With two wins under their belts, the Israelites were on a roll when it happened. The following passage is a bit lengthy for a blog post, but you need the back story. Check it out:
Now all the kings west of the Jordan River heard about what had happened. These were the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who lived in the hill country, in the western foothills,a and along the coast of the Mediterranean Seab as far north as the Lebanon mountains. These kings combined their armies to fight as one against Joshua and the Israelites. But when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins. They put on worn-out, patched sandals and ragged clothes. And the bread they took with them was dry and moldy. When they arrived at the camp of Israel at Gilgal, they told Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant land to ask you to make a peace treaty with us.”
The Israelites replied to these Hivites, “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.” They replied, “We are your servants.” “But who are you?” Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?” They answered, “Your servants have come from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the LORD your God and of all he did in Egypt. We have also heard what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River—King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan (who lived in Ashtaroth). So our elders and all our people instructed us, ‘Take supplies for a long journey. Go meet with the people of Israel and tell them, “We are your servants; please make a treaty with us.”’ “This bread was hot from the ovens when we left our homes. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and split open. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our very long journey.” So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the LORD. Then Joshua made a peace treaty with them and guaranteed their safety, and the leaders of the community ratified their agreement with a binding oath. (Joshua 9:1-16, NLT)
Did you see it? The Israelites were deceived for one reason–they didn’t consult the Lord. Now the first you might ask is “why not?”
Maybe they were a little bit self confident. After all, they had just come off two significant victories and were starting to get their legs underneath them. Or perhaps they just resorted to good old fashioned common sense. Even the most committed people of faith can default to logic and reason, paying attention to their senses and relying on their experience. Could it have been that they just didn’t think it was a big deal? You know how it goes. We’ll let God handle the big stuff like Jericho and Ai; we’ll handle the small stuff.
Regardless of what excuse Joshua and the sojourners had, they blew it. They didn’t consult the Lord and the results would be a burden to the nation for generations to come. This week I want to post some thoughts on the importance of prayer for the people of God. Not the kind of prayer that is offered on behalf of the sick and suffering, but the prayer that is committed to discern God’s guidance for the church as she seeks to fulfill God’s plan and purpose.