It feels unfair and often it is unfair. But it’s reality.
The truth is that we are susceptible to being tricked and deceived every day. Although we hope the world and the people around us are honest and concerned for our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our ministries, this is not always the case.
After the successful defeat of Ai, even Joshua was tricked.
They dressed themselves in such a way as to make it appear that they had traveled from a faraway land instead of from within the Israelite’s promise land. “They took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet…and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled…and said to Joshua, we have come from a far country” (vs. 4-6).
They asked Joshua to make a covenant with them. They would become the servants of Israel, if he promised not to destroy them or their people.
Joshua and the elders evaluated the situation. They even questioned the messengers about where they came from. But after they considered the worn out clothes and stale bread, they decided to believe the messengers and they agreed to the covenant.
Now, the Lord had commanded Joshua to destroy everyone currently inhabiting the promise land. And despite the appearance of the situation, the truth was that the messengers were from Gibeon, only about 15 miles away.
Therefore, the decision of the elders and of Joshua to enter into a covenant with the Gibeonites went against the command of the Lord.
Joshua had acted in good faith. He made a decision based on what he believed to be true. He did not intentionally disobey God’s command, but he fell victim to the deceit of the Gibeonites.
Nevertheless, Joshua and the elders were not completely innocent in their own deception. Verse 14 illuminates the reality of the situation for us, “So the men of Israel took some of their provisions and did not ask for the counsel of the Lord.”
Let me repeat it; they did not ask for the counsel of the Lord.
How often do we go about our daily lives and the daily administration of our ministries without seeking the counsel of the Lord?
Sure, it is easy to remember to seek God’s wisdom in big decisions, especially when we don’t feel confident in our own ability to make the decision: Where should I plant this church? How do I handle this issue with a troublesome elder?
But as we run our lives and ministries from day to day, and as we begin to experience successes, it can become very easy to trust in our own judgment and abilities.
Unfortunately, this is exactly the moment that we are most susceptible to deception.
So as you go about your week, as you make decisions big and small, stop to ask yourself “have I sought the counsel of the Lord in this matter?”