Joshua Lesson 6 - Character!
The Gibeonites have tricked Joshua into making a promise he regrets. How will he respond? Will he keep his word in spite of their con? Integrity doesn't always bring a reward . . . but it is always a reward in itself.
And the 100 people and they sent them a letter and enclosed in that letter was a one dollar bill explaining that as a result of adjusting an error these people had made they were owed $1. Twenty seven people returned the dollar bill saying Liberty had made the mistake and not them. They conducted the same survey in 1971 and this time 13 people returned the $1 bill. Now those statistics remain constant and they were to do it in 1991. Ninety five people would pocket the buck and say How dumb can Liberty be? I will just keep it.
Probably when you were growing up you heard a lot about this thing called character. Everybody was supposed to have it but everybody didn’t. Those who didn’t were referred to as Characters. Webster defines character this way, It is morally uprightness, a freedom from corruption, honesty. Basically as Ted Engstrom defines a sister word it is doing exactly what you said you would do. That’s character.
A businessman in our church told me just this past week, a few days ago, a matter of fact, that a client of his placed a very large order. It was a surprise and it was an emergency situation and they needed the supplies by the next afternoon. Now this was an order twice as large as any order this client had ever requested. But this businessman told me that he knew that he could not get it for at least 2 or maybe 3 days. Now had he signed the contract, he said he knew they would have to wait then and he would get the job, but he was within the breathe of telling them to call his competitor and maybe they had it on hand. And he did that, that is called character. It was not promising something that you cannot produce. It is fulfilling everything that you said you would do.
Maybe something small like taking you turn in the carpool and you recognize now that you had never signed on. May mean keeping an appointment with a person you don’t particularly like, or making those phone calls in the afternoon when you are already boned tired. Or maybe something very significant. Maybe fulfilling the promise to your child to take them fishing when you said you would. It may mean fulfilling that ministry responsibility after you signed on after you realized how difficult it is to accomplish it. Maybe showing up when you said you would show up. Maybe it is remaining married to that person that you married. When they turned out differently than what you thought they would.
That is exactly the kind of pickle that Joshua found himself in. If you are new to us we are studying the book of Joshua and I invite your attention to chapter 9. He has just been fooled by an Oscar winning performance by the Gibeonites. They have come on with their old clothes and their worn out wineskins, they got to prove to Joshua that they live in a far off country. God told Moses those who live in a far off country would be allowed to live in a servitude type of role. And so they had to prove to Joshua that they did not live 20 minutes away, which they did, but they lived in a far off distance. So they appear in their worn out clothes and said, Joshua, our sandals are worn out and our wineskins are old and they are patched and our clothing is worn out and we are from a far off country. And Joshua bought the lies as we studied in our last session because he did not go to God first.
Now look at verse 15, lets review just that, Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant, that is, a promise with them and let them live. And the leaders of the congregations sworn an oath to them. Now the text tells us that in 3 days they will discover these Gibeonites lived 20 minutes away. They thought they lived in a far off country. I can imagine after that peace treaty was signed that all the Gibeonites went around the corner on their way home and they are laughing and swatting each other on the backs saying, Oh, what a dumb leader that Joshua is, how gullible those Israelites are. Now what is Joshua going to do when he discovers that his promise was made to people who lived 20 minutes away. See, that is the point.
I know what the congregation of Israel wanted to do. Look at verse 18, the sons of Israel did not strike them. Well that tells us that they wanted to. Because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. You have Joshua now in the middle. The Israelites hated him and the Gibonites had made a fool out of him. skip to verse 26, but thus he did to them and deliver them from the hands of the sons of Israel andthey did not kill them and in other words Joshua kept his promise. He responded with unusual character to this situation knowing that if he did something wrong on top of the wrong that he had already done, it would never create a riot as you have well been told, 2 wrongs do not make a right. But because Joshua responds with honesty and with character.
What I want to show you this morning this passage is that by responding with character, Joshua creates in a sense the circumstances where by God will response revealing with his character through Joshua’s life. He will do it in a very unusual way.
I am going to give you 2 ways if you are following those notes provided in the worship folder. This is number 1. God will use this alliance to bring swift and unexpected victory.
Chapter 10:1, now it came about when Adon-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai and had utterly destroyed it, just as he had done to Jericho and its king, verse 2, he feared greatly because Gibeon was a great city like one of the royal cities. Because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. 3. Therefore, Adon-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, Japthia king of Lachish and Debir king of Eglon. 4. Come up to me and help me and let us attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and the sons of Israel. In other words, this is a traitor of act. This Gibeon is a strong and valuable city and traitors somehow create the kind of circumstances where others will surrender and it is contagious. If a mighty city will fall and surrender and wave the white flag, we better stamp them out unless some smaller city stages and catch on and the land literally lay down their arms to the Israelites. So they tend to go and wipe them out and to destroy who used to be their friends.
Verse 5, so the 5 kings of the Amorites- the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon gathered together and went up and they with all their armies and camped by Gibeon and fought against it. Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua to the camp of Gilgal saying, Do not abandon your servants. Now here are the people who just fooled Joshua. Do not abandon us, come up quickly and save us, and help us for all the kins of Amorites that live in the hill country have assembled against us. Now stop here, you are Joshua. Boy, this is blessing. This is an answer to prayer that you never prayed. Why not just sit back and let the Cannanites wipe out the Cannanites. Why this promise was made you know the Lord will understand. And look all of the 5 kings coming against him, it must be God at work. Thank you. You move in mysterious ways.
But Joshua kept a promise that he made that he responded with something that you and I might had rationalized ourselves out of. And the whole congregation of Israel would had padded Joshua on the back and he would had once again been their hero. But what does he do? He mounts up and verse 9 tells us that Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal. That is Joshua responded with character because Joshua was willing to keep his promise and now God brings about victory over 5 kings. But he does it in an unusual way.
Look at verse 10. And the Lord confounded them before Israel, and he defeated them with a great victory at Gibeon, pursued them by the way of Beth Horn and strucked them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it came about as they fled before Israel as they were on the ascend to Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord threw large stones from heaven on them as Azekah and they died. And there were more who died from the hail stones than those sons of Israel killed with a sword. This might be a little strong for many people. The thought that I think the church is abandoned the idea that God is a warrior who fights for his people, we have the idea that we are doing all the fighting. And it is all up to us. We must be strong. Well my friend, God is powerful and he is allowing his character to be revealed from a man or through a man in His nation who responded in character. And he fights. And there is God, the historical writer, who suggests as He were He is up in heaven throwing stones at the enemies of His people. Isn’t the Jesus I know. The Jesus the people know in this world are the people who have a perception of Him of being this pathetic weak figure who smells like hand lotion or something. He is a warrior. And He is up in heaven throwing stones. Because His people responded with character and now He will fight for them. Very interesting picture. He is going to respond in a like fashion.
Now there are times in our life when people respond with character and we observe it and we admire it and God I think wants to teach us on how to respond in like fashion.
Many of you raised children, sometimes I tell stories about mine and you probably can identify because you have gone through the same thing. I had one of those expressions of great character and the commitment of a 5 year old, one of my boys, very convicting. We went to the doctor. Now if you have been here long enough you know how I feel about that doctors. Its not that I have anything against them but it is what they do. I don’t really like to go to their offices and my son had been attacked by strep, as it was, and he was just flushed his cheeks were red and he had a high temperature and just hot and just weak so about 5:30 I got home and Marsha had made an appointment with the doctor so I took him to the pediatrician office. And I am more nervous than he. And we are sitting in there waiting finally that nurse comes and announces the name. I usually get clammy hands when that say Mr. Davey. Anyhow, we get up and walk in and we walk into this waiting room that is all tiled and everything echoes and we are sitting there and we are waiting for the nurse. Finally she arrives and looks him over and then she says what we need to do is a check to make sure it is strep. So what I have to do is take some samples from his throat. And she says open up and he opens up and she gowchy, that is my word, but she gowchy down there and he is gagging and I am over here gagging too. He does that twice and I feel so bad for him and I can kind of identifying with him. As she leaves I say why don’t you come and get on my lap. So he is on my lap, he is wiped out, and I am kind of whistling a little song softy. And he say, Dad, lets sing. So what do you want to sing? Let’s sing Alleluia. Here? This is a doctors office, you do not sing Alleluia. I did not tell him that I thought that. We sing Alleluia. It is echoing and the door is open and we get to the end of that verse and he says lets sing another stanza, another verse. I say, what do you want to sing? And he says, Lets sing I love Jesus. Now I am standing in front of strangers and I don’t wink an eyelash saying what I believe I ought to say and I talk to total strangers about Jesus Christ, but at that particular moment, do you know what went through my mine, I admit to you, how could I shut that door without my son knowing. Since he was in my lap I could not get over there and shut it. So here we are I love Jesus, people are walking back and forth exactly all over the place and I say Lord, I got the picture, I have learned what is edvidence in a sense of his own innocent but yet deep for his character.
When you see evidence in the light of a nation, it is interesting to see how God responses. And He will do basically two revelations of Himself.
Revelation 1. God is the warrior who fights for the faithful and leads me to the second.
Revelation 2. God is the creator who controls his creation.
I love this next passage. Look at verse 12. Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites for the sons of Israel and He said in the sight of Israel, in other words, the nation can hear. And Joshua is praying one of those public prayers. And He says, O sun, stand still at Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon. Verse 13, so the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged itself on its enemies. What is the problem? What is going on is Joshua is in the midst of defeating 5 kingdoms. He knows that this is unusual evidence of God’s power and it is getting dark. He needs more daylight to finish this mopping up. And he has the audacity to ask God to give him more daylight. Now God has never answered that prayer when I have prayed it. He is basically saying I need about 12 more hours of daylight. And God does.
Now I usually don’t take time to answer the critics because usually the critics are not setting down in church on Sunday morning. But I have to address this one issue for you may confront or be confronted with it where you work, this is the passage that everybody loves to run to. Oh, we know now, inspiration couldn’t be. How unscientific to say oh, sun stand still. We know that the sun does not stand still or I should say move. We know it is the earth that moves around the sun as it moves it rotates giving us the 24 hours cycles. We know that is how it operates, the sun is basically in the center. So for Joshua to stand and say O, sun stand still, that is a pretty big boo boo in the scriptures. You cannot get around that one. I would take the same critic and you might be with him sometime and he is seated and he is looking out over the lake and he sees the beautiful scenery that God is painting and what would he say? Isn’t the sunset beautiful? Sun who? You notice when it goes down, the beautiful colors? It goes where? You see, that is our perspective, that is the way we talk. In fact you can turn on your weather channel and it will tell you the hour and the minute of sunset and the hour and the minute of sunrise. Unscientific? Yea. But that is how we talk. Basically that is how Joshua was talking. In the language of his day he still talks that way today. He is in effect saying God I need a longer day so that I can finish this job. Interesting that Dallas Morning News, August 14, 1972, reported an incident discovered by scientists that an explosion on the sun’s surface had created a slower rotation of the earth making a very long day. Now whether we had that or not, is God powerful enough to order the creation? You see my friends, if the world could just believe Genesis 1 and what happened in chapter 1 they would have no trouble believing anything else in the book. But that is the stumbling block.
Now look at the last part of verse 13, Isn’t it not in the book of Jashar that is a collection of great events in Israel’s history mentioned even in the book of I Samuel. And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. Can you figure that out? No. Can you explain it? No. You can explain it away and my research uncovered about 21 different ways to explain it away. But if God is big enough to create, He is big enough to order.
Donald Green Barnhouse who was a tremendous expository of the word, who has effected your life probably indirectly. He is a man who influenced his young protégé by a man named Howard Hendricks. Howard Hendricks has gone on to influence men who you have probably heard speak, Chuck Swindoll and Stanley who have written. And this man was a very unique illustrator. Anyhow, he came back to Princeton Seminary on one occasion and he preached to that student body and the faculty appeared. And Robert Dick Wilson who happened be an Old Testament scholar at the seminary, a believer, came to listen and he came up to Barnhouse after the sermon and he said, Look, I just come in here, my boys one time, if you come back I won’t come back. I just want to come in here one time. The boys that graduated sat under me for I wanted to know if they have a little God or a big God.
Robert Dick Wilson went on to talk about those who have a little God have a lot trouble with God. He can’t do miracles. He can’t take care of inspirations or preservation. He is difficulty ordering the world. And he says there are those who have a big God. He speaks and it is done. He commands and it is accomplished. And Robert Dick Wilson said Mr. Barnhouse, you have a very big God. For those who have a big God this passage doesn’t even cause a hiccup. Now there is one more thing I want you to know about this miracle before going on, and that is, the sun and the moon. This is interesting because the Cannanites pagan religion, guess who 2 of their chief deities are? The sun and the moon. So by performing this miracle, God in effect sent a message that I am more powerful than your chief gods, I can control them.
Now I said that God could do 2 things because of Joshua’s character. That is He would allow Joshua to experience unexpected victory, number 1. And secondly, I want to lead to that now, He would use this alliance to influence the Gibonites for His glory. I want you to go back to chapter 9, and look at the inside of Joshua as he places them into service. Look at verse 27, But Joshua made them that day users of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord for this day in the place where He should choose. Notice that. Where did Joshua assigned them to serve? The altar. If you are going to serve, you are going to huge wood for the altar and you are going water and you are going to come many times a day. Joshua in effect says, I am going to expose you to the worship of Yahweh. And what happen? If you put the pieces together in the Old Testament you will discover something very fascinating. And it is this. The Gibonites came to follow Yahweh themselves.
Let me give you some of those clues. I will just read them off.
1. When the Jews in later years went off to follow after false gods, the Gibeonites refused to go.
2. When the land was divided, they choose Gibeon as the city were the altar was placed, where Erin and the priest resided. So that would become a special sacred city.
3. 400 years after the land was divided, David built the tabernacle in Gibeon. About 500 years before Christ in the time of Zerobobile, the genealogists talked about those who returned to Jerusalem at the Babylon exile and guess who they list as being followers of God returning to Jerusalem? The Gibeonites.
One of the most interesting clue that I uncovered was the fact that when Nehemiah went back to build the city of Jerusalem, guess who volunteered to go back and help them rebuild the walls? The Gibeonites. Exposure to worship, exposure to a man who responded in a way that probably surprised them. Joshua could have left them to hang, he could had said God, thank you for bringing along these 5 kings to wipe out an embarrassing situation. But yet they saw Joshua and his men covered in a nighttime which took them 3 hours to cover earlier to come to their rescue. I have no doubt that it amazed them. An exposure to the power and the might of God. An personal God. Eventually worked in the Gibeonites and brought them to faith in him as well.
My friend, you may be surrounded by Gibeonites. You probably work with a few. You may be married to one. Your son or daughter might be a Gibeonite. You may live next door to one. If we could keep our testimonies uncluttered and cleared that response and revealed character, we will then allow the circumstances where by God can revealed His character to us and through us and the Gibeonites around us. Who knows! May honor Him too.
How do the Gibeonites in your world view you?
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