However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.” Joshua 9:3-6
The God of the Old Testament gets a bad rap. Have you ever thought that the God of the Old Testament seems different than Jesus? If you haven’t thought that yourself, maybe you have heard others express the sentiment. Full disclosure, this seeming discrepancy has been a source of much doubt and confusion for me over the years. It has caused me to question, doubt, and ultimately study the scriptures more closely. Through that study I have come to believe that the discrepancy has more to do with my lack of knowledge about the ancient world rather than any actual divine multiple personality disorder. If you look closer at the Old Testament, there is so much grace residue that covers the accounts of God and his interaction with the world.
Joshua 9 is one prime example. In this story the Gibeonites lie to the Israelites in order to save themselves from being destroyed by Israel. The story is filled with fascinating lessons, which I’ll let you explore or read about in other Daily posts this week. What I want to point out is how God honors their lie. What we find in this story is a group of people who see God’s power and they fear it. Even though they are not the people of God, they acknowledge that the God of Israel is far superior than their gods. They want to find some way to make a peace treaty with these people and their God. They way they do it is deceitful but God meets them halfway. Not only is this deceitful treaty honored, the Gibeonites end up close to the temple. It’s as if their acknowledgment of God’s supremacy is honored with closer proximity. God does not strike them down for their lies because God is driven by a desire for relationship more than he is by rules to be followed. That sounds pretty gracious to me. These kinds of stories saturate both Old and New Testaments.
What about us? Would you be so understanding to others? Can we look past the rules and meet people where they are? Take a moment to pray for God’s eyes for others. Ask him to help you prioritize people over fairness, rules, or any other standard.
By Aaron Bjorklund