Joshua 9:16-26

Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the LORD, the God of Israel.

The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, but all the leaders answered, "We have given them our oath by the LORD, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them." They continued, "Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers for the entire community." So the leaders' promise to them was kept.

Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, "Why did you deceive us by saying, 'We live a long way from you,' while actually you live near us? You are now under a curse: You will never cease to serve as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God."

They answered Joshua, "Your servants were clearly told how the LORD your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you."

So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them.


Living with their decision was the consequence for the Israelites for not inquiring the LORD regarding the Gibeonites. Living as woodcutters and water carriers was the consequence for the Gibeonites for resorting to such a mean to save themselves. A couple of things we want to notice here.

Firstly, it struck me that that the Israelites had to begrudgingly live with the decision. They complained to the leaders but the leaders could not touch them due to the oath. Therefore, there exists an uneasy coexistence between the leaders and the Israelites. Not exactly uneasy, but does it sound familiar to all of us? Often, we look at the decisions made in our groups and church and often point the fingers towards the leaders. It reminds me that leaders are often the first people to get blamed for decisions and anything that happens in the church. Such is the risk for being a leader. Indeed, leaders, being representatives and shepherds of the church, had to bear such a risk. Indeed, they need to set a higher example to other people in the church, living above reproach, being able to handle their family, and showing clearly the fruits of the Spirit in their lives. But is it fair often to point the fingers at the leaders while other people sit down there and enjoy or suffer the consequences?

I irk sometimes at such an attitude. I get reminded of times that people tell me that leaders in church are not doing enough that people were leaving church. I retorted that which churches dun have backsliders? Such attitudes serve only one purpose: to divide the church. But let's question one issue here since we are at it. Why do people leave church? Why leaders got the blame for such cases? One common reason why people dun response to leaders' challenges and initiatives is that people are really selective in what they want to hear. This is human nature and we need to accept it. But as we see previously, God requires us to fully obey Him in all areas. Yet, people will leave the church because of things they dun want to hear. Look at this:

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"

After Jesus shared about Him being the Bread of Life, people began to fall away and get offended. This was the case with a lot of people in church today. We refuse to listen and we got offended when we are asked to step out of our comfort zone. Indeed, the leaders may be doing so in an insensitive manner, but it takes two hands to clap. How about the listeners? Are they ready to humble their hearts to listen? I get frustrated at such instances when the leaders or shepherds did all they can but sheep refused to listen or obey and eventually accuse the shepherds of being pushy, not understanding etc. It's more than that, and we need to do some introspection in ourselves. I will talk more about this in the future.

But coming back to the Gibeonites, the decision made was one that the Israelites had to make do. Yet one thing we need to take note and should learn here is that it seems that there needed to be some form of resolution here between the people and the leaders. They grumble, and people had to make sense of what happened. At this point, let's reiterate that in the beginning, they should have done some godly decision making. But it reminds me here again that God is gracious and He will provide a way out.

It comes to my second point here. The Gibeonites agreed to work as woodcutters and water carriers. This seems to me the way out for the Israelites regarding the wrong decision making. What does it mean for us? I think God will eventually provide a way out for us in any wrong decision we make. Remember, He is in control and He allowed these decisions to be made. Here, I would like to point out how God made the maximum use of wrong decisions in the bible. Look at first few verses of Matthew:

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.


A brief look at Jesus' genealogy, I can see two wrong decisions made that God had used for His Son's lineage. Judah made a wrong decision to sleep with a street prostitute who happened to be his daughter-in-law, Tamar, in disguise. David made a wrong decision by deciding to take Bathsheda as his own wife therefore committing the crime that shook his career as a king. Solomon can be said to be an indirect consequence of such mistake. If we examine even more closely, the exile to Babylon was a direct consequence of Israel's sin to God over a few generations of kings. Yet, just by simply looking at this genealogy, we can see God's hand and control. I think we need to take note that God's grace is precisely what He has given to us in times when we make the wrong decision. Because of His grace, we can be sure that things that happen have something there as God's purpose in refining us. By knowing this, we ought not to complain too much on what happens in our lives. A lot of times, we see people in universities complaining about their courses and modules. Some complain about the foreign students. But the Christians, while doing the same, forget to factor God into the picture, or simply can't due to their own perception of God which is incongruent with the Bible. I think that's why Paul told us to give thanks in all circumstances and to pray continually.

So let's pray continually. At this point, I think we want to pray for reconciliation in the church between people. Let's pray that people will get their misunderstanding resolved, especially those between leaders and followers.

Comments

  1. Hey Uncle, I'm really enjoying reading wat you write. And you know, what's written here makes so much sense. But in a way, I shouldn't be surprised, because it's God's Word that makes you wiser...

    Bro, thanks for being an example to me and many others in studying the Word. I can see clearly that the LORD is adding insight into what you're writing. Keep on sharing... may the Lord grant you a richer, wiser and deeper love that is increased every day in every way through the Word! :D

    So... keep on writing... (and thank God you're in the days of using blogs and not chiselling stone tablets. Haha...)

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