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11 May 2020 – Joshua 9:14-15

The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath. – Joshua 9:14-15

The Gibeonites had undertaken a daring (and dishonest) scheme to trick Israel into making a treaty of peace with them, and as we see in today’s passage, the ruse worked.

Adolph Harstad writes:

A sharp comment from the authors says of Israel, “but the word of the LORD they did not inquire.” … They should have received direction through the high priest, who would ask God on behalf of Joshua and all Israel by means of the Urim and Thumin, the objects in the high priest’s breastplate. In Numbers 27:18-23 the LORD commanded Moses to station Joshua before Eleazar, the high priest, by asking the high priest, who would “inquire for him by the decision of the Urim before the LORD. Joshua and Israel may have acted logically and rationally based on the visible evidence, but they have shown a lack of spiritual wisdom or discernment. This is the second time a weakness of Joshua is brought out. His career otherwise is characterized by faithful obedience to the Word fo the LORD and by spirituality, which go together.

The author wants readers to know that decisions may be wise and rational by human standards but at the same time foolish and perilous because the word of the LORD is ignored. Even after the most careful deliberation, God’s people are to leave everything in His hands and say, “If the LORD wills, we shall live and shall do this or that” (James 4;15). Ultimately it is the will of God that determines whether a decision is wise or foolish. We seek His will while asking important decisions when we pray, then proceed humbly, examining whether our decision conflicts in any way with God’s word. Like all good things that God has created, the decision-making process too is “sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:5) …

Joshua, as leader of Israel, makes the treaty: he “made for them peace, and he cut for them a covenant to keep them alive.” It will be clear from Joshua 10 that these terms imply more than that Israel would refrain from aggression toward Gibeon. Joshua is guaranteeing the safety of the Gibeonites and obligating himself and Israel to provide military support for them if they are threatened. Joshua is not alone in the treaty-making process. “The leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them [the Gibeonites]” This would have been a solemn oath in the name of the LORD to ratify the pact. That sworn oath will be critical in the dilemma with which the nation soon must grapple.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 49
Q. 49. Which is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.