When our post-modern (whatever that means) cultural philosophy asserts that humankind is morally evolving, I like to review statements like this…
“But when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves.”
…which could easily be a sound byte from CNN or FoxNews, whichever slant on reality you prefer.
The context of this fascinating OT story is that the reputation of people of Israel as a strong and conquering nation of some strong and conquering God was moving relentlessly through the land, unstoppable. Their fight or flight options were not pleasant, so these Gibeonites decided to think outside the box…
“They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins. They put on worn-out, patched sandals and ragged clothes. And the bread they took with them was dry and moldy.”
Arriving at the Israeli campsite, the guys put on a pretty good act, saying that they were from far, far away, humbling themselves to the God whom they had heard was humbling all the other nations before His own people. As “evidence”, they showed Joshua their worn out clothing and stale provisions, which Joshua accepted (without checking in with God, BTW, which is a lesson in itself…leaning on your own wisdom and all that. I put my own hand up on that one.)
Once the treaty had been made, however, Joshua and his crew finds out the truth—these people were on the “wipe-off-the-map” list (which also gave them time to escape, if they chose to do that). Now, to honor God’s name, there was no going back, and they were not only safe, but they became servants, and allies of God’s people. AND, the Gibeonite men were known to be mighty warriors to boot.
All that to shed a little light on what Jesus declares a few years later:
“And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.”
That is not to say that God’s people are allowed to be deceptive or manipulative, but neither are we to be deceived or manipulated. Especially now that we have the indwelling power of the His Holy Spirit, that presence on Whom we are to consistently learn to lean and rely. Otherwise, it will be more than difficult to recognize an enemy disguised in rags.
(Or a wolf in sheep’s clothing.)
Joshua 9:3-5; Luke 16:8 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.