OLD TESTAMENT READING- JOSHUA 9:3-10:43.
THE CONFEDERATION OF THE FIVE KINGS
I think it is essential to review what was happening at the end of our Old Testament reading yesterday (Joshua 8:30-35).
After their victory at Ai (Joshua 8:1-29), Joshua and the new generation marched 20 miles north to Mt. Ebal. There they were to renew the Mosaic covenant (Joshua 8:30-35). They built an altar and made a copy of the Law as commanded by Moses in Deuteronomy 27:4-6,8:
Deuteronomy 27:4-6 4 “So it shall be when you cross the Jordan, you shall set up on Mount Ebal, these stones, as I am commanding you today, and you shall coat them with lime. 5 “Moreover, you shall build there an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones; you shall not wield an iron tool on them. 6 “You shall build the altar of the LORD your God of uncut stones, and you shall offer on it burnt offerings to the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 27:8 8 “You shall write on the stones all the words of this law very distinctly.”
The Israelites renewed their covenant commitment to the Lord at Mt. Ebal, reciting the curses and blessings of the Law, as commanded by the Lord through Moses (Deuteronomy 27:11-28:68).
But notice—as soon as the children of Israel renewed their covenant, submitting themselves to obey the rule of God as made known through His revealed Word, the Amorite kings unite against them to plot their downfall.
The Biblical text links the fresh consecration of the Israelites at Mt Ebal with the plan of the five Amorite kings to attack the Israelites.
This historical event provides a typical illustration of how the enemies of the believer resent any fresh consecration to the Word of God. They will express their hostility to the Lord and those dedicated to serving Him with an outright attack.
Joshua 9:1 “As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan heard of this…. (i.e., the children of Israel recommitting themselves to God with fresh submission to His Law; Joshua 8:30-35) they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.”
The principle is this; the enemy hates it when we give God His rightful place in our lives. As Lord, Jesus is worthy of our obedience. As Savior, He is worthy of our trust.
There is a similarity between the unification of the five disparate kings against the Law-embracing Israelites to the unification of the Priests, Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees of the apostate Judaism of Jesus’ time against Jesus, the incarnate Lawgiver. A. W. Pink writes, “While He healed the sick and provided the multitude with loaves and fishes, their hostility was held in abeyance; but when He pressed upon them the claims of His Lordship, defined in terms of discipleship, and made known the character and requirements of His kingdom, their resentment soon flared up. Not only did He come unto His own and ‘His own received Him not’, but His citizens hated Him and sent a message after Him saying, “We will not have this One to reign over us’ (Luke 19:14).
Even former rivals, Pilate and King Herod, became friends when they were confronted with the Incarnate Lawgiver.
Luke 23:12 12 Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.
While the five kings were planning to attack the Israelites, having heard of their consecration to discharge by grace their obligations to the Law, the Gibeonites were hearing about the astounding victory that the God of Israel had given His covenant people at Jericho and Ai.
In the Book of Joshua, the events we read are not the work of fiction or the legends of a tribal religion. The other nations at the time were very aware of what was happening and postured themselves accordingly.
THE DECEPTION OF THE GIBEONITES
Joshua and his men are deceived into making a treaty with the Gibeonites of Canaan. Gibeon was a larger city than Ai and known for its fighting men (Joshua 10:2). As mentioned earlier, the cities of Jericho, Ai, and Gibeon were Canaanite military outposts. Yet, when the Gibeonites heard of the supernatural nature of the victories of the Israelites, they feared for their lives and pretended to be ambassadors from a far country. They disguised themselves as those who had been on a long journey. They wore tattered clothes, shoes and carried old stale bread.
Instead of dealing with their enemies as instructed by the Lord, the Israelites are deceived and make a treaty with the Gibeonites under these false pretenses.
The church of the Lord Jesus needs to exercise discernment and be careful not to receive into membership those who profess to be believers in Christ but have no genuine testimony of repentance and saving faith.
It is true that even in wrath, God remembers mercy and offers it to those who will submit to His terms for peace:
Deuteronomy 20:10-11 10 “When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace. 11 “If it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you.
But in this case, the Lord’s instruction is clear:
Exodus 34:12-16 12 “Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. 13 “But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 —for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God— 15 otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.
The failure of the Israelites is spelled out:
Joshua 9:14 14 So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD.
We are to be mindful that we are dealing with Satanic strategies. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
Joshua and the Israelites bind themselves to the oath to let them live. Three days later, they discover that they have been deceived, but they do not attack the Gibeonite cities because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath. The whole assembly grumbles against the leaders for being so foolish. They resolve to let the Gibeonites live but serve as woodcutters and water carriers for the entire community.
The five kings are irate when they learn that the Gibeonites had made peace with the Israelites and now were sided with them. They decide to attack Gibeon.
The good news is that Joshua hears the Lord speaking to him once again. In response to the Word of God, Joshua goes up from Gilgal to defend Gibeon from its attackers, and he witnesses the Lord acting on his behalf.
Joshua 10:10-11 10 And the LORD confounded them before Israel, and He slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, the LORD threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.
The Lord also provides extra daylight in answer to prayer so the Israelites could totally defeat the Amorites.
A bold prayer request if there ever was one”: “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon in the Valley of Aijalon.” (Joshua 10:12)
We may not know the specific details of what happened, only that the Lord heeded the voice of a man in prayer and “there has been no day like it before or since” (Joshua 10:14).
The five kings flee and hide in a cave but are eventually apprehended by Joshua and his commanders who are told to put their feet on their necks. This act, Joshua says, is symbolic of what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.
Remember- God had been patient in bringing judgment upon the Amorites and their detestable practices (including child sacrifice, horrific perversions, and violence). He had waited 400 years for them to repent. How do we know this?
God gave this promise to Abraham concerning his descendants, prophesying their 400-year Egyptian captivity, and that during this time he would be delaying the judgment upon those who inhabited in the Promised Land until they had fully expressed their iniquity.
Genesis 15:14-16 14 “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. 16 “Then in the fourth generation they will return here (the land of Canaan), for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
We see that the prophecy comes true as the Lord hands over the cities in the Promised Land; first Makkedah, then Libnah, then Lachish, then the land of Gezer (Horam), then Eglon, Hebron, and Debir.
Joshua 10:42 42 Joshua captured all these kings and their lands at one time, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.
TODAY’S READING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT LUKE 16:19-17:10.
Jesus tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man has wealth, comfort, friends and has made a name for himself in this life. But when he dies, he has no wealth, no comfort, no friends, and no name! He who was clothed and dined in luxury finds himself in hell tormented in unquenchable fire, thirst, and hunger.
The beggar, named Lazarus (meaning ‘God has helped’), at the rich man’s gate, was covered with sores and lived in poverty and continual hunger. He received more sympathy from the dogs who licked his sores, than he did from the rich man who had food to spare that he refused to share.
When the beggar dies, he receives an angelic escort to the paradise section of Hades, where he is received at Abraham’s side. There his name abides. His name is known- Lazarus-God has helped, and he is comforted enjoying fellowship in his eternal reward.
In the agony of hell’s fire, the rich man sees Abraham far away in paradise with Lazarus at Abraham’s side. He addresses Abraham as ‘Father’, and asks him to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool his tongue. Abraham replies to the rich man with the endearing term, ‘Son’.
Jesus would not tell a story that would mislead us. Hell is real. Jesus spoke about it often (more than he did about heaven). He tells us that our deliverance from God’s just punishment comes through faith in God’s testimony given in His Word.
The rich man learns that Lazarus cannot comfort him because the chasm between hell and paradise is uncrossable. He begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house and warn his five brothers of the dangers of hellfire.
The rich man says, “If someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.”
Abraham replies that his true sons in the faith repent because they believe the Word of God.
Luke 16:31 31 “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'”
Jesus goes on to teach that we are responsible not to tempt or mislead others, either by word or example (Luke 17:1).
His followers are called to a supernatural lifestyle involving total instant forgiveness if your brother sins against you and repents (Luke 17:4). We are called to supernatural faith (17:6). Living this God-glorifying way is our joyful duty, for we are children of our Father, and our Spirit-empowered service and response to situations are to be expected (17:10).
READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS
This is the last of the Asaph Psalms. It speaks of unrelenting pressure. Israel in the coming day will be in the winepress. A Gentile coalition wants to wipe Israel off the map (verse 4). So, the Psalmist calls God to speak and act on behalf of His covenant people and put His glory on display.
Psalm 83:18 18 That they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.
TODAY’S PROVERB- ANOTHER WARNING TO THE LAZY
Proverbs 13:4 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat.
There is a rich blessing when we actively pursue God’s purpose, diligently stewarding our God-given roles and responsibilities.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, You are the Most Gracious God. Thank you for giving us Jesus, our Greater Joshua, who has provided for believers His shared inheritance. He is our Captain, and we trust He will strengthen us for the battle and enable us to stand secure in His victory. Grant us discernment, and keep us from presumptuous sins, and from leaning on our own understanding. Grant us the wisdom to avoid the pitfalls of deception. Embolden us to warn others that there is a heaven to seek and a hell to shun. In Jesus’ Name. Amen