In the Book of Joshua 9:1-27
Observers have noted that certain kinds of ants have a passion for the sweet, glandular substance given off by the caterpillar of a large blue butterfly. They can become so “addicted” to it that they even seek out “the supplier” and carry him to their nest with delight. But they unwittingly bring home an enemy in disguise, for the caterpillar gorges himself exclusively on ant larva. Usually such a threat to the colony would be repelled with great vigor, but the adults enjoy the tasty secretions of the “guest” so much that they are oblivious of the fact that their young are being devoured in the process.
As I read this story of the foolish ants, I began to see a similarity between this story and what the Bible tells us about Joshua and Israel in the book of Joshua chapter 9. In these verses, we see Israel becoming too friendly with their enemies.
The people of Israel have just defeated the city of Ai and are preparing to march deeper into Canaan as they claim the promised land which the Lord had given to them. As I said, they are fresh from a victory. In fact, they now have a couple of impressive victories under their belts. They have seen the great walled city of Jericho defeated and they have witnessed the pesky little town of Ai defeated too. However, before they will ever see another victory, Israel must learn a valuable lesson about becoming too friendly with the enemy.
In the battles and stories related to Israel’s conquest of Canaan in the book of Joshua, we can see a picture of our lives as children of God as we struggle to obtain the victory in our lives.
1. Jericho – A type of the world – It was defeated, and we have the promise of victory over the world in our walk with the Lord Jesus, 1 John 5:4, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
2. Ai – A type of the flesh – It, too, was defeated, and we have the promise of victory in the flesh as we battle for the Lord Jesus, Romans 7:24-25, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
3. Gibeon – A type of the devil – This is a battle that still must be fought. However, we have been promised victory in this area as well. To obtain it, we must trust the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in His will day by day. He can be defeated – James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
In this passage, that recounts Israel’s experience with the people of Gibeon, we can see a portrait of the devil and his devices. As we will see, there is a danger in becoming friendly with the enemy.
When all the kings of Canaan heard what had happened to Ai and to Jericho, they joined forces to seek to defeat Israel. Isn’t it amazing how the devil’s crowd will join up to fight God’s people? Just look at the way Jesus was treated by His enemies. The Pharisees and the Herodians hated one another, but they came together in the common effort of seeing Jesus put to death.
A. V. 4 He Uses Deceptive Wiles – When the Gibeonites heard that the Israelites were headed in their direction, they devised a scheme to trick Israel into making a peace treaty with them. They dressed in old clothes, carried old bread and wine and pretended that they were from far away. They did everything in their power to trick Israel.
What a picture of our enemy, the devil! The Bible tells us in Eph. 6:11 that we fight an enemy that uses “wiles” to get his way in our lives. The word “wiles” refers to “deceit, trickery, cunning arts.” You see friends, Satan would like nothing better than to trip you up and cause you to fall into one of his traps. Just before Jesus died, He told Simon Peter that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat, Luke 22:31-32. Satan wants to do the same to you and me. He wants us to fall. He wants us to fail, and he will stop at nothing to bring that to pass. 1 Tim. 3:7 tells us that Satan uses “snares” to catch his prey. This word refers to a trap set by a hunter in order that he might capture his prey. So, Satan uses deceptive wiles, just like the people of Gibeon did.)
B. V. 4-5 He Uses Deceptive Wares – The Gibeonites had taken every step possible to deceive Israel into believing that they were from a far away country. They carried old sacks on their donkeys, broken and bound up wine skins, patched shoes shabby clothing and even some moldy bread. Their entire aim was to trick Israel.
May I remind you that when the devil comes to you in temptation, or to trip you up, he does not do so in a red suit with a pointy tail and horns. He will not be carrying a pitchfork and he will not smell like sulphur. When the devil comes to your life to cause you trouble, he will appear as an angel of light, 2 Cor. 11:14. He will make his plan appear to be the perfect thing for your life.
C. V. 6-13 He Uses Deceptive Words – Notice that in these verses, these men from Gibeon lied, v. 6, 9, 11-12; they used claimed to be something they were not, v. 8-9; and they were careful in what they referred to, v. 10 (Ill. They did not mention anything that had happened since Israel had crossed Jordan, giving the impression that they had indeed been traveling for quiet some time.)
Again, this is a perfect picture of our enemy, the devil. He will use slick and enticing speech to get you to yield to his plans for your life. He practiced this kind of trickery in the Garden of Eden when he talked to Eve, Gen. 3:1-6. He told her that she could question God’s Word, v. 1; He told her that God did not really mean what God has said, v. 3; He told her that God was really just holding out on her, v. 5. In other words, the devil will give you every reason in the world to justify the things he wants you to do. Then when you have followed him and are out of God’s will and in trouble, he will discard you like a piece of trash and leave you to rot in your sins!
A. V. 14 Their Ability To See Clearly Was Disrupted – Notice that in verse 7, Joshua initially was a little skeptical of these so-called ambassadors. He questioned them about their origin again in verse 8. Joshua is to be commended for his caution, but he gave up just a little too soon! When the Gibeonites showed him their clothes, their food and the broken wineskins, Joshua was more than impressed and he believed their story!
If the Lord has done anything for His children, He has given us a perfect Book and powerful Spirit. These two items give us a distinct advantage when it comes to fighting the devil! Using the Bible and the inner leading of the Spirit of God, we can do what 1 Pet. 5:8 says and we can be “sober and vigilant“.
My friends, when your spiritual vision gets dim through neglect of the Word of God and prayer, you are very susceptible to the tricks and traps of the enemy. It is impossible to have the victory over him when we neglect the very things which are designed to make us strong!
B. V. 14 Their Ability To Seek Counsel Was Disrupted – Notice that Israel ate with the Gibeonites and did not even take the matter to the Lord in prayer. To break bread with someone in that day was considered to be a sign of unalterable friendship. But what they considered to be the right thing to do turned into a problem because they did not take the time to take the matter to the Lord in prayer first and neither did they take the time to wait on His answer. As a result, they stepped out of the will of God and had to suffer the consequences!
How many times has this been true in your life and mine? We look at what the devil has to offer us and we join up with him without even seeking the Lord’s will in the matter
C. V. 15-21 Their Ability To Stay Clean Was Disrupted – In these verses, we see that the Israelites ability to be a separate people before the Lord was marred by their decision to make a league with the Gibeonites. God had told them to utterly destroy the inhabitants and to make no covenants with them at all, Deut 7:2, “And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:” However, Israel disobey this command and as a result they sinned before the Lord.
Before we judge them too harshly, let’s look at ourselves for a minute. How many times have we been guilty of following Satan instead of the Lord? The Word of God plainly tells us what the Lord’s will is for our lives, 2 Cor. 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,“.
Just ask David, the sweet singer of Israel, the man after God’s own heart, what the devil can do to your life. You follow the devil and you, like David might find yourself in a place of prayer begging God just to restore the joy of your heart and life, Psa. 51:12. Don’t let that happen in your life! Take the steps that are necessary to defeat the devil and walk in victory!)
A. V. 22 The Enemy Must Be Confronted – When Joshua found out what these people had done, he went straight to them and rebuked them and confronted them about their sins.
There is a lesson in that for the church this morning. We do not have to roll over and play dead while the devil molds us to his will! We need to be like the Lord Jesus, Who when He was tempted turned to the Word of God and confronted Satan with the truth of the Book and caused the devil to have to flee from His presence!
B. V. 27 The Enemy Must Be Controlled – There is no question that Joshua and Israel made a mistake when they dealt with the Gibeonites. However, mistakes do not have to spell permanent ruin. Joshua realized the seriousness of what they had done and he immediately took the necessary steps to control the situation. They can’t kill them, because they have given them their word, v. 19. but they can control them!
In your life and mine, there will be times when we will step out of the Lord’s will and commit sin. That is just a fact! However, the mistakes we make in following the devil do not have to be permanent, neither do they have to destroy us completely!
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