The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Battle Belongs to the LORD

“And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.’” - Joshua 10:8

It would be a mistake to think that when entering the Promised Land of fullness of the Spirit that the war is over. In fact, when we enter the Promised Land of blessing the battles have just begun. Why is that? For one thing, our spiritual sense are heightened so we are more aware of the presence of the enemy and engage him in battles more readily whereas before we might glance over him. And secondly, the enemy is always going to try to bring down those who have totally surrendered themselves to the LORD. The enemy is not going to relinquish ground without a fight. Alan Redpath expresses this well when he states:

“Strange paradox as it may seem to some, nevertheless it is eternally true that the land of full blessing is a land of intensive warfare. We have to learn to conquer and then we have to learn to possess all that is ours in the Risen Lord.” [1]

While it’s important to understand that when we enter into the fullness of blessing with the Lord we should expect battles, it is just as important to learn that the reality and truth that ushers us on to victory is that: The battle belongs to the LORD. God is able to give us victory in spite of ourselves. He is able to raise us up to victory even when we are following Him in less than perfect ways. In fact, God loves us so much that He will, if necessary, make the sun stand still to accomplish His will in and through us. That should be encouraging to us.

In Joshua chapter 10 five kings form an alliance because of the fear they have due to the prospect of facing God’s army (10:1-5). But they are also concerned that other groups will follow the way of the Gibeonites and join God’s people. This is not God’s plan. But from their limited perspective this was a real concern.

Notice these pagan kings, “feared greatly” the Israelites (10:2). It is God’s plan to instill a certain fear in unbelievers concerning His people. Again Alan Redpath conveys this point well when he writes:

I believe with all my heart that God’s purpose for His Church today is the same – to make it a Church to be feared. Speaking of the church for a moment in terms of a building, it should be a place to which people almost fear to com lest they be converted. A church as a fellowship should be composed of people who are uncompromising in heir testimony, courageous in their faith, and holy in their lives. In the church services there should be the awe and reverence demanded by the presence of God.

This is God’s purpose not only for His Church, but also for every truly regenerate man or woman of God – that they shall be feared. The Christian man is he who is righteous in his conduct, uncompromising in his principles, passionate in his devotion to his Savior, sacrificial in his service, and transparent in his life. He has no life behind the scenes to which he retreats to indulge his appetite for things that he would be ashamed to do in the company of Christian people. His life will bear the closest scrutiny of his strongest critics, from which he will come out unscathed, a holy man of God continually. . . .

How can we achieve this? . . . In light of His Word, it is God’s plan that His people should always be on the offensive, never on the defensive. Too often we retreat, run away, hide from the devil, instead of launching a full scale offensive in the name of Jesus.[2]

And that is what we see Joshua and Israel do in this chapter; they go on the offensive and do a thorough job of dealing with their enemies.

The Gibeonites call for help when they are threatened by the five king confederacy (10:6). Here we see the beginning of the complications that result from unholy disobedient alliances with unbelievers. There are always complications and troubles when we are prayerless and disregard the teaching of God’s word (cf. Joshua 9:14). But God is able to work even when we mess up life with our wrong decisions. It states, “So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” 9 Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. 10 So the Lord routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah” (10:7-10). The battle belongs to the LORD! God works all things together for good (Rom. 8:28). He can bring beauty from ashes (Is. 61:3). And here He brings victory.

O How God is like a Heavenly Father caring for His children. He pulls out all stops to assist us. He will literally move heaven and earth to protect us and bring us victory. “And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword. 12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13     So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. 15 Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.” (10:11-15). O how He loves you and me! How much does the LORD love us; to what extent will He go to bring us victory? He will stop the sun in the sky for us if need be. Think about that; it’s pretty incredible. Obviously if you don’t believe in God or miracles you will take issue with this. But if God is “God” then He can do miracles. Stopping the sun in the sky is no big deal for Him. And if God can do this to bring victory, what can’t He do (other than act in an unholy way) to bring you victory?

When you gain victory over the enemy, he runs for cover. He will hide out until things calm down and then his plan is to come out and fight again. That is what we see these five kings doing. They run for cover and hide in a cave (10:16). But when Joshua finds out about it, he has large stones rolled into place to trap the kings in the cave (10:17-18). He isolates his enemy so he can completely destroy them. That’s a practical step for us in our sanctification. Identify and isolate the problem then open the mouth of the cave and deal with whatever kings of sin have threatened the territory of your heart (10:19-21).

If you want God’s peace and you want to be agents that emit awe at His presence in your life, then you have to be willing to completely annihilate enemy intruders of sin in your life. “No one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel. 22 Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave.” 23 And they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.” (10:21-23). Bring out the kings of sin and acknowledge the reality of who they are. Don’t hide them. Don’t ignore them. Deal with them!

It can be pretty intimidating to come face to face with kings of sins; those who want to rule you and rob you of God’s promises and fullness of blessing. Don’t be afraid! In faith take action and do what you need to do to eliminate and do away with those kings. “So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. 25 Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” (10:24-25). Chop off their heads! Deal with the things that challenge God’s rule in your life in a way that they won’t be able to come back to life.

The typology we find here is instructive. Joshua orders the kings be hung on trees. This pictures hanging our sin on the cross of Christ. Our “old man” the sinful nature and all its faces needs to be hung out to dry on the cross of Christ (Romans 6;  Gal. 2:20;  Colossians 3). “Put to death” the old man members (Colossians 3:5f.). And do a thorough job. That is what Joshua does: “26 And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. 27 So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day. 28 On that day Joshua took Makkedah, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them—all the people who were in it. He let none remain. He also did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.” (10:26-28). God’s victory is total; complete; thorough. In fact, “There will be no victory in the name of Christ until you declare total war against everything in your life that is sinful.” [3]

The rest of Joshua 10 recounts a number of other enemy areas that were defeated. There will be more battles. But just as the LORD delivered and brought victory previously, we can count on Him bringing victory in the present and on into the future (cf. 10:29-42). The LORD is the One who delivered this victory (10:29, 32, 42). Joshua merely had to obey, “as the LORD God of Israel had commanded” (10:40). Notice God’s attention to detail. God cares about the details. He has our hairs numbered (cf. Mat. 10:30-31).

The sanctifying process must be thorough. The old sinful nature cannot be trifled with. It is incapable of holiness. We must turn to the Spirit and seek His holy work in and through us. And that turn must be one of total commitment and abandonment to the Holy Spirit to do His holy work. Only then can we secure victory and the fullness of God’s blessing. The battle belongs to the LORD! Fight on!


[1] Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living, (Calvary Chapel Pub. Santa Ana, CA 2007)  pg. 134
[2] Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living (Calvary Chapel Pub. Santa Ana, CA 2007)  pgs. 135-136
[3] Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living (Calvary Chapel Pub. Santa Ana, CA 2007)  pg. 138

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

“Peace and Safety!”

For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them . . .

– 1 Thessalonians 5:3a


A time will come when wars may die down and natural disaster subsides. The world will think, At last, “peace and safety!” But Paul warns us not to be taken off guard or lulled to sleep by this time. Read what he states: “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3-7).

 Destruction will come suddenly. It will be like labor pains coming on a pregnant woman. First a slight twinge. Then a little bit sharper pain. Then a knee buckling dagger; then labor is on.

The world lives in darkness. The world is asleep spiritually. They avoid change and accountability by ignoring or rationalizing away any absolute truth. They commit idolatry by creating “God” as they would like Him to be; One who condones their sinful practices. They are drunk with subjective relativism where anyone and everyone can do anything and everything they feel like doing just as long as it doesn’t “hurt” others. It is a repeat of the book of Judges in many ways. People do what is right as they see it (Judges 21:25).

The world lives a philosophy of so-called “tolerance.” The only problem is the world is not tolerant of those who disagree with what they tolerate. The tolerance police can be pretty harsh and unforgiving to those who hold to absolute truth or the thought that God is real and does indeed know what is best for His creation. That’s too intolerant for them. They would rather hide in the dark and use the darkness to cover sordid sin and self-indulgence. The world lives in a fog of denial and fantasy. They are disregarding the traffic signs not understanding that eventually ignoring the signs lead to a fatal crash.

The world or unbelievers (5:3 - i.e. “they”) speak of “peace and safety.” “Peace and safety” here points to a sense in the world that all is well, a belief that the God who has been rejected will not judge them or bring consequence of their sin upon them. They have mistaken the patience and longsuffering of God for His complacency. They have misread His patience as condoning their sin. Some even doubt His inexistence. God’s patience is meant to lead the sinner to repent not to indulge further in sin (cf. Rom. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:1-9).

Those who speak of such peace and safety will find out very quickly that such peace and safety is false and will fade fast. It is exactly when people in the world speak of peace and safety that “sudden destruction” comes upon them from which they will not escape (5:3).  The word “sudden” means unaware, unexpected. “Destruction” refers to ruin, death, punishment, or destruction. The point Paul makes is that believers should not be surprised by future End Time developments (5:4). Believers need to be sober and awake, not asleep (5:5-7; see Matthew 25:1-13).

Because they live in darkness unbelievers  misinterpret God’s patience and see it as either God not caring about sin or even condoning it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2).  God is of purer eyes than to look on wickedness (Habakkuk 1:13). And there is not a just person on the earth who does not sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20). God is light; there is no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5). God created humanity upright, but humanity has “sought out many schemes” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). The darkness of sin unsaved humanity live in is authored by the devil (2 Cor. 4:4). Living in darkness is as dangerous as being thrown into a dark room with a ravenous lion (1 Peter 5:8-9). In darkness you will either be deceived or devoured; most likely both. And because this darkness leads one to deny their culpability of sin, it will also lead to damnation (1 John 1:8, 10). Come to His light and be saved!

The world lives in a darkness composed of proud personal opinion, self-reliance, and spiritual fantasy. Instead of receiving the light of God’s revelation in His word they willfully choose to disregard it and all its proofs. They choose to live in the darkness of their own making. The consequence is that they will fall prey to the disarming cries of “peace and safety” that will prove deadly both literally and spiritually. Unbelievers very well might see a peace brokered by a charismatic diplomat and put their confidence in him. And that may very well be a fatal decision. Antichrist will be a very influential politician who is able to appear to work out a Middle East peace plan. Let me share one possible scenario.

Ezekiel 38-39 speaks of an End Times attack on Israel by a confederacy of Islamic nations led by Russia. This confederate force will come down against Israel hunting for natural resources and ultimately be destroyed by the LORD. This will evidently put a severe dent in Islamic world influence. A charismatic world leader like Antichrist could then steal the credit (from God) for thwarting this Islamic force. With Islam weakened, this world leader might seize an opportunity to broker a world peace. How?

Revelation 11:1-2 speaks of a rebuilt Tribulation Temple whose design leaves the outer court to the Gentiles. If Antichrist could get Islamic and Israeli officials to accept two religious structures side by side as a symbol of such “peace and safety,” it would be a pretty incredible achievement. Daniel 9:24-27 refers to Antichrist confirming an existing covenant of 7 years with God’s people Israel. Antichrist will require all people to take his mark in order to buy and sell in a world economy (Rev. 13). To get that mark you will have to worship him. And in taking the mark you will be forever lost and separate from God.

Antichrist will gain world rule economically. He will also create a one world religion. He will do this no doubt under the deceived idea that world conflict is religiously based. By eliminating religions, or forming a one world religion, the world can have peace. Antichrist will promote a master false prophet to help him in this effort. This religious system will ultimately be based on worship of “the Beast” or Antichrist himself (2 Thess. 2). And ultimately this is the plan backed by the devil who creates his own evil incarnation in Antichrist. Satan will seek the world’s worship through Antichrist. And this will lead to the spiritual death of many.

Deception, destruction, and damnation, all of this may be part of a season of “peace and safety” that leads to an inescapable “sudden destruction.” That’s a very brief scenario. But it’s possible because unbelievers are so much in darkness that they might be deceived into falling prey to the lies of a Satan-backed Antichrist.

 “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this day should overtake you as a thief.” Those who live in darkness will be robbed of eternal life in Christ. They will suffer the greatest of thefts by the enemy. Those that know Jesus as Savior however aren’t in the dark about this. We have been warned of the dangers impending. We have been rousted awake in the dark night of this world. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Come to Jesus the Light of the world. Confess your sins and be forgiven (1 John 1:9). You don’t have to live in the dark anymore.



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Peril of Prayerlessness

Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord. - Joshua 9:14

In preparation for entering and living victoriously in the Promised Land God had instructed the people to make no alliances with the people of Canaan :

  • Exodus 23:32-33 - 32 You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.” (cf. also Num. 33:50-56; Deut. 7:1-5).

God was very clear about not making alliances with the people of Canaan. The Canaanite people were to be displaced and removed from the Land, not allied with. God had waited over 400 years for the people of Canaan to repent of their sinful ways (compare Gen. 15:16). And great were their immoral sinful ways. The depraved nature of these people is described in Ronald K. Harrison’s Old Testament Introduction where he notes:

The depraved nature of the pagan deities Anat and Astarte is evident in all phases of the poetic cycles from Ugarit. Both these mythical personages were styled “the great goddesses which conceive but do not bear,” and the seduction of Anat by Baal was a popular element of contemporary mythology. In one text Anat was depicted as a butcher, slaying young and old alike in a frantic effort of destruction. Asherah, the “creatress of the Gods,” was commonly represented to be a nude prostitute called “Holiness,” as was also the case in Egyptian cult-worship.”63 There was a recognized homosexual guild (Cinaedus) in the Canaanite temples, and ritual prostitution of both sexes was a commonplace occurrence.[1]

Another resource indicates the nature of pagan worship in Canaan by stating:

The pagan high place was usually located on a physical height, where one could feel closer to the god. Its first essential was an altar, which might be a heap of earth, unhewn stones, or a unit cut out of the solid rock. Second, there was a stone pillar (Dt 12:3) or obelisk (matsebah) representing the male deity and having phallic associations; third, a tree or pole (asherah) representing the female deity (a fertility goddess); and fourth, a laver for ceremonial washings. A sanctuary with an image of the deity also required a building of some sort to protect it (2 Kgs 17:29).

At these pagan high places sacrifices of animals and sometimes of human beings took place, and religious prostitution or homosexual acts were common. It is natural that such practices should develop in a context of sympathetic magic, where promiscuity and breeding among human beings was supposed to influence animals and crops.[2]


In Halley’s Bible Handbook[3] it adds the following:

“In excavating at Gezer . . . ruins of a ‘High Place’ which had been a temple in which they worshipped their god Baal and their goddess Ashtoreth (or Astarte) . . . . an enclosure 150 by 120 feet, surrounded by a wall, open to the sky, where the inhabitants held their religious festivals [was found]. Within the walls were 10 rude stone pillars, 5 to 11 feet high, before which the sacrifices were offered.

Under the debris, in this “high Place” were found great numbers of jars containing the remains of children who had been sacrificed to Baal. The whole area proved to be a cemetery for the new-born babes.

Another horrible practice was what they called ‘foundation sacrifices.’ When a house was to be built a child would be sacrificed and its body built into the wall to bring good luck to the rest of the family. Many of these were found in Gezer. They have been found at Megiddo, Jericho and other places . . . . Prophets of Baal and Ashteroth were official murderers of little children.”

When we look at the prohibitions and warnings given by God in the Pentateuch it needs to be understood that God was preparing His people for the atrocities they would find in Canaan. For instance God’s prohibitions against sacrificing to demons (Lev. 17:7), drinking blood, divination or soothsaying (Lev. 17:10-12; 19:26), incest, homosexuality, bestiality, and child sacrifice (Lev. 18), etc., were all made in light of what Israel would find during the conquest of the Promised Land. The Land of Canaan was filled with a sinful perverted people and it would have to be purified before it would become truly Promised.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne. Mercy and truth go before God (Psalm 89:14). God had mercifully waited for more than 4 centuries for the people of Canaan to repent of their perversions and turn to Him. Now that they have failed to do so, they would be judged for their sin. And God’s instrument of judgment would be His people.

Psalm 9 states:

Psalm 9:8

8     He shall judge the world in righteousness,

     And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.


Psalm 9:16-20

16     The Lord is known by the judgment He executes;

     The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.

Meditation.       Selah

17     The wicked shall be turned into hell,

     And all the nations that forget God.

18     For the needy shall not always be forgotten;

     The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.

19     Arise, O Lord,

     Do not let man prevail;

     Let the nations be judged in Your sight.

20     Put them in fear, O Lord,

     That the nations may know themselves to be but men.      Selah


God was now going to administer justice. He was going to purify the Land. This involved removing the sinful pagans of the Land and establishing a holy nation Israel. And this is why God prohibited making alliances with the people of Canaan. He knew that if the pagan people of Canaan were allowed to coexist with Israel that Israel would be tempted and brought under their influence. God’s instructions are always made in light of His foreknowledge and love. He knows what is best and what needs to be done.

There’s a lesson to be learned for nations in the words of Psalm 9. Hell awaits nations that forget God. And the nations need to know that they are “but men.” When we look at our nation and see its practice of distancing itself from God, the proliferation of immoral conduct and worldly unscriptural world views, we can only hope and pray for repentance and revival. God has been merciful. But a time will come where He will assert His justice as well.

For instance, in April of 2013 the FCC announced intentions to drop its ban on the F-word and nudity. [4] We are moving further away from God. We see it in our elections, our lifestyles, our everyday interactions. We are becoming more and more pagan. The world and our nation are trending away from God. The world and our nation seem to be making every effort to influence people in the same direction away from God. Therefore the Christian needs to guard against the sinful influences of this world. That has always been the case (cf. 1 John 2:15-17). The world is a minefield of potential spiritual pitfalls. We have to stay close to God in order to guard against sin and being sucked into the undertow of the world’s sinful tide.  But how, how do we stay close to God so as to avoid enemy influences? How can we escape the perils in the world?

In order to know His will and plan His people must live in a spirit of constant prayerful contact with God in Christ. As they proceed and make decisions they need to connect with God in prayer in order to know His will and truth and follow His plan. It is perilous to be prayerless. And in Joshua 9 we will observe The Peril of Prayerlessness.

Joshua 9

   And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon— the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite—heard about it, 2 that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord.

You can count on those who reject God, His word and His people to unite to oppose God and his people as they sense the threat of holiness. Someone has said, “Every victory that the Christian wins in his own personal life is an invitation for a full scale attack by the enemy of his soul . . . . Our blessings and battles go side by side.” [5]

3 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors.

The word “craftily” (עָרְמָה ˓ormâh, or-maw’) means trickery, wililey, craftiness, treachery, or with shrewdness. The phrase “pretended to be ambassadors” (tsâyar, tsaw-yar’) means they prepared to present themselves as something they were not. Their strategy was to deceive.

Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). Those he employs will appear as angels of light in order to deceive (cf. 2 Cor. 11:13-15). Allan Redpath gives great insight into the strategy of Satan when he writes:

Now let me remind you that the secret of winning a war lies in strategy.  . . . Now, the trouble with so many of us Christians is that we fail to apply divine strategy to daily living. . . Very seldom does the Christian apply himself to daily disciplined action or to planned war against the enemy. The result is that many of us are completely outmaneuvered by Satan, who, if I may say so, is a master strategist. Remember, Satan is not only a roaring lion, he is also a subtle snake, and the roar of the lion is far less dangerous than the hiss of the snake. . . .

Satan is not going to like this – it will expose all his subtle ways. All that is absolutely typical of the devil! He knows full well that a Christian, a really committed Christian, is not going to be trapped by an open frontal attack. . . . So what does Satan do? He speaks to us concerning possible alliances that appear to be very trifling compared to our devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. . . . He challenges us on the necessity for entire, thorough consecration. He speaks to us about the danger of ‘overdoing it.’ He warns us of the danger of becoming ‘too narrow.’ He will say, ‘Be careful that you don’t get swept off your feet.’ He will claim at least a portion of our time and our money and our energy in order that, now and then at least, we can be lazy, and indulgent, or compromise. He will do everything that he can in order that, somehow or other he may deceive us and cause us to lose the fine edge of our Christian witness. He is out to steal our affection, to lower our standard of Christian life, to cause us to compromise once in a while. Are you aware of his tactics? . . . . Is he seeking to suggest to you that there is at least some part of your life over which the sovereignty of Christ is unnecessary? . . . .

Because he has come to you in that disguise, he may easily have tripped you up. He has suggested to you, of course, that it is common sense which is needed in the business of the Church. He has said to you that you must be very practical in the conduct of your affairs, especially regarding money. He has said to you that faith is irrational, that common sense is the thing which must always be practiced. [6]

And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, 5 old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. 6 And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”

With their dress of deception they approached Joshua at Gilgal. (Remember, Gilgal was the place of throwing off the world.). And then they outright lied to Joshua saying they were from a distant land when they were really geographically neighbors to Joshua. They sought to enter into covenant with Joshua. What would he do?

7 Then the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you dwell among us; so how can we make a covenant with you?” 8 But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?”

God checked them in their spirit to help them discern the deception. There was suspicion by Joshua and his men against these visitors. That suspicion or reservation was very likely from the Spirit (cf. 1 John 2:27). Discernment is a gift of the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 12:10). God was trying to get through to Joshua and His people. But they didn’t heed this impulse from the Lord. They did not discern the deception.

9 So they said to him: “From a very far country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt, 10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan—to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth. 11 Therefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say to them, “We are your servants; now therefore, make a covenant with us.” ’ 12 This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy. 13 And these wineskins which we filled were new, and see, they are torn; and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey.”

The deception was detailed. They presented Joshua with evidence in support of their deception: dry and moldy bread, torn wineskins, worn garments and sandals. The devil is often in the details. Enemy deception can appear very credible.

14 Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord.


The peril of prayerlessness. Rather than seek the Lord’s confirmation or will Joshua and Israel simply accepted the word of these Gibeonite deceivers. BIG mistake! Allan Redpath comments:


But let me point out to you, also, the stupidity of the children of God. . . . ‘They asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.’ It seems to take us a long time to learn the lesson that neglect of prayer always leads to trouble, and destroys the spirit of discernment. . . . What is the answer? How can we ever match Satan and his subtle ways? Listen to me. Never, never, NEVER trust your own judgment in anything. When common sense says that a course is right, lift your heart to God, for the path of faith and the path of blessing may be in a direction completely opposite to that which you call common sense. When voices tell you that action is urgent, that something must be done immediately, refer everything to the tribunal of heaven. Then if you are still in doubt, dare to stand still. If you are called on to act and you have not time to pray, don’t act. If you are called on to move in a certain direction and cannot wait until you have peace with God about it, don’t move. Be strong enough and brave enough to dare to stand and wait on God, for none of them that wait on Him shall ever be ashamed. That is the only way to outmatch the devil. [7]



That great missionary and prayer warrior John Bunyan once said, “Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, a scourge for Satan.” Without prayer we are vulnerable to enemy deception and attacks. E.M Bounds said the prayerless church was headed for defeat:


“Defeat awaits a non-praying church. Success is sure to follow a church given to much prayer. The supernatural element in the church, without which it must fail, comes only through prayer . . . . As often as God manifested His power in Scriptural times in working wonders through prayer, He has not left Himself without witness in modern times. Prayer brings the Holy Spirit upon men today in answer to importunate, continued prayer just as it did before Pentecost. The wonders of prayer have not ceased.” [8]


In the New Testament the apostle Paul goes into greater detail about how to guard against the wiles or deception of the devil when it states:

  • Ephesians 6:10-18- 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—


God gives us spiritual armor to guard against the tricks or wiles of the devil. And we would be wise to put on the armor God supplies each and every day. The Holy Spirit helps us to discern truth from falsehood, deception and the wiles of the devil. He does this through spiritual armor as well as through spiritual gifting such as the spiritual gift of discernment (e.g. 1 Cor. 12:10).

What happens when we fail to pray, or fail to put on our spiritual armor, or fail to seek the Lord? It leads to being duped and deceived when that need not happen. Sons of God are supposed to be led by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:14). If you’re led by the Spirit you won’t be duped or deceived; the Spirit will protect you.

Because Joshua and the people did not seek the Lord in prayer, they were deceived. NOTE: There is no chance of avoiding deception without prayerfully seeking the Lord. Because they did not seek the Lord, they definitely would be deceived. Instead of seeking the Lord, they relied on their own observation skills.

15 So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.

As we saw in the introduction God clearly instructed not to make covenants with any of the people in Canaan. Now you might think Joshua was not at fault due to the deception used by the Gibeonites to secure a covenant with him. But because of his prayerlessness, HE IS CULPABLE FOR HAVING DISREGARDED GOD’S DIRECT COMMAND. Whenever we disregard God’s word, for whatever reason, no matter how credible and justified we think it to be, we set ourselves up for disappointment, trouble, peril and pain.

What happened here? Joshua and Israel fell prey to deception. They were drawn into an improper and entangling alliance that would be a ball and chain around their spiritual necks for a long time to come.

16 And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them. 17 Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim. 18 But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers.

The price of prayerlessness. Because they didn’t seek the Lord in prayer they were deceived. And the consequence of the covenant they had made resulted in thorns in their flesh from this point on. In Joshua 10 we will see the web of entanglement in conflict that presents itself because of the covenant with the Gibeonites. The price of prayerlessness is entanglement in the things of the world. It is a drag to be deterred with entanglements with the things of the world.

It’s sad to see how Joshua and Israel were deceived. Why were they deceived? What was at the root of their being duped? What causes us to be duped? Looking at Joshua and Israel we see:

First, they were moldy and spiritually dry like the bread of the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites were showing them moldy bread and the Israelites accepted it. They weren’t nourished on the bread of God’s word. Therefore, they were spiritually malnourished and not up to strength spiritually to see the moldy offering of the Gibeonites.

Second, they were spiritually hole-y like the torn wineskins of the Gibeonites. They let their guard down. They drifted from the Lord, not a lot, but just enough to be swayed by deception. This is what happens when we aren’t drinking the water of the word to refresh us. The Gibeonites were showing them dried out wineskins and the Israelites accepted it.

Third, their spiritual armor was tattered and hole-y like the Gibeonites tattered clothes. Because they hadn’t put on their spiritual armor, they were inattentive to the seriousness of sin. Even though God had clearly and repeatedly instructed and warned them not to make a covenant with the Canaanites, they allowed themselves to slip into an inattentive spiritual state that was conducive to be deceived.

Bible teacher Jon Courson applies the spiritually perilous condition in the following way:

Three days after signing the treaty, the men of Israel discovered that the men of Gibeon lived only a stone’s throw away. Why was Israel deceived? For the same reason we are.


“Don’t be so uptight about this sin or that compromise. Don’t worry about who we are,” the hellish ambassadors whisper in our ears. “We’ll give you space. We’re no threat to you. We want to be friends. Don’t worry about being grouchy. Don’t worry about losing your temper. Don’t worry about seeing that movie. Just be at peace.” And whenever I fail to partake of the wine of the blood of Christ and the bread of His broken body, I am deceived by the empty wineskin and the moldy bread of the world.


When I don’t go to the Lord’s Table—when the wineskin is empty and the bread moldy—I lose sight of the reality of what sin does. But when I come and eat of the fresh bread of the broken body and the shed blood of my Savior, I realize once again that sin slaughters and destroys, that there’s no such thing as a small one, a friendly one, an allowable one.


Concerning the sin we think is no big deal, Jesus says, “Eat of My body and drink of My blood. This is what that sin did to Me.” . . . . When I come to the Lord’s Table, I see through the deception and treachery of the enemy. Unlike the wine of the world, the wine of the Lord’s blood has a sobering effect.[9]


It is at the cross, at the Lord’s Table that we remember the consequence and costliness of sin. It is at the cross and at the Lords Table that our wineskins are kept new and fresh with God’s deeper truth and where we are nourished with the spiritually fulfilling bread of God’s word.

But if we stray from the cross and neglect the Lord’s Table, if we miss meals in His nourishing word, then we definitely will be deceived; we will fail to see how serious sin is and will let our guard down and suffer the consequences.

19 Then all the rulers said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel; now therefore, we may not touch them. 20 This we will do to them: We will let them live, lest wrath be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them.” 21 And the rulers said to them, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers for all the congregation, as the rulers had promised them.”

Bound by a higher standard. A pagan people probably would have simply have killed the Gibeonites. But God’s people live by a higher standard. Even though the covenant that was made was based on a deception, they were honor bound to keep it. Because of their prayerlessness the honor that was a blessing was made a curse.

Even if you have entered into an improper alliance, you are honor bound to follow through on it. The Christian is (or should be) a person of integrity and principle. Yes, we are not to be bound together or unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14), but once a covenant commitment has been made (as long as it does not cause you to commit a crime or sin) you are honor bound to keep it. If a person in a homosexual marriage gets saved, they are not honor bound to keep that “marriage” because to do so would be to perpetuate a sinful lifestyle. But the Christian who finds themself married to an unbeliever is not to initiate a divorce or dissolution of that marriage covenant (1 Cor. 7:12, 16). God can bring good from even this by using the Gibeonite in your life to drive you to the Lord in prayer. [10]

22 Then Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell near us? 23 Now therefore, you are cursed, and none of you shall be freed from being slaves—woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.” 24 So they answered Joshua and said, “Because your servants were clearly told that the Lord your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. 25 And now, here we are, in your hands; do with us as it seems good and right to do to us.” 26 So he did to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, so that they did not kill them. 27 And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, in the place which He would choose, even to this day.

The motive in the Gibeonites for using deception was fear. As pawns of the enemy, fear was their motivation. While we are to fear and reverence God in a healthy way, His perfect love casts out fear (cf. 1 John 4:17-19). God draws us and relates to us in His perfect love. The gospel is one of love; His love for us (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8); and His love poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5; 2 Cor. 5:14ff.). When fear is the primary motivation, the enemy is likely involved.

Fear along with guilt are the motivating factors in religious systems.  God wants us to relate to Him in love not fear and guilt. He came to remove our condemnation (Rom. 8:1). He came that we might relate to Him as a warm, caring and loving Heavenly Father who has adopted us and made us co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:14-17). That’s an incredible blessing of God’s grace.

Joshua’s and Israel’s careless prayerlessness would have an ongoing detrimental consequence throughout their history. Whenever we disregard God’s clear teaching, no matter what, we will always end up in trouble.

Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following comments on Joshua 9:

Oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.  You know, there are some things that just look so good that there’s no need to pray about them: it’s obvious what is right - you can just ‘look for yourself:’ and,  “See, the bread is moldy, and it’s dry.”   “--No doubt these guys have come on a long journey: look at those old torn, mended wineskins.  Poor fellows!  I wonder how far they have been journeying.”  And you look at the evidence, and you think, “Well, I don’t need to pray about this.  It’s quite obvious here: I can see; I have eyes.  And I can smell the old moldy bread.  I don’t need to ask God about this.  You know, it’s very obvious.”  And it’s unfortunate that we oftentimes become involved in alliances without, first of all, praying about it, and seeking the mind of God. 


And these alliances, so often, turn out to be just as was this alliance with the Gibeonites, a detriment to us for the rest of our lives.  In the New Testament we are warned not to be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever:  God warns us against ungodly alliances.  You can hinder your walk, you can cripple yourself by an ungodly alliance; plus bring a lot of pain, and sorrow, and suffering. 


I wish that sometimes we could just record some of the counseling sessions: I wouldn’t think of it, but sometimes I wish that they could be recorded so that when a young girl comes in starry eyed, and is in love with this young man, and “she knows that their love is so great, --as soon as [they’re] married, he will surely accept the Lord, and she is going to live happily ever after.”  I wish you could hear the testimony of some of the young girls who were starry eyed at one time that married these fellows that weren’t saved, and hear - now: the misery, and the pain, and the suffering that they are experiencing as their husbands have not the same set of moral values, as their husbands do not hold the marriage bond sacred, as their husbands are out drinking and chasing other women.  And they were sure that their love was great enough that it would bring a conversion; and they became involved in an unequal yoke with an unbeliever, much to their own chagrin, and sorrow, and pain, and suffering. 


If you don’t hear anything else tonight, hear this: God’s Word is true.  And the warnings of God are faithful.  And when God warns you about these kind of alliances with unbelievers, you better listen to the Word of God.  [Emphasis added.]


--And I don’t care what the evidence may show contrary wise: “Oh, he’s so sweet; he’s so kind; he’s so generous; he’s so attentive; he’s so loving; he’s so this, he’s so that.”  And you take a look at the victuals, the provisions, and you don’t inquire of the LORD:  you really don’t seek the godly counsel. 


And, oh, how many, many have been destroyed by going against the clear teaching of the Word of God.  This ungodly alliance was formed because they did not pray.  Had they prayed, and sought the wisdom of God, surely, God would have shown them.  [11]


It’s always perilous to be prayerless. It’s always folly to foolishly disregard God’s word.

[1] Harrison, R. K. (1969). Introduction to the Old Testament (119). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
[2] Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). Tyndale Bible dictionary. Tyndale reference library (604). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
[3] Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook, (Grand Rapids Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1965) p. 166, 198
[5] Allan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living, (Costa Mesa, CA: Calvary Chappel Publishing, 2007) Originally published in 1955 by Fleming H. Revel. P. 123
[6] Allan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living, (Costa Mesa, CA: Calvary Chappel Publishing, 2007) Originally published in 1955 by Fleming H. Revel. P. 123, 125, 126
[7] Allan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living, (Costa Mesa, CA: Calvary Chappel Publishing, 2007) Originally published in 1955 by Fleming H. Revel. P. 126, 128
[8] E.M. Bounds, Possibilities of Prayer (Grand Rapids: Mich.: Baker Book House) pages 136,137.
[9]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary: Volume One: Genesis-Job. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2005, S. 667
[10] Cf. Allan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living, (Costa Mesa, CA: Calvary Chappel Publishing, 2007) Originally published in 1955 by Fleming H. Revel. P. 129-130
[11] Pastor Chuck Smith, Word for Today audio tape #7066 on Joshua 9-10.