The Danger of Walking by Sight

“The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.”—Joshua 9:14-15 (NIV)

The old expression, “Seeing is believing,” is one that we as Christians shouldn’t embrace because not only is it repeated by religious skeptics, but more importantly, because things in life aren’t always as they seem. Today’s passage of Scripture provides a perfect illustration as to why it’s unwise to trust in our sight and not our faith.

At this point in the Book of Joshua, the Israelites are on the heels of great victories against the cities of Jericho and Ai and are likely feeling pretty confident in themselves. Word of their conquests had spread across the region, as their enemies formed an alliance to wage war against them (Joshua 9:1-2). Then, something interesting happens: One of Israel’s neighboring enemies, disguised as people from “a very distant country,” sends a delegation to Joshua, and the elders make a treaty with them.

This group of ambassadors was clearly trying to deceive the Israelites by dressing up as weary travelers and pointing to physical evidence—moldy bread, cracked wineskins, and worn clothes and sandals—to validate their story. Although the men of Israel questioned their sincerity (Joshua 9:7-8) and examined their provisions, today’s verse tells us where they went wrong: they did not seek God’s counsel on the matter. In short, they relied on their own wisdom rather than God’s.

While everything appeared to be in order and satisfied the Israelites’ logic, the reality is they were deceived by their enemies and then bound by the oath they swore to them. If we’re being honest, we are just as susceptible to acting before praying, especially after we’ve experienced spiritual victories or success. We presume God will bless our plans without asking for His counsel beforehand, which is foolish.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) reminds us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” 

Bible commentator J. Hampton Keathley III offers this bit of sage advice: “Before entering into any alliance—taking a partner in life, going into business with another, yielding assent to any proposition which involves confederation with others—be sure to ask counsel at the mouth of the Lord. He will assuredly answer by an irresistible impulse—by the voice of a friend; by a circumstance strange and unexpected; by a passage of Scripture. He will choose His own messenger; but He will send a message.”

The question is: Will we believe what we see or what we hear from the Lord?

DIG: Have you ever been deceived by appearances? How did you feel once you realized the truth?

DISCOVER: What does the Bible teach us about seeking God’s counsel and wisdom? 

DO: The next time you are faced with an important decision in life or are uncertain if you can trust what someone is telling you, bring the situation before the Lord. Ask for God’s counsel and wisdom, and wait patiently for Him to respond with a message—and then obey!

About the Author

Rob Nieminen

Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.