“They did not ask counsel of the Lord” Joshua 9:14
As we read the book of Joshua and come to this episode in his life and that of the other leaders we may think that they were a little slow in learning as they had the same problem not long before when they were going against the city of Ai. But before we cast the first stone we best take a careful look at ourselves. How often do we go ahead presuming on the grace of God and Christ’s presence based on our own knowledge, wisdom or previous experience?
Joshua and his leaders were taken in by a well planned deception. On the surface everything had the appearance of being genuine and straight forward. This is the kind of deception that works best. If things don’t appear genuine the deception doesn’t usually work.
If we reflect on our own lives we may be able to identify occasions when we have proceeded on the basis that everything looked genuine and have not sought counsel from the Lord with the result that we have been deceived. We may also discover occasions when we have made some attempt at asking counsel from the Lord but not taken the time to wait for a response.
The historical accounts of episodes in Joshua’s life are recorded so that we might learn both the ways of fallen man and the ways of God. God has not changed and neither has the nature of fallen mankind. The devil is called the deceiver for good reason. He has not changed either.
The notion that we only bother God with big, important or first time decisions makes us vulnerable to the devil’s deceptions. It allows us to live apart from intimacy with Jesus Christ. It allows us to live in pride thinking we have done some service for Christ when He wants us to serve with Him. We pat ourselves on the back but we have acted independently of Christ.
What looked straightforward to Joshua and the other leaders turned out to be a nightmare for the whole nation. Joshua and the other leaders rightly bore the brunt of the people’s complaining and accusation (v 18).
Israel later enjoyed success in overcoming the cities in the land “because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel” (10:42). The Lord fought for Israel not just because they knew the will of the Lord and were acting in obedience to that will; He fought for them because they went forward with the Lord leading and not for the Lord in His absence. Israel learned the hard way that going ahead of Him led to disaster.
Jesus reminded His disciples that they could succeed in nothing for the kingdom of God without Him being with them and at the head (John 15:4-8).