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LESSONS FROM JOSHUA, PART 11: The Gibeonite Disaster

by | Oct 18, 2014 | Deception, Lessons From Joshua (A Mini-Series)

As news of the fall of Jericho and Ai began to spread through Canaan, the people of the land, who had also heard of the fall of Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, became terrified. They didn’t have to consult with their tactical analysts or their political advisors to know that Israel was coming and no one was safe!

Many of the kings of Canaan reacted by banding together to make war: “Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things … they came together to make war against Joshua and Israel.” (Josh 9:1-2 NIV)

But not Gibeon. The Gibeonites took a look at Israel’s track record, and they recognized that the God of Israel was stronger than their gods. They knew they didn’t stand a chance. Their only hope lie in deception: “However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse … (Josh 9:3-4a)

Although Gibeon was only about 15 miles from Gilgal, these clever warriors managed to convince Joshua and all the elders of the people of Israel that they came from a faraway place over the Jordan, and Israel: ” … made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.” (Josh 9:15 NIV)

Now, Israel had just finished experiencing God’s power through them in the annihilation of Sihon and Og, in the drying up of the Jordan, the fall of Jericho, and the destruction of Ai. How did they fail to see through the Gibeonite scam?

The answer is clear: They “did not inquire of the Lord.” (Josh 9:14b NIV)

Okay, so they forgot to inquire of the Lord, and they made a treaty with a “faraway” people who actually lived about 15 miles from their camp. They shouldn’t have done it. But so what?

In making a treaty with Gibeon, Israel was in disobedience to the Lord. They couldn’t break the treaty that they shouldn’t have made. They were unable to follow God’s command to completely wipe out the people of Canaan, and the Bible records that it was the people who Israel failed to cast out of Canaan who eventually led them to their ultimate demise (see 2 Chron. 36:11-21).

But there were also short-term consequences. It wasn’t long before they were called to help their wrongly-formed allies (See Josh 10:6 NIV)

Friends, the Gibeonites were sneaky, but the Bible says our adversary is sneaky as well: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV). How, then, can we know when an opportunity is really from God?

Let’s say you’ve been praying for a job, and you are given a job offer. God has answered your prayers, right? And you immediately accept the job.

If this is your response, friends, then you are setting yourself up to the same trap the Israelites fell into. It may, indeed, be of God, but it could also be the prowling devil, trying to rope you into a position that will make you very unhappy or lead you into sin.

So what should we do?

We do what the Israelites failed to do: We inquire of the Lord! If it is truly of Him, He will tell us! Remember, circumstance can also be manipulated by the enemy, and circumstance must always be put to the test!

But the good news is this: When we make mistakes and repent of them, God is faithful and just! In our story today, He didn’t slap Israel’s hands and tell them to deal with it on their own. He went with Israel against the Amorite kings, totally wiping them out, and in the end, the people of Gibeon were forced to become laborers for Israel: “That day [Joshua] made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the community and for the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose.” (Josh 9:27 NIV)

Friends, let’s be careful to always inquire of the Lord so that we don’t make major mistakes. But when we do make them, let’s repent and turn back to the Lord, for when we do, He will make: “… everything beautiful in its time.” (Eccl 3:11 NIV)

Please join us next week for the next lesson we can learn from Joshua’s conquest of Canaan: LESSONS FROM JOSHUA, Part 12: The Day the Sun Stood Still.

In His love,


Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems,, with Answers2Prayer Ministries,

(To access the entire “Lessons From Joshua” mini-series, please click here.)


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