1Now all the kings west of the Jordan 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, and along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far north as the Lebanon mountains.) 2These kings quickly combined their armies to fight against Joshua and the Israelites.
3But when the people of Gibeon heard what had happened to Jericho and Ai, 4they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old patched wineskins. 5They put on ragged clothes and worn-out, patched sandals. And they took along dry, moldy bread for provisions. 6When 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.”
7The 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.”
8They replied, “We will be your servants.”
“But who are you?” Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?”
9They answered, “We are from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the LORD your God and of all he did in Egypt. 10We 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). 11So our leaders and our people instructed us, ‘Prepare for a long journey. Go meet with the people of Israel and declare our people to be their servants, and ask for peace.’
12“This bread was hot from the ovens when we left. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. 13These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and cracked. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our long, hard trip.”
14So the Israelite leaders examined their bread, but they did not consult the LORD. 15Then Joshua went ahead and signed a peace treaty with them, and the leaders of Israel ratified their agreement with a binding oath.
16Three days later, the facts came out—these people of Gibeon lived nearby! 17The Israelites set out at once to investigate and reached their towns in three days. The names of these towns were Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18But the Israelites did not attack the towns, for their leaders had made a vow to the LORD, the God of Israel.
In Joshua 9, we see Joshua, the new leader of the Israelites committing a rookie mistake of leadership – check your facts!
The Israelites had spent 40 years wandering in the desert and when they finally crossed the Jordan river into the land of Canaan, they had a simple directive from the Lord – destroy the cities of the Canaanites who inhabited the land.
At this point in the narrative, the Israelites have removed the cities of Jericho and Ai. The Gibeonites hear about what happened to Jericho and Ai, and fearing for their own lives, they resort to deception to save themselves.
When they arrive on the scene, they tell Joshua and the other leaders that they’ve heard about the Lord’s amazing miracles in delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians and also His deeds in subduing the Amorite kings on the east side of the Jordan River. Cleverly, the Gibeonites make no mention of the recent conquests of Jericho and Ai, for that would likely reveal their ruse.
Joshua’s mistake is revealed in verse 14 where it says that he examined the bread but he didn’t consult the Lord.
How often have you neglected to consult the Lord when confronted with a critical decision or an important issue?
The facts came out just a few days later that the towns of the Gibeonites were close by, only a three days journey in fact.
If Joshua had paused to check the facts before signing the treaty, he could’ve learned that the information he was being fed wasn’t true and that the people were in fact part of the contingent of people that the Lord had directed them to remove from the land.
How exactly would Joshua have checked the facts? He didn’t have Google or Snopes.com.
The Lord was Joshua’s fact checker. Joshua was being directed by the Lord and his unique relationship gave him access to God’s insight and wisdom. But instead of checking with the Lord, Joshua instead chose to rush to judgment.
I see this rush to judgment play out all the time, even today. For example, have you ever received an e-mail from someone that shares some important information urging you to pass it on to everyone you know, only to find out, after checking Snopes.com or some other fact-check website that the information was completely false?
We live in an age of urgency, where people have a desire to be the first to get the scoop or demonstrate to others that we’re in the know. As a result, disinformation is rampant.
This passage reminds me that it’s important to verify information before passing it on and before acting on it. We have lots of tools at our disposal that allow us to verify the facts of a story or situation. When facts are in question or tools aren’t available to help us, we still can consult the Lord and ask for wisdom.
When we rush to make decisions without examining the facts or consulting the Lord, we’re more likely to make rash decisions that we later come to regret.
When have you experienced the result of someone who neglected to “check the facts” before passing on misinformation?
What safeguards can you put in place to ensure that you aren’t unknowingly an agent of misinformation?
What are some simple ways you can “consult the Lord” in your decisions?
Photo by Dave Lowe