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Joshua Chapter Nine, Dealing With The Devil

In our study of Joshua chapter nine, we will look at how the devil deceived Israel and apply it to our walk as Christians.

Joshua 9:1 & 2

Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things - the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites) - they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.

As we saw in chapter 8, Israel was back on track with the Lord and God had given them another victory in the land of Canaan. The people living in the land heard about the victories over Jericho and Ai. They decided to band together to try to stop the Israelites. As Christians, sometimes the same type of thing seems to happen. We can be walking victorious with the Lord and the next thing we know it is like the entire world is lined up against us.

Joshua 9:3-6

However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, 'We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.'

The Gibeonites did not join the coalition against Israel but decided to try to trick them. This is also a picture of our Christian walk and the struggles that we face. Most of us recognize the enemy (the devil) at work in those who attack us but we often miss those that try to deceive us (Gibeonites).

Joshua 9:7 & 8

The Israelites said to the Hivites, 'But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?' 'We are your servants,' they said to Joshua. But Joshua asked, 'Who are you and where do you come from?'

We see that Joshua and Israel was watching out and trying to obey God as He had told them not to make a treaty with the people of the land. When questioned, the Hivites (Gibeonites) lied and we are reminded that Satan is the father of lies.

Joshua 9:9 & 10

They answered: 'Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan - Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.'

The Gibeonites used a mixture of lies and truth to deceive the Israelites. They surely had heard about what God had done in Egypt and seen what He had done to the Amorite kings. We remember from Exodus 9 that God said that the plagues in Egypt were for that purpose. We are reminded of the fact that this method is still used by Satan to deceive even Christians. The first step in dealing with the devil is recognizing his methods of operation.

Joshua 9:11-13

'And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, "Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, 'We are your servants; make a treaty with us.'" This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.'

The story is backed up by the props that they brought with them. Many times we put more trust in our physical senses than in God and that is what the Israelites did. We must remember that it is easy to deceive the eyes. That is what magicians and the like do and it is also how the devil operates.

Joshua 9:14

The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.

We see that Joshua and the Israelites did not stop to pray before they did anything. They tasted the food and went with their physical senses instead of asking God about this decision. As Christians, we must remember that our dealings with the devil must begin with direction from God.

Joshua 9:15 & 16

Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath. Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them.

Joshua did not pray before making a decision and the other leaders agreed with him without seeking God's will in the matter. Three days after making the oath, they heard that they had been deceived. Throughout the Bible, the number three is associated with the earthly display of God's will for men. At the end of these days, they found that they were out of God's will in the matter but they had made a promise that they could not break. As Christians, this period of three days would have been a good time for prayer and fasting to seek the will of God. This is how we are to face the schemes of the devil without falling for them.

Joshua 9:17-19

So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, but all the leaders answered, 'We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now.'

The Israelites went to confront the Gibeonites but did not attack them because of the treaty. The rest of the people were upset with the leadership but they could not break their oath. This is a reminder of what happens in any group that is not completely led by God. This would have been a total of six days after they had made the decision. We are reminded that the number six is associated with the works of men and, now, they had come to the end of what they could do. We are reminded that they could have avoided all of this by praying on that first day. It is also better for us if we do not swear any oaths because the devil can use them against us.

Joshua 9:20 & 21

'This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God's wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.' They continued, 'Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly.' So the leaders' promise to them was kept.

The entire assembly agreed that they had to let the Gibeonites live but they also decided to make them slaves. This might sound good but it was still not in keeping with God's instructions to not make a treaty with the people of the land.

Joshua 9:22 & 23

Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, 'Why did you deceive us by saying, "We live a long way from you," while actually you live near us? You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.'

Because of their deception, Joshua pronounced a curse of the Gibeonite people. That curse was a partial fulfillment of the prophecy of Noah where he said that Canaan would one day serve Shem. The sacrifices at the tabernacle required a lot of wood for the fires and water for washing.

Joshua 9:24-27

They answered Joshua, 'Your servants were clearly told how the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.' So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.

The Gibeonites had deceived the Israelites in order to save their lives. They accomplished that purpose and willingly submitted to the forced labor.

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