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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them.”—Joshua 9:16 (NKJV)
There’s always a price to pay when we don’t seek God’s counsel, even if we don’t initially recognize it. We can miss a divine word of warning, totally oblivious of its very existence and our need for it. But at some point, our prayerlessness catches up with us, and the consequences begin to dawn on us.
That’s what happened three days after Israel swore a peace pact with the Gibeonites, believing they were from a distant and inconsequential land. Word reaches the Israeli camp that these people are their neighbors. The people they had just entered into a binding covenant with are actually those they were supposed to dispossess!
If you’ve ever had the proverbial rug pulled out from beneath you, you can relate to what the Nation of Israel was feeling right about now. So,Israel immediately confirms this by journeying to Gibeon. Now you might think that all bets would be off since this pact was based on a lie. But watch what happens next: “But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel” (Joshua 9:18 NKJV).
Amazingly, Israel honored their agreement and kept their word to not attack the Gibeonites. Why? The answer lies in the detail that they had made this vow “by the Lord God of Israel.” In other words, though deceived by the Gibeonites, Israel’s oath was based on the most sacred thing possible, the name of the Lord, and they would therefore honor it for His name’s sake. Keeping their word and maintaining the integrity of their God was more important than getting revenge or territory.
There’s a dignity in this that we, as God’s people, need to understand and emulate. God wants us to weigh our words very carefully and to honor them to the best of our ability, even if it’s to our own detriment. It’s a bad reflection on our heavenly Father when we jump in and out of commitments and contracts. After all, isn’t that the expectation that we have of God—to always honor His word to us? Why should our lives look any different?
Israel learned a valuable lesson from all of this, but we can learn just as valuable a lesson from them by being men and women of our word.
DIG: What lesson did Israel learn in this instance?
DISCOVER: What lesson can we learn from Israel?
DO: Ask a trusted friend how they would assess your integrity as far as keeping your word, then ask the Lord to help you strengthen this area of your life.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.