We studied Joshua 9-10 this morning in Bible class. Joshua and the Israelites are in the promised land and they are in the process of conquering the land. Some of the neighboring people, the Gibeonites, figure they won’t defeat the Israelites in battle. So they resort to trickery. They put on their oldest shoes, pull wineskins from the trash heap, and collect moldy bread and set out on the short trek to the Israelite camp in Gilgal. God’s people had been told not to make any treaties with the people in the land, but these people claimed to live far, far away and they gave honor to God. Without consulting God for his direction they make a treaty with the Gibeonites only to find out shortly later that they lived nearby!
The first lesson is one we see often in Joshua, that in all things we need to rely on God and seek him out through prayer. The second lesson, that I want to focus in on with this post is the importance of giving our word and making good on it. The Israelites put themselves in a bind because God commanded them to destroy everyone in the land but he also commanded them to make good on their oaths. In our world, the treaty wouldn’t stand. Written on lies and false pretenses it wouldn’t make it through a court of law due to all the trickery that lead to the covenant being signed.
Avoiding the loophole:
They didn’t look for a loophole on how to weasel out of their contractual obligations. Instead they honored it and spared these people. What is more, in Joshua 10, the Gibeonites are attacked and call on Israel for aid. If they wanted a loophole out of this treaty here it was. They could have just said no and let the Gibeonites suffer defeat. That might have ended their covenant with the Gibeonites and got rid of them for good. Instead, they took the very best troops the had, marched all night and defeated the attackers, rescuing the Gibeonites.
Zealously upholding our integrity:
I am amazed at the zeal by which they stood by their word. They made a promised and they were going to do everything in their power to show that they were willing to make good on their word, even if it was dangerous or uncomfortable. I think most of us might be tempted to take one of many of the loopholes that presented themselves. This story challenges us to take our word seriously because when they gave it their best we see that God then came and fought for them! I think the same thing can happen today. When God sees us honoring our word he is willing to come alongside us and assist.
All of our actions that people see teach them something about the God we claim to serve. If they see us as honorable and true to our word, that has a positive reflection on God. If we claim to be Christ followers and yet are not trustworthy to those around us, what are we teaching people about the God we say we are trying to be like?
Let us all be true to our word, careful of what we promise, and go to as great of lengths necessary to show ourselves to be honorable and have integrity.