It's rarely you see a Spiritual leader so easily duped by deception, but if it can happen to Joshua . . . it can happen to any of us.
“Godly. . .But Gullible”
Never before I don’t believe in the time of our current world, is the need for discernment more prevalent than today. The believer is being ambush literally with thousands of that commercials I read once that the average person is attacked as it were by 2,000 commercials a day. And I think most of these commercials must assume that we are verily gullible. If you watched any football this weekend you probably saw one of those games interrupted by that commercial where the guy says, Oh, my nose is stopped up, I can’t breath, I can’t smell anything, so they come along and blindfold him and then they hold an orange slice underneath his nose and they say what is that? and of course he cannot tell, then they give him a pill and amazing 30 minutes or so or actually 5 seconds later he says Oh, that’s an orange. And it is like are we going to run by this or what. It seems they are playing on the gullibility of the American mind. The tragedy is it has crept into the church and the church today is being confronted as never before with gimmicks and fads and trends that we need to discernment to cover whether or not they are truly godly or just another thing passing in the night.
After that, the fact that companies today, corporations, major ones, people in our own church has told me that they have been subjected by a New Age seminar, they have been forced to attend, put on by their companies, taught by gurus and eastern mystics. The church has within its own rounds I believe Charlotteans, schemers, racketeers who will take from just about anybody time and money. If there ever was the need for discernment it is today. I think that is why in the next few verses as we tour through the book of Joshua are so relevant and so very important. If you have your bibles, and I hope you do, would you turn to Joshua and pick up where we left off with Chapter 9. We are going to cover just a few verses this morning. If you have your worship folder, there are study notes provided and might be a help to you as well. Let’s begin with verse 1. Now it came about when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country and in the lowland on all the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon; the Hittite and Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite heard of it. 2. They gathered themselves together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel. 3. When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4. They also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, 5. and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled. 6. They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal ( from Gibeon to Gilgal is about a 20 minute walk), and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far off country, now therefore make a covenant with us.” 7. And the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?” 8. But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants” Then Joshua said to them “Who are you and where do you come from?” 9. And they said to him “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the Lord your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt. 10. And all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was Ashtaroth (Notice they didn’t mention the parting of the Jordan, or the defeat of Jericho or Ai, they were crafted enough that if they mentioned that they would certainly been from a far off country with the news, so they left that part out.) 11. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us saying, “Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants, now then make a covenant with us.”
Now I am going to just simply uncover this easily observable text in the form of three messages that Joshua and the leadership made in preparing and signing the covenant with these people.
Mistake 1. These are mistakes by the way that we are being threatened to make on our front all the time. Joshua figured that the circumstantial evidence was in fact reality. That it was true. That it was real. Look at all the evidences as they are displayed in verse 12. This our bread was warm when we took it for our provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled or moldy. 13. And these wineskins which were filled with new wine, behold, look, they are torn; and these are our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long journey. And to Joshua and to the leaderships it all seemed to fit. But in affect, in reality it was a fraud. They took a look at the wineskins and the clothing and the sandals, yet it all makes sense. That is the problem. It was real to their senses.
Mistake 2. This is even more subtle. Joshua was fooled, I believe in addition to that, by the Gibeonites apparent knowledge of scripture. This is what we are confronting all the time in the day in which we live is the use of the verse of scripture. It is the principle supposedly biblical, and all someone has to do is to use a phrase or a verse and we are subject to whatever they are teaching. We never go and really see, does it all fit with the book?
Now why would I say that the Gibeonites had an understanding of the scripture. They made reference three times to coming from a far off country. On top of that, they mention two times their request to become the servants of Israel. Why did they spend so much time trying to prove that they weren’t 20 minutes away but they were 2 days away? I would suggest to you that it is because they knew the command given to Moses and to Joshua and on the coat tails of the miracles of the known world to them had heard and they also had heard if you lived far off you could live within the borders of Canaan you were dead.
Let me go to a passage, we will take time for you to turn there, but it is Deuteronomy 20: God is speaking here to Moses, and He says, This is what you will do to all the cities that are very far away from you. . when you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace; and it shall come about , if it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you then it shall be that all the people who are found in it shall become your servants and shall serve you, but in the cities that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance that is within this region, you shall not leave anyone alive, but you shall utterly destroy them, as the Lord your God has commanded you.
So why make such a case on their part to prove that they are from a far off country? Ladies and gentlemen, I would suggest to you that they had a thorough understanding of the command of God to Moses. Word traveled fast. If you lived far away perhaps you could become a servant, but you would still be allowed to live. But if you lived 20 minutes away, you might have to die.
Now I suggest here to be consistent with the other passages we studied in Joshua that death was not necessarily guaranteed. You remember a harlot who was saved. Why? Because she repented as she followed Yahweh, the God of Israel. I have every reason to believe and we can from scripture that if they had repented and if they had followed Yahweh that they would had been allowed to live. So what they are after really was a good thing. They wanted to live. Maybe even to unite with the Israelites nation. But the way they went about getting there was wrong. That is there is a right way to do a right thing. It is never right to do wrong even if it gives you a chance to do something right so said Bob Jones, Sr. years ago. Sounds familiar, are you having flash backs over here?
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And all the Israelites were deceived by the people who were trying to arrive a good thing in the wrong way. I want to now turn our attention to forced fears of deception before we back to this story that you face all the time.
Four arenas where you must be not gullible but perceptive in the way people handle the word. Because they will come and it will be so convincing that you might be caught off guard.
Arena 1. It is possible to be deceived as a believer by people who redefine the scripture. That is they take the boldface text but redefine it. And in so doing a be-iterater real value like Mr. Ted Turner who came up with the 10 commandments. The Ten Commandments, he wasn’t to comfortable with so he created his own. He called them the Ted Commandments, he redefined them into a comfortable palpable way.
Now I did something I never done before and will never do again. In fact it is a little humbling to admit it to you, but I was invited to a prayer rally. Now there isn’t anything in my blood breathes ecumenism. I cannot stand it. I thought that this is an invitation to join all of the clergymen in Cary for a time of prayer. I thought well why don’t I just give it one observation. Just one. I did. It is the last one I will ever give. Let me tell you what happened. I got to this place and there was an audience gathered and collected that we were going to pray to and we were all give different topics of prayer. I got there a few minutes before starting time, and all the men about 35 clergymen I guess we will call them, myself. We were gathered around and given some last minute instruction. And just before we were to go out onto that stage, one of the men said O, by the way before we go out, we do not want to offend anybody in the audience, should we pray in the name of Jesus? Man, I just felt it coming up, I stayed for I had been assigned a slot. The bible says there is one mediator between God and man and who might that be? Jesus Christ.
There is another arena, or sphere of deception, and it is those who outright reject scripture. Not even breaking time to redefine it to some religious, just rejecting it. Those people who are represented by some I have seen. I was watching public television and the Boston Pops were on and this is kind of a neat cultural event, I thought I would get a little culture at least by watching it in my living room. So I was watching it and I enjoy music as you well know. And it came to the end of it and they said that there was special treat to all of our audience and we are going to have an authopela group come and sing 23rd Psalm. And I thought, this is great, I turned the volume up and settled back and they got up to sing and before doing so they introduced the group and then said Look, what we are going to do, we are going to sing the 23rd Psalm in its traditional choral arrangement, but we are going to change the word He to She. So they sang the 23rd Psalm and they closed it by singing Glory be to the Father and daughter and to the Holy Spirit, Amen. And that crowd irrupted with a standing ovation. I hope that upsets you. You see rejection of this book, opens the door to incredible confusion. Take subjects like dying. I was reading sometime ago that the entire subject of Cryonics, take the decease and they will freeze them at a certain temperature, and I read where the doctors referred to them as their patients. Very expensive procedure.
The bible says that death spells the end to this body until the resurrection. It will take the supernatural power of God to unite life. You can freeze the decease, you can wrap them in birch bark like the American Indians put them high in trees. You can mummify them like those in Egypt. But it is the end to the physical body. Medical science will not be able to catch up to bring these patients back to life.
Another subject related to death is reincarnation. We are reading about this all of the time. Reincarnation is the belief, the soul progresses from one life form to another based on your karma. Karma is the list of good deeds or bad deeds. If you have good karma, you will come back to a higher life form. Maybe a step up in the social ladder until evidently you reach divinity. If you are bad, you come back as a lower life form, maybe a rat, or a horse, or something or Morton Downey Jr. No there was something I was going to say after that. He said that his karma is so bad that he would probably come back as a battery in somebody’s flashlight. That is the way he felt. Bur for your information according to Andrew Greeley of the University of Chicago. 29% of the Americans population believes in the possibility of reincarnation.
A 3rd form of the arena deception by the people who add to the teachings of the Scripture. Go to Elberton, Georgia, and you can take a look at the humongous monument with 10 guiding principles written on it for everyone to see in addition to the teachings of the scripture. Perhaps you have seen the advert mentor of the Book of Mormon laying on a table or actually the gospel, New Testament and on top you see magazines, laying the Book of Mormon and underneath in bold letters saying The Other Gospel.
Additions beliterate the value, because God said that this is sufficient to equip thoroughly the man of God for every good work. We need nothing else.
Another form of Divine Wisdom comes from the New Age Movement called channeling, where you have heard that one of the most popular ones is a gal by the name Jayzeknight who channels Ramtha this is supposedly a 35,000 year old warrior from Alantas who speaks through her and his words of wisdom let me give you at least one quote here, he says through her I expect you to do only what you feel is right. . .always trust the wisdom of your feelings. Compare that with Proverbs 28:26, He who trusts in himself is a fool. What an addition that is.
That leads me to the fourth, however, relation to experience, We are deceived by imposing our experiences, our feelings on top of this book. This book may say something if it doesn’t fit my experience I must re-write this or I must ignore this. So I am imposed upon it my feelings. I think that is probably Joshua’s problem. He was imposing his senses. It looked right, it tasted right, it smelled right, everything it its senses were correct, but in reality it was wrong. It was deceptive. We have all kinds of testimonial of experiences. One of the most interesting I came across in my researches by a guy named Gerald Jampolsky, who writes about the time this guy was a religious individual supposedly a repeat guest on Shuller’s Hour of Power, he tells about the time he met Swami Muktananda. Swami is an eastern guru. He writes this of his experience, let me quote him, The Swami touched me with feathers and I begin to have the impression that our minds were joined. He touched me again on the head with his hand, and after this, beautiful colors appeared all around me. It seemed as though I stepped out of my body and was looking down on it. I saw colors whose depth and brilliance were beyond anything I had ever imagines. A beautiful beam of light came into the room and I decided at moment to stop evaluating what was happening and be one with the experience. To join it completely. He says for the next three months, my energy level was so heightened that I required very little sleep.
Did Mr. Jampolsky have an experience? You better believe it! Did he see colors? You better believe it. I would not deny for a moment that this individual had that experience, but was it honoring to God or did he give creditability to a Swami from an eastern land. I think the rest is easy to determine.
You suggest to someone in your contemporary culture at work that yoga or meditation open to an occultic doorway and they will laugh in your face. You might have a guy who will say Wait a second, I started that stuff and my blood pressure is lower than it has ever been. Can you deny that? No you cannot. Then that must mean that it is right. Right? Wrong!
The word of God tells us that our meditation is never focused in worldly but onto the law. David says I love Thy law, it is my meditation all day long. But it is difficult to talk with someone who has had that experience.
The question is, ladies and gentlemen, what has the greatest authority, this book or how you and I feel? By the way, the church if there is ever a day you need to be aware is faced with pragmatic theology like never before. That is, if something works, it must be right. If something cause it attendance skyrocket, it’s right. If something makes everybody or at least the majority of the people feel good, then it is right. Just a secular society, but with the church, one evangelical church, I will not mention its name but I was embarrassed for it, very well known, their Sunday night attendance were down and they got together to try to figure out to boost them and they came up with a mega church the idea they would stage a wrestling match. They called in the Hulk Mania, kind of wrestlers. Okay? And they had them to come in and train the pastoral staff how to do it. They built a stage on their platform, and one Sunday night they staged a wrestling match with the pastoral staff men. Guess what happened to the attendance? Skyrocketed. Probably the best offering they had on a Sunday night in months. What happened to the creditability of the gospel? Plummeted.
Now we have been talking about everybody else. Let’s bring it home to where we live. Do you and I allow our experiences and feelings determine how we live? Or do allow this book to determine how we live? Let me throw some ideas at you. A few passages.
2 Corinthians 6:14 - one of the most often broken New Testament commands if we could call it that. Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. By a nickel I would be wealthy for every individual said on the list, but she is such a nice girl, by the way if I get her to come to the church with me. If I date her along enough maybe she will trust Jesus Christ.
I know that guy is not a believer, but he treats me better than any believer I dated it must be right.
I know that fellow is not a Christian, but if his business was teamed up with mine, if we join together, we would turn a prophet like you have ever seen. Maybe you would.
I Timothy 3 :7 states that a spiritual leader, an elder, in the church must have a good reputation with those outside the church.
Is it possible to have men who within the church who have great influence but outside the church walls are known for schemers in their secular world. That is so lonely. But the church must be forgiving. Has nothing to do with forgiveness, ladies and gentlemen, it has everything to do with qualification. That doesn’t feel to good.
David challenges the godly in that verse the Psalm, I will set no evil thing before my eyes. That translates any culture, any time period, it covers it all. Anything off color, anything evil I will not allow it to confront my eyes. My parents unfortunately found that verse when I was growing up and they wrote it on a piece of paper and they taped it onto the television. That is going to far isn’t it? Thank you very much, I thought it was. Yea, anything before our eyes.
Let me ask you a question, what do you watch on TV? Is it warm in here or is it just me? Maybe we better move on. The truth is, men and women, we in the evangelical church fudge our way around as much scripture as it takes to live the way we want to live. So the book does not thunder from the pulpits, it does not reside in the hearts of believers through out the week. Why? Because this is not longer the authority. Our lives and our experiences are. My father returned from a missionary conference where he was speaking. He told me of an interesting story of a missionary candidate, a young guy raising support to go to the field. And in an evangelical church, large church, he was on the stage just about ready to deliver his Sunday evening sermon, just before he got up there, the senior pastor sitting on the stage decided to lean over and said Look, don’t try to get up there and teach them anything, just get up there and talk. He was devastated. It happens more than you can imagine.
Two observations about deception, before we go any further.
1. It’s possible to be sincere, obviously, sincerely wrong.
2. It’s possible to be confident, yet confident in the wrong thing.
J. I. Packer writes in one of his booklets titled The Word of God these powerful words. Let me read them to you. Certainty about the great issues of faith and conduct is lacking all along the line; the outside world views the church, views the believers as staggering along from gimmick to gimmick, and from stunt to stunt, and not knowing at all where we are, or which way we should be going. Preaching is hazy, heads are muddled, hearts fret, doubts drain strength, unlike those Christians who pioneered the reformation, and the Puritan awakening and the great missionary movement of the last century. . .Packer says, We today, lack certainty. We lack certainty because you are carving this to pieces.
Now lets go back to chapter 9:14, So the men of Israel took some of the provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the Lord. 15. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregations swore an oath to them.
Mistake #3. Joshua failed to seek the counsel of God. It all fit. It all made sense. Undeniable physical evidence. Now why didn’t Joshua go to God? I ask myself that in my study and to figure out why and did not find anybody to address the issue.
Let me suggest to you why I think Joshua didn’t go to God. Wasn’t because he was shoddy at the job, he asked the right questions, he integrated these people, he observed their evidence, he did everything he was supposed to do. He was even wary of the scene. He says, O maybe you just want to covenant with us, maybe you live within our country. Do you know why I think Joshua did not go to God? Because Joshua did not think he needed to. This was small potatoes. This one is easy. This is simple. Moldy bread, worn out sandals, fits. How often in our lives we think that something so insignificant we do not need God’s perspective or wisdom or His counsel? We walk into it and find ourselves trapped by wrong decision.
On commentator writes, never never trust your own judgment in anything. It says that when common senses that a course is right, lift your heart to God. When voices tell you that action is urgent, that something must be done immediately, refer it directly to the tribunal of heaven. If you are called on to act and you have not time to pray, don’t act. Be brave enough to dare to stand and wait on God, because the scripture says that none who waits on God will ever be ashamed.
A businessman in our church whose walk with God so encourages me; told me a month or so ago that his company had pegged him for the next step up the rung of the ladder. They were going to send him off for training in a particular field, an executive position many people underneath him would be moving off the field. He had the audacity to tell his company to wait while he went to God. That’s rare. And he went to God, him and his wife for a couple of weeks in prayer. And God told them, God led them through the study of the word with peace in their hearts to turn it down. You’ve got to be kidding, they said. Doesn’t make common sense. But it was God’s choice.
The tragedy of this chapter, these first few verses we have taken time to look at. That the implementation is that Joshua had God’s counsel available. But they just didn’t go. He just didn’t ask. So the Gibonites, but it abruntantly ate his lunch and what’s worst the nation of Israel was taken for a free ride by people who despise the Yahweh initially.
The question is, men and women, is the church of Jesus Christ, are you being taken for a ride? Is the latest gimmick trend really honoring to God? Are you involved in things that are supposedly santumoniusly but are nothing but a dream on your relationship with God? Do you ever stop and say, God do you want me involved in this particular thing?
Oh, if there was ever a day when we need to envelope with our lives the sense of standing requests for God’s wisdom it is today.
To live in such a way that our lives are characterized by lives not lending on our own understanding. But in everything, acknowledging Him. Do you know what Acknowledging Him means? Requesting His advice. Honoring Him. Giving Him the right to choose.
The solution for gullible Christians is not greater shows of public piety, the solution is for personal private and prayer. And God says my counsel is available for everyone who will stop, who will await, and who will ask.