I am currently studying the book of Joshua (one of my favs!) and today I finished working through chapters 9 and 10. If you read my blog much, you know that the story in chapter 9 is one of my favorites because it is such a great warning to remember. But as I paired that chapter that I am so familiar with to the one after it, I realized what and incredible story of forgiveness and redemption they are together. If you haven’t read them recently, I highly recommend it, but here is a little recap.
Joshua and the Israelites were commanded by the Lord to take the land that was set before them. Taking the land pretty much meant wiping out all of the other people in it and taking their cities. Not super fun for the people already in the land. Earlier chapters in Joshua describe the battle of Ai and how successful, with the help of the Lord, the Israelites had been in defeating that city. As you can imagine, news of that battle spread throughout the land and the people were afraid.
The Gibeonites were getting pretty close to next on the list, so they started making a plan. Their plan was actually pretty genius. They put on old, dirty clothes, gathered up some moldy bread, found some old, cracked wineskins, and set out towards the Israelites. When they got to them they told the Israelites that they were from a distant land and that they had travelled a great distance to see them (afterall, look at all of the old nasty stuff they brought with them!). Joshua listened to what they said, surveyed their old nasty supplies, and decided they must be from a distant land. So they made a peace treaty with them.
This is a problem because they weren’t from a distant land, they were from next door, and the Israelites had been commanded to take their land. In fact, there is a great verse, Joshua 9:14, that says “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.” Woops. They looked at what could be seen, decided that their reasoning was enough to make the decision, and they totally messed up the plan.
But, a treaty is a treaty, so they had to stick with it.
So moving into chapter 10 we find the Gibeonites getting attacked by all of the other people in the land because of their stupid treaty that never should have happened, and Israel now has to go help these people that they were actually supposed to destroy. I can just imagine what was going through Joshua’s head as he and his armies were heading back to Gibeon. He had to be thinking that it was going to be a disaster. If he had only inquired of the Lord…if only…if only…if only….
And God could have said to Joshua, “You know, you got yourself into this mess.” But instead He says, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” (vs 10:8) No mention of the previous blunder. No mention of I told you so. Just, don’t be afraid, I’ve got this.
And not only did Joshua and the Israelites go in and defeat these guys, but as soon as the other armies started fleeing down the road, God knocked them out with hail. The Bible says that more of them died from hail than from the sword!
The Bible also says that in order to properly defeat these guys, Joshua ordered the sun to stand still…and it actually did! It stayed in place about a full day. Joshua 10:14 says “There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel.”
So yeah, Joshua totally messed up by making that treaty. And yeah, he ended up having to back track and fight an intense battle because of it, but his failure wasn’t final. He was still usable. In fact, God even thought he was worthy enough to listen to.
What failure are you hiding under today? I can guarantee you it’s not final.