But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, "We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us." But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, "Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?" They said to Joshua, "We are your servants." And Joshua said to them, "Who are you? And where do you come from?" They said to him, "From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the LORD your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, 'Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, "We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us."' Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey." So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them. (Joshua 9:3-15, ESV)
We've all done it at one point or another. We certainly didn't mean to, but it happened. We saw it; we wanted it; we bought it. And, in more than a few cases, we were then stuck with it. There are all sorts of drivers for an impulse buy. I happen to have a perfectly good generator in my garage that has gotten a grand total of just a couple uses despite the fact that it cost me several hundred dollars and I lugged it from Michigan to North Carolina when we moved. I'd wager each one of you has your own story to tell, be it funny or perhaps a little embarrassing. But I'd also wager that none of us had the amount of buyer's remorse ultimately experienced by the Israelites because of one colossally bad impulse buy.
The local folks were running the scale from indignant to scared silly based on what they heard this God of the Israelites doing. These newcomers to their land were making inroads and destroying complete cities left and right. Some came out to fight (and lost) while some, doubtless, headed off for parts unknown. The Gibeonites got together and hatched an especially devious plan. They didn't know it at the time, but its success was predicated on the people of Israel not staying true to form - and that went double for their fearless leader, Joshua.
Imagine the scene. You are Joshua, sitting in your general-in-command tent planning the next move, when one of your trusted lieutenants comes in with a few ragged, dirty, and tired-looking men. You exchange pleasantries and they begin to tell you a tale of how they've come to be in front of you. Something inside you tells you to probe further, but they have what seems to be a plausible answer and your inner voice is quieted. You and your staff make a decision, one that you will later regret as an impulse buy. You accept their story lock, stock, and barrel and you make a treaty with them. Even if your inner voice started to speak up again, it's too late.
In retrospect, how difficult would it have been for Joshua or one of the priests to consult God? I mean, they had the two "magic" glowing stones whereby God directly weighed in on such matters. Joshua had heard God's voice before and followed it, so it isn't like it would have been a new thing to consult the Almighty. Yet, as this passage records, they bought the lie and had to live with the resulting remorse - all for the lack of enough sense and humility to do what they had been doing regularly up to that point.
Now, I'm not saying that we have to roll out a fleece or wait for some miraculous sign every time we encounter a choice. But I will say that we need to live our lives in such a manner that consulting God is a regular part of who we are and how we conduct ourselves. The travels on the Crooked Path would probably go much more easily if we would take a lesson from the story in Joshua chapter 9, or perhaps from reading about those such as Brother Lawrence. Live our lives in such a way that God is constantly recognized as present in everything we do. Taking that approach, there would be a lot less impulse buying.
- So, how much of an impulse buyer are you in your daily life? Do you find you jump quickly to decisions and actions that you often regret later?
- Where do you look directly to God and where to you think He's left it in your hands to decide? How do you discern the difference (or should there be a difference)?
- What will it take to bring you to the point of understanding that God doesn't differentiate the way we do? Can you see yourself in a place where consulting God and hearing His heart are as natural as breathing?