The good thing about bad guys that come in like a roaring lion, is that you know where they stand. They don’t hide who they are. They want to take you out, and they let you know it, beyond the shadow of a doubt.
That’s who we looked at last week. (Tricked and Triggered, Joshua 9:1-2).
Today we expose a worse kind of bad guy—the kind that looks good; the kind that uses deception, as a weapon.
When Jesus taught about the end times, he began by telling us to take heed that we be not deceived. Matthew 24:4.
So, we’re going to do just that, as we continue our Joshua saga, we’ll reveal five ways to defeat deception.
PRAY FOR DISCERNMENT
All the –ites heard, what God had done, and sprang into action, (Joshua 9:1-2).
Now, Gibeon heard, and they too, took action.
The world may pretend to ignore, but they too, have heard.
The Gibeonites are among those listed in Deuteronomy 7:1-2. Israel was to make no treaty with them, have no mercy on them, utterly destroy them; because their iniquity was full, as noted in Genesis 15:16.
Gibeon heard what the Lord had done, and they…
Turned to Him and repented—
No, sorry, that’s not it.
They humbly acknowledged that the Lord is God in heaven above and earth beneath, like Rahab did, in Joshua 2:11.
Nope, they didn’t do that either.
They “worked craftily…”
Yes, unfortunately, that’s what they did.
Reminds us of ssssssomeone elssssse. In the Garden, the sssserpent, was more crafty than any beast of the field that the LORD God had made. Genesis 3:1.
Our first step to defeating deception is to proactively, preemptively, pray, for discernment. In a word: Preprayer.
Lord Jesus, we ask for discernment, to see beyond the deception, to The Truth, that sets us free. John 8:32.
Gibeon heard, and hid. They knew their doom, felt their guilt. So, they dove for cover behind a mask, pretending to be something they’re not. They disguised themselves as ambassadors of goodwill (like the sssserpent). 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.
EXAMINE THE FRUIT
Take a snapshot of them, standing there, dressed like homeless people, pretending to be ambassadors. Oldy and moldy—that’s the first thing the Israelites saw.
Hang on to that picture, we’ll need it in a minute.
But before we move on, it’s important to note another step in defeating deception. Examine the fruit. A detective might say, “Just the facts, ma’am.”
To defeat deception, we must separate fact from fiction and flattery, created by words.
Today's fruit, is resultant of yesterday's seed. Jesus tells us we can’t get good fruit from a bad tree, and vice versa. Matthew 7:18.
Inspecting fruit, is wisdom, not judgement, and goes a long way toward avoiding deception.
Now that we have a picture of the Gibeonites fruit, let’s hear what they have to say.
CONSIDER YOUR CALLING
Now we hear their explanation, and request.
The explanation is meant to open the door to the request. We’re not from around here, we’re not those folks you’re supposed to utterly destroy, so, let’s make a covenant.
That’s an outright lie; their home is only about twenty miles away.
Imagine a hobo shows up at your door and says, “Howdy, I wanna be yer financial adviser.” Or, at the door of Elon Musk, and says, “Hey man, let’s be business partners.” Or, oldy and moldy shows up from out of nowhere, gives you a toothless grin and says, “Hi there, honey, let’s get married.”
Just on the fruit alone, the proposal is preposterous.
However, what if it wasn’t? What if they really were from a far country and wanted to legitimately make a covenant with Israel?
That brings us to the next step in defeating deception: Consider Your Calling.
Even if everything they said were true. Israel’s God given calling, was to possess the Promise Land. Does becoming an ally, with a random country from far away, fit into that calling?
If that far away country gets attacked, is it within God’s calling for Israel to leave the Promise Land, and go fight in some far away land?
Today many are far from their calling, fighting wars they were never meant to, simply because they failed to consider their calling.
It’s nice to say, “Yes” when someone asks; but it isn’t always Godly.
To stay in His will, and defeat deception, we must always consider our calling before entering any covenant or agreement, no matter how nice, or good, or profitable, it looks.
Right there in five short words, “Perhaps you dwell among us” the men of Israel expose the whole masquerade. Busted!
As Christians, when we are sensitive to the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit, we experience His peace. Philippians 4:6-7. On the other hand when we confront something contrary to His leading, we sense an uneasiness, a lack of peace. We may hear ourselves say, “I don’t have a peace about this.” Or, “Something doesn’t feel right.” Or, “I have a check in my spirit.”
This too, is the leading of the Spirit. Letting us know, this isn’t the way, don’t walk in it.
The first words out of the men of Israel’s mouth were right on target. That first instinct was correct. We ought to pay attention to it.
Which brings us to a powerful step in defeating deception: Follow Peace.
But on paper it looks like such a good deal.
Doesn’t matter. Follow peace.
But (s)he’s so nice. so cute.
Looks are deceiving. Follow peace.
Yeah, but I can make a fortune.
Money sprouts wings. Follow peace.
Follow peace. follow peace. follow peace.
Now the enemy will lay it on thick and use every trick in the book.
They never answered the men who exposed them, but diverted to Joshua, with flattery. Oh dearest Josh, you’re our hero, the man in charge, we are your humble servants.
Joshua entertained them a little longer by continuing the conversation.
Like Eve did with the serpent.
They still avoid answering the question, but simply add emphasis to the first lie, “From a very far country.” And of course, slather on some more buttery flattery.
Now, they name drop. Not just any name, but the Name above all names. They play the God card.
Dear Christians, we must pray for discernment, examine the fruit, consider our calling, follow peace, before, handing the keys to our house, our car, our heart, to someone, simply because they use the name of God.
Just because some celebrity say, “God bless you” to a sneeze, or, “Thank God” to an award, doesn’t mean they are Christians.
Jesus tells us that not everyone who says, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 7:21.
Did you notice the omission of what triggered their action in the first place? They fail to mention Jericho and Ai. (Remember, our opening verse: Joshua 9:3-4a).
This sin of omission, was perhaps, because they thought it would give them away to mention cities overrun, this side of the Jordan.
But actually, it was just one more clue, that should’ve exposed their ruse.
If you know sales, you may recognize this, “everybody’s doing it” sales pitch. Everybody in our entire country is talking about you, want to hook up with you.
If you know your Bible, you may recognize this as the same old, ongoing, sin pitch, used by the devil. The lust of the flesh, the lust eyes, and the pride of life. 1 John 2:16.
Oh, and of course, for the third time, they plop another dollop of flattery, (“We are your servants”).
And then, like all good salesmen, they go in again, for the close.
Just sign right here on the dotted line, and you will drive away in your brand-new, bright, and shiny, covenant with your neighbors, oops, I mean, um, with a country, a far, far, away, country, full of grateful, adoring fans…your servants.
Sales folks recognize this as, The Puppy Dog Close. Let them hold it, handle it, drive it, touch it, taste it, feel it.
If Shakespeare were here, he’d say, “Thou doth protest too much, methinks.”
If they really were ambassadors that left a long time ago, from a land, far, far, away, they wouldn’t be bragging about, oldy and moldy, but would rather be trying to hide their lack of preparation for the journey. If they were really from that far away, there would be no desire from either party to reach a covenant. It’s not like today, where the world is connected through modern technology and travel.
The whole ruse was smothered in sizzle, but had no fruit, no meat, no merit, yet, Joshua and crew, were duped because, they failed to preprayer for discernment, examine the fruit, consider their calling, follow peace and last but certainly not least, they:
Now, for our last step, in defeating deception: Ask Directions.
I wonder if the Lord finds this as funny as I do; because asking directions, is usually the last thing we do.
Putting together Christmas presents. Read directions? Only as a last resort.
Trying to find that place. Ask directions? No way, I’ve got this.
There’s a Jewish proverb that says: Better ask ten times than go astray once.
Jesus tells us to ask, and receive. Matthew 7:7-8.
God knows and sees everything. We know and see in part. 1 Corinthians 13:12.
Our life, in this body, is but a vapor. James 4:14. We do not have time to wander; especially now, in this present age of deception. Ask.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Romans 13:11-14.