Discernment and Deception

20 Jan

I’ve always been intrigued by the account of Joshua and the Gibeonite deception. This unique story, found in Joshua chapter 9, still sends chills down my spine. It went something like this.

The Israelites had just crossed the Jordan river on thier way to the promised land. After conquering Jericho and Ai, they set thier sites on Jerusalem and its surrounding cities. Among the people destined for slaughter were the Gibeonites, who had heard about Joshua and Israel’s advancing army. Not wanting to be listed among Joshua’s conquered cities, the leaders of Gideon resorted to deception as a means of survival. And what did they have to lose? They knew they were no match for the armies of Israel.

The Gibeonites sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys down with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins. They wore worn-out sandals and ragged clothes, packing their travel bags with dry, moldy bread, hoping the Israelites would fall for their ruse. When they arrived at Israel’s camp at Gilgal, they embellished their twisted tale, saying they had come from a distant land and petitioned Joshua for a peace treaty.

Instead of consulting the Lord about these strangers in their camp, Israel’s leadership council relied on what they saw rather than what they sensed–a huge mistake!  After examining their food and listening to their concocted “story”, Joshua adds insult to injury by making a peace treaty with the Gibeonites and promising them protection, guaranteeing it with a binding oath. Little did they know they were signing their names to a promise that would haunt them for years to come.

Three days later it was discovered that the Gibeonite representatives had totally deceived the Israelites, telling them they were from a far off country, when they in fact lived just a few days journey away! Joshua and the leaders of Israel were completely deceived by the Gibeonites and all Israel was in an uproar. The deception had completely caught Joshua and the leadership off-guard– and the people of Israel let their leadership know exactly how they felt about it.

We’ve all made that same mistake at one time or another. Someone deceived us along the way and we fell for it–hook, line and sinker. I wish I could tell you it’s never happened to me, but it has. And more than once. If we were to scan the books of the Bible, we would see story after story of lies and deception. Eve is deceived by the serpent and eats the forbidden fruit. Cain deceives Able and kills his blood brother in broad daylight. Jacob deceives his feeble, and nearly blind father Isaac, into believing he is his brother Esau. Judas betrays Jesus with a deceptive kiss and the list goes on and on.

Thank God that we now have the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives! Just as Jesus and the early disciples were empowered with wisdom and discernment through the Spirit, we now can discern situations we face each day by that same power of the Holy Spirit.

In the old covenant, people had to rely on their local priest at the place of worship to discern the will of the Lord. Now that we are the temple of God, the Bible says that we can know the mind of the Lord by the Spirit that now lives within us.

You and I don’t have to be in the dark concerning the will and plan of God for our lives! You may have struggled in the past, wondering which way to go, or where to turn in a given situation. But it’s a new day and a new season in your life! The word says ” the old is gone and the new has come”.

Let’s not be fooled by outward appearances! God has given us his Holy Spirit, to discern situations correctly. Relying on the Spirit’s help will keep us on track in this new season of life and ministry.

Prayer: Lord, in this new season, may we rely on the Spirit for wisdom and discernment, and not be deceived by our own natural inclinations. Amen.

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One Response to “Discernment and Deception”

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