Inductive Bible Study on Joshua 9
- The Gibeonites make a covenant with the people of Israel (1-16)
- Joshua and the leaders realize their mistake (17-27)
How did the people of the land react when they heard about Joshua’s victory at Ai?
What did the people of Gibeon do?
What can we learn about people from the Gibeonites?
How did Joshua and the leaders respond?
How should they have responded?
Whose fault was this mistake?
Can you give any biblical examples of people who asked the Lord before making important decisions? How about any examples of people who did not ask the Lord before making important decisions?
What can we learn from this passage?
How can you know when to believe people and when not to?
Should we doubt other people’s word or just believe what they say?
What should we do before making decisions?
How can we be careful not to rely too much on our own intelligence?
What form does asking counsel from the Lord take today?
On Making Decisions:
Genesis 24:14-15 – Abraham’s servant asks the Lord for help in choosing a wife for Isaac.
Genesis 12:10-20 – Abraham and Sarai go to Egypt without asking counsel from the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:7 – Walk by faith, not by sight.
James 1:5 – If anyone lacks wisdom, ask God.
Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the ends its way is death.
Proverbs 16:1-3, 9, 16, 20 – Verses on wisdom and following the Lord’s plans for us.
Psalm 25:4 – Make me to know your ways O Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:12 – Let the one who thinks he stands be careful lest he falls.
Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.
Proverbs 11:15 – In the abundance of counselors there is victory.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
- Review of last week’s passage/spiritual high followed by a spiritual low – In chapter 6 the people had a great victory over Jericho. God did a miracle and gave them a victory in spectacular fashion. The people faithfully obeyed what God told them to do, and did so with faith that God would grant the victory even though they didn’t see how. This spiritual high was followed by a spiritual low in chapter 7. The victory was followed by defeat. Whereas in chapter 6 they defeated an enemy that was tactically much stronger, in chapter 7 they were defeated against an enemy that was much weaker. It was because of the sin of Achan and also the lack of counseling the Lord by the leaders. We have seen that they repented and dealt with the sin. When their relationship with the Lord was restored, God once again gave them victory. After they victory they trekked 30 miles to Mt. Ebal to build an altar and perform a religious ceremony. All the people listened to the whole law of Moses and verbally expressed the blessings of obeying God and the curse of disobedience. The people were once again victorious, excited, and feeling close the Lord. That brings us to this chapter and we see that the people once again become presumptuous, failing to look to the Lord and instead relying on their own insight. The result is another defeat. We can see 1 Corinthians 10:12 for a key lesson we should take to heart from this chapter. Application: There will be times of victory in your lives. There will be times when everything seems to be going well. Perhaps you have just gone through a difficult trial or obstacle. Perhaps you just made an important commitment to the Lord. Perhaps you just returned from a spiritual retreat where you felt close to the Lord. It is at these times that Satan will likely step up his attacks against you. If you become prideful, complacent, or self-reliant, you will fall. We should never think we are immune to any sin. There is no sin that you are immune to if you try to face the temptation on your own strength.
- There were two forms of attack against the people of Israel. One was obvious and visible. One was sneaky and subtle. – In verses 1-2 we see the visible attack against God’s people. The people of the land unite together to fight. But in the following verses which see a much sneakier form of attack. That attack would be based on deception. It is not hard to see Satan’s strategy. His plan is that while the Israelites focus on the visible threat the invisible threat flies under their radar and ensnares them when they weren’t looking. While the short-term threat was posed to them by the enemies who were preparing to do them battle, the long-term threat was that the Gibeonites would slowly turn them away from the Lord from within their midst after making a covenant with them. Application: Some temptations we face are very visible, but others are not so visible. Some are from outside the church or the fellowship. Others are within. Can anyone share examples? We need to follow the command in Ephesians 6 to put on the full spiritual armor so that we can be ready to stand against either kind.
- It is common for enemies to unite together against the banner of the Lord – The people of the land were not naturally friends or even allies. Civil war, mistrust, and self-interest would have ruled the land. But they united together with “one accord” to fight against the Israelites and the banner of the Lord. It should not be surprising to us when the world unites together against believers or the church. We know that we don’t fight against physical forces, but against spiritual forces of wickedness. Satan is their master. And as such he will stir them up to unite against God’s work. Our hope is to align ourselves with the Lord because greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world.
- The Gibeonites are very crafty – Their ruse was very clever. They showed themselves to be clever in a worldly dishonest sort of way. It is easy to understand why they acted as they did. Naturally they were scared for their lives and saw this as the way out. However, it wasn’t the only way they could have avoided destruction. Instead they could have left the land and fled to a far away place. Or they could have genuinely turned to the Lord. Instead they used deception for the same reasons most people deceive, and that is to avoid pain and gain benefits. The Israelites seemed to exercise due caution. Joshua questioned them carefully. And they looked at their clothes and food to see if they really had been on a long journey. But in so doing, they saw only what the Gibeonites wanted them to see. Even though they tried to exercise caution, they put their own wit against the wit of the Gibeonites. If you do this, sometimes you will win, but sometimes you will lose. You may be smarter than some people, but there are some people who are also smarter than you. Application: There are lots of clever people in the world, people who can be very persuasive. We should be careful not to be easily swayed by others. And we should be careful not to rely on ourselves.
- The Gibeonites play on their emotions by praise and/or flattery – We see this in verse 9. The Gibeonites express their knowledge of what had happened and indicate their fear of the people and YHWH. However, unlike Rahab, they do not express a willingness to align themselves with God no matter what personal risk to themselves. Their confession does not seem to indicate genuine belief and/or repentance. Therefore it is likely that they were exercising flattery to “butter them up” so that the Israelite leaders would be more likely to make a covenant with them. The Gibeonites were making an appeal that sounded like, “You are strong and noble and powerful. We know no one can stand before you. We are weak and a lowly people. Please take us under your wing.” Application: Be careful not to be susceptible to flattery.
- Be careful not to trust in past spiritual experiences or victories – Past victories can tend to make us overly confident. We saw it with the people of Ai in chapter 8. They believed they would cruise to an easy victory. We saw it with the Israelites in chapter 7. They believed they would cruise to an easy victory. But victory in the past is not a guarantee of victory in the future. Making a good decision in the past doesn’t guarantee making a good decision in the future. In the past few chapters the Israelites plans and strategies had mostly been very effective. But they forget that these decisions and strategies were effective because they came from God. They presume that they know what they are doing.
- Do not repeat the same mistakes again and again – What should the Israelites have done before making a covenant with the Gibeonites? Why did not they first consult the Lord? In chapter 7 we saw the grave consequences of not consulting the Lord before launching an assault against Ai and here we see again the people take action without consulting the Lord. The Israelites acted rashly and presumptuously by believing in them. The Israelites did not make proper use of the two offensive weapons we have, which is the Word of God and prayer. The Word was clear that they should not make a covenant with people in the land. They actually did know this. But they did not pray to God for wisdom. Read cross-references. Application: Discuss what we can learn from the Israelites’ failure. Discuss how we can avoid similar presumptions. Besides praying to the Lord, where else we can seek heavenly wisdom?
How did the congregation respond when they heard about the mistake?
Was the congregation’s response right or wrong? Why?
Was the leaders’ decision in verse 19 right or wrong? Why?
What principle can we learn from this?
On Making Promises:
Matthew 5:33-37 – Do not swear falsely. Let your “yes” be “yes.”
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 – Do not be rash with your mouth.
Numbers 23:19 – God is not man that He should lie.
Psalms 15:2-5 – The person who swears to his own hurt and doesn’t changed will not be moved.
2 Samuel 21 – Saul breaks the covenant with the Gibeonites.
- They kept their promise. – The Israelite leaders made a foolish deal. It was a mistake. They did so without asking God what they should do. The people began to complain. It seems that they wanted the leaders to go back on their promise and destroy the Gibeonites. But the leaders were unwilling to do so. What do you think of their decision to honor the agreement? The leaders were men of integrity. They had given their word and they planned to keep it. Going back on their word would have been to compound their first sin by adding more sins. Saul later did this very thing as we learn in 2 Samuel 21. Application: From this passage we can see the importance of keeping our word. Sometimes we may give our word to do something and then later regret it. Perhaps you tell a friend that you will help him with a project, but then another friend invites you to do something fun (like playing ball). What do you do? Do you bail on the first friend because there is something more fun to do? Perhaps you agree to serve at church at a specific time. Then you have a long week and catch a cold. You would prefer to rest at home. What do you do? Perhaps you make a verbal deal to rent a house. Before you can sign a contract another house at a much cheaper rate opens up. What do you do? Perhaps you agree to sell a product at a certain price. Later you find out it will cost much more time and money to make the product. The price you offered means you will lose money on the deal. What do you do?
- The had to live with the consequences of their sin for generations. – There was no “easy fix” to this problem. It could not be undone. Generations of Israelites would face the consequences of this sin. Many sins are like this. If you marry the wrong person, you will still wake up to them the next day and the next day after that. At that point you can’t get out of it (without sinning even more.) If you allow your flesh to take over and commit fornication or adultery, the consequences will plague you the rest of your life. A momentary lapse while driving a car could have disastrous consequences. An angry outburst to a spouse or a child could have long term consequences. What is the solution? Application: We need to rely on the Lord and His grace each moment. We must not be presumptuous. We must be hasty to make decisions or give our word. We should pray and think carefully before making a promise, a commitment, a decision or a deal. Once you make it, keep it.
- Joshua makes them become workers at the tabernacle, perhaps hoping to influence them to become believers in the true God (instead of the other way around.)