathered together to fight against Yisra’ĕl. Nations that were divided and fought against each other were now joining forces to come up against יהוה’s people! How true that is still today – enemies will quickly unite against the people of יהוה! Instead of uniting with the others Giḇ’on chose a different approach, being the next to be hit – they decided to use deceit rather than force!

What Yeriḥo could not do with walls or what Ai could not eventually do with weapons, Giḇ’on did with deceit. What we can see from this is that Satan will try one device after another in order to try to defeat יהוה’s people and we are to constantly be on our guard. What is interesting to note hear is that we see how after great victories Satan began using subtle attacks. It may just be that when we experience great victories to battles that the enemy is right there ready to attack us in a subtle and deceptive way for which we are to be watchful for.

In Deḇarim 20 the instruction was that after they had destroyed the 7 nations commanded to destroy, that if they encountered a city that was far from them, they could offer a call for peace and if the city had accepted then they would become compulsory labour to serve Yisra’ĕl , or else they would be destroyed. Giḇ’on somehow must have known about this and so used deceit , cleverly crafting a scheme that would save them from destruction and so they put on old clothes, used old sacks and old wineskins that were torn and mended, wore old patched sandals and stale bread that was crumbling and hard, and they worked out a very convincing story.

At first we can see that Yehoshua and the leaders did exercise caution saying to them, ‘hold on you could be tricking us as you might be from around here!’ Yet Giḇ’on had spinned a well-crafted story of how they came from very far away and their clothes, provisions etc. were so worn out from there long hard journey to come and meet with them, as they had heard what יהוה their Elohim had done in Mitsrayim and to the nations that were beyond the Yarděn. And their story worked!!! Before you say – ‘suckers’, how many of you have been deceived by this kind of well-crafted story telling in order to manipulate you and suck you dry of what you have to give?

Although Yehoshua and the leaders were initially cautious, they were quickly taken for a ride based on what they saw and heard. The Giḇ’onites were so convincing and they had plenty of evidence that seemed real to back up their story!

Today we face many Giḇ’onites, who can be so convincing at worming their way in to the assembly or fellowship of the believers and even with their manufactured evidence deceive many in to believing and following after their lies and twisted truth!

They came to Yehoshua saying that they would be their servants, and according to the Word, nations from far off would be if they accepted the call for peace, but notice here how according to Deḇarim Yisra’ĕl  was to offer the call, not the enemy – they enemy was to accept or reject it! Satan knows the Word, he knows what יהוה has said and he will come and twist the Truth and confuse us if we are not careful into falling prey to his schemes of deception!

Yisra’ĕl  made the decision to make a covenant with them, while they did not realise that things were not as they appeared! Yehoshua and his leaders were deceived – why? Because they took a decision without consulting יהוה! In those days יהוה would speak through the prophets and priests and through the Urim and Tummim that was on the priest’s breastplate. They did not inquire of יהוה – big mistake that led to a wrong decision as a result of well-crafted deception!

They made the decision to covenant with these people through reasoning in using their own wisdom and carnal thinking, perhaps even felt sorry for these guys who came and felt they could relate to their hardships as they too had been on a long hard journey, where I might remind  you that their sandals and clothes did not wear out!

Yehoshua and the leaders certainly used their brains, make no mistake about it – they asked questions, they looked at the evidence and weighed up the situation that was presented before them, which by all accounts according to what they saw and heard seemed like the right decision to take at the time! Yet as we see from this - there was one major critical factor clearly missing – they did not ask יהוה!!! They obviously thought there was no need to ask יהוה – they were wrong!

Today it is still very much the same for many of us in most situations – we make quick decisions based on the evidence we see before us and even may weigh up the odds yet fail to take it to יהוה!!! Why do we do that? We got to learn to take everything in prayer to יהוה!!!

They had allowed the enemy in the camp and now had to live with the consequences of their mistake as they made a hasty decision on an important matter and it cost them! We need to learn from these events that we too must not be found making hasty decisions in our life without first seeking the guidance of יהוה our Elohim! Now please hear me out here, I am not saying that we need to have large prayer meeting about what we are going to have for breakfast – but you all know what I am talking about – there are decisions that we make every day that need to be taken to יהוה – else we may find ourselves making bad decisions and have to deal with the effects of those choices!

We must learn not to judge according to the flesh and we must not depend upon our own human wisdom and understanding:

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in יהוה with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 Know Him in all your ways, and He makes all your paths straight.

Yaʽaqoḇ/James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of Elohim, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it shall be given to him.

We must learn to ask יהוה for wisdom and know that He gives it generously and we must be very careful not to make ‘worldly alliances’ no matter how appealing or ‘right’ they may appear. The Word tells us that friendship with the world is enmity or hatred before Elohim! Making alliances with that which is not of Elohim and has not been inquired of Elohim is hatred toward Him… ouch! For some this may seem shocking and it should – we must be very careful who and what we make alliances with. Deception would not be deception if it didn’t deceive- that is obvious – so let us not be found being deceived and end up making rash excuses in order to rationalise our decisions!

Deception is a danger to us all! Satan is the master deceiver who has a mission and that is to get us to fall from our steadfastness and fall into his traps that are disastrous and detrimental to our health and well-being!

Satan’s message is simply this: to make truth appear or sound like a lie and make a lie appear or sound like truth and the only way we can discern the difference is through our walking in the Word and ability to inquire of יהוה and be obedient to His voice even when the appearance of evil seems so right!

The Giḇ’onites had the appearance of being very honourable, harmless and honest and Yehoshua certainly would not have fallen to their deception if this were not the case. They certainly knew how to deceive and Satan used them in an attempt at stopping them from taking the land.

The enemy knows how to use the Word for their own purposes and we are to be always alert and watchful.

The Giḇ’onites lied, they lied were they were from, they lied about their clothing and food, they lied about themselves saying that they were on a peace mission – sounds pretty much like many ‘peace missions’ going on in the world today! And they called themselves servants when they were enemies, and above all they blasphemed the name of יהוה.

I cannot help but realise how this very Giḇ’onite deceptive strategy of Satan is at work in the church today, as many too have been deceived into living a lie, they have been presented a lie and are promoting and teaching lies – lies that are twisted truth – which at many times has the very appearance of sincerity, and is loaded with well-crafted and manufactured evidence that makes it so believable – yet the hordes of folk out there are not inquiring our Elohim, יהוה of Hosts is His Name!

The Giḇ’onites were wise enough not to mention the victories at Yeriḥo and Ai as the news of these victories would certainly not have reached faraway lands at this point and as we can see and learn from this that Satan’s ambassadors can lie more convincingly that many believers today can tell the Truth! “Religious lies’ are often used in order to give the impression and appearance of seeking יהוה and so easily make a ‘profession of faith’ telling their sad stories hoping to reach into the hearts of their listeners and manipulate them in to picking their pockets. We need to understand that deception is out there and it is so real and many times right in our faces, for which we need to carefully consider our words and actions and be diligent in our ability to take everything to יהוה in prayer.

True faith involves patience and we are told in Yeshayahu/Isaiah 28:16 that whoever believes will not act hastily. Belief comes by hearing and if you have not inquired and heard then do not make a hasty call that may cost you!

Shemoth/Exodus 34:12 “Guard yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.

 They were expressly told to guard against making covenants with the inhabitants of the Promised Land and it is interesting to me hear how we see Yehoshua and the leaders guard being down. The Hebrew understanding of walking in יהוה’s instructions is to hear – guard – do. In order to guard to do, one needs to hear first. They were unable to guard the commands at this point for they never sought יהוה to hear. Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness. if you leave out seeking Him and hearing His voice, be cautioned that your ability to guard may be weakened and therefore your ability to do may be hindered and lead to sin!

Yehoshua acted in haste and broke the commands of יהוה and made a covenant with the enemy. And now they had to live with the consequences of their words. They had made an oath in the Name of יהוה, which now could not be broken!

Believing lies as opposed to listening to יהוה will cause you to end up in some very hot water!

In verse 14 it states that the men of Yisra’ĕl  took some of their food, without asking the mouth of יהוה! This verse sounds very strange, however among Arabs, eating bread and salt with a guest is considered a sign of peace and friendship. Just think how mouldy and bad this bread must have looked? And they took some. The danger today is that there is still the deception of Giḇ’on going on as it has only the stale mouldy bread of twisted doctrine that has no life, but only the appearance of life to offer and the masses are eating it up and are saying, ‘peace, peace’ when there is no peace! We must be careful not to partake of stale bread. יהושע  is the Bread of Life and we are to eat of Him and not of some watered down twisted recipe that has not been proven over time but has become mouldy and very stale!

We must be aware of the devil’s deceptions. He will attempt to deceive your thoughts and wants us to take our spiritual walk and fight of faith lightly in order to catch us off-guard. The major warfare of the enemy is to distort the truth of יהוה and get you to think thoughts that do not line up with the Word.

We must learn to take everything to יהוה in prayer and not make the mistake Yisra’ĕl  made that day by not taking time to seek יהוה! What often keeps us from prayer is pride, presumption and even pain, and without prayer we are more open to Satan’s attacks!

What we can learn from these events is that we are to be accountable for our words and as יהושע  tells us in Mattithyahu 5:37 that our yes must be yes and our no must be no, for anything beyond this is from evil!

Deception can easily lead to bad choices, so let me ask you, “What happens when you make a mistake, or a bad choice and you come to the realisation of the fact that it was a bad call?”

Do you own up to your mistake or do you cover it up? Yehoshua owned up and took responsibility and accountability for the bad decision and let יהוה work it out:

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 28:13 “He who hides his transgressions does not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them finds compassion.

Perhaps through bad judgement calls you have found yourself sampling the ‘bread’ of the enemy thinking that it is the truth and as a result have made choices that you have had to live with. Well what we can learn from this is that words carry great power – this we know – now we must be found to be a people of integrity that keeps our word no matter the cost. Are you know as one who is reliable and one who keeps their word or are you not?

Much of what we say and do is done according to our carnal understanding and often without the help and guidance of the Ruach HaQodesh and this let me tell you needs to change, aměn!

Outward appearances and evidence may very well often seem appealing and convincing while not telling the whole story, and sadly most people go through life making critical decisions about family, finances and friendships without a thought of the spiritual significance and consequences of their decisions. There are many deceptions out there and many will try to deceive you and divert you away from doing the will of יהוה by presenting to you seemingly ‘good things’.  Today we must be aware of this and realise that there are many who are just like the Giḇ’onites who are intent on deceiving the children of יהוה and even after close inspection one may often not be able to see their true intentions as they may walk the walk and even talk the talk by appearance yet are not truly right with יהוה, which will always be revealed through time as we will know by the fruit that is produced – whether it be lasting fruit or genetically modified fruit!

Some vital lessons we can take from these events is as follows:

1 – Your enemy will surprise you – he thrives on the element of surprise trying to catch us off-guard! Yehoshua was blind-sided and never expected it!

2 – Don’t jump to conclusions without consultation with יהוה! Too often we come to conclusions based on outward appearances and the enemy masquerades as the angel of light. Test all things according to the Torah of יהוה – do not simply just believe what you see and hear!

3 – Do not be flattered into sin and disobedience – a tactic that the Giḇ’onites used to get them to violate their principles through peer pressure.

4 – Always seek counsel from יהוה

Yoḥanan/John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.

When we don’t take our plans and decisions to יהוה Satan will be very quick to try and pull a fast one over us.

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

5 – Bad decisions have consequences. Yes they made a bad choice, yet they kept their word. Over 400 years later king Sha’ul broke this treaty and tried to wipe out Giḇ’on for which Yisra’ĕl  was punished!

6 – Deception is always exposed – in this case it took only 3 days – for some that was too long, but no matter how long it talks deception will always be exposed for light exposes and expels the darkness!

7 – Always leave room for the favour of יהוה for יהוה will work it all out! Despite their error יהוה worked it for good and they had servants in the temple. It is interesting to note how the Giḇ’onites remained faithful to serving Yisra’ĕl  and we see that even one of Dawiḏ’s mighty men of valour was a Giḇ’onite and we also see in Scripture that as long as they remained obedient in service then they would be under יהוה’s protection. The Giḇ’onites helped rebuild Yerushalayim under Nehemiah and when Yisra’ĕl  whored after other idols; Giḇ’on remained faithful in service to יהוה! They became additional soldiers for battles to win in Kenaʽan and were eventually assimilated into the community. So what turned out in a desperate measure for survival ended up in a submitted nation who served יהוה and greatly feared Him.

Even when you make mistakes and bad decisions, leave room for the favour of יהוה. Despite the errors of both Yehoshua and Giḇ’on, יהוה had a plan for their problems. Mistakes placed in the hands of יהוה will cause us to wait patiently on and trust in Him.

Perhaps you too have found yourself being fooled by the tricks and wiles of the enemy – well let me remind you that despite your failures - failure is not the end of the child of Elohim. It would be utter foolishness not to bring your failure to יהוה and try to go it on your own – call upon His Name and He will set you free and lead you in righteousness.

All of us have been deceived at some stage and we often find ourselves being caught through deception more than we would like. But how are you going to respond to deception? Will you allow deception to stop you from allowing the favour of יהוה to come to you or are you going to recognise it as you test all things and take it to יהוה in prayer and let Him help you in your decisions and so lead you forth in Truth, protected in Him!

יהוה redeems mistakes, praise Him for that!

May we realise that the enemy is like a lion seeking to devour us and he is also a snake who seeks to deceive us. We are to be awake to his schemes and beware of the Giḇ’onites that are closer than we realise, even though Satan will get you to think he is far away! Do not make covenants with the Giḇ’onites of today! יהוה calls us to live lives without compromise – Beware of the Giḇ’onites of today that will tempt you to compromise your walk with יהוה

It is time to do away with compromises. It’s time to deal a death-blow to things that will lure you away from what is right.

Let me close with this story. It was getting to be winter, and a hunter went out into the forest to shoot a bear out of which he planned to make a warm coat. By and by he saw a bear coming toward him and raised his gun and took aim.
“Wait,” said the bear, “why do you want to shoot me?”
“Because I am cold,” said the hunter.
“But I am hungry,” the bear replied, “so maybe we can reach an agreement.”
In the end, the hunter was well enveloped with the bear’s fur and the bear had eaten his dinner.

Beware of the bears – beware of the Giḇ’onites – beware of the compromise. We always lose out when we try to compromise with sin. It will consume us in the end. Seek יהוה and do good!

יהוה bless you and guard you, יהוה make His face shine upon you and give you favour, יהוה lift up His face to you and give you peace!

Shalom!