Deception is one of the most painful experiences as it erodes trust. References to trusting in yourself for future decisions and trusting in others to be dependable and true become taxing. Contingent upon the level and amount of times we have been DECEIVED, trusting again can be a lengthy process. Noah Webster defines deceive as, “to take aside, to ensnare, to mislead the mind, to cause err, to cause to believe what is false or disbelieve what is true, to impose upon, to delude, to beguile, to cheat, to cut off from expectation, to frustrate or disappoint, to take from, and lastly to rob.” There are several accounts of deception that occurred in the lives of Biblical characters. This should be of no surprise as satan, known as the great deceiver, has sought out to annihilate God’s people from the beginning. A story in Joshua chapter nine highlights how Joshua and the Israelites were DECEIVED.
After the cities of Jericho and Ai were destroyed, the Hittite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite peoples decided to band together to fight against Israel. However; when the people of Gibeon heard the news, verses three through six tell how they worked craftily and pretended to be ambassadors. They used old sacks and torn wineskins for their donkeys, wore patched sandals, and carried dry and moldy bread. When Joshua asked who they were and where they had come from, a tale was concocted referring to living far away and being on a very long journey. They spoke of hearing of the fame of the LORD God and what He had done in Egypt and to the two kings of the Amorites. The people of Gibeon requested a covenant with Joshua and the Israelites. Verses fourteen and fifteen NKJV shed light on what followed, ‘Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.” After three days, the truth was revealed regarding the so called “far away travelers” who were in fact neighbors. Verses twenty-two and twenty-three state, Then Joshua called for them, saying, “Why have you DECEIVED us, saying, ‘We are very far from you, when you dwell near us? Now therefore, you are cursed, and none of you shall be freed from being slaves-woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.” The covenant was binding, yet problematic because God had commanded Moses to destroy all of the inhabitants of the land He was giving them. The covenant was in opposition to God’s best plan.
It is wise to learn from our mistakes. It is wiser to learn from the mistakes of others. We cannot prevent deceptive practices devised against us; however if we incorporate a critical tool learned in verses fourteen and fifteen, we can respond in a way that includes God. He is the only One who can see through to truth. It is imperative to ask counsel of the LORD first before agreeing to anything. Interestingly, the Presence of the LORD was with the Israelites when they made the errant decision. They had the Ark of the Covenant with them. Should not that have been enough? Yes, the Presence of the LORD is what we need. Yet, I believe God wants more of us than just relying on Him to be present. He wants us to be engaged with Him. God is all about relationship. He knew how to steer His loved ones in the right direction, but they overlooked Him and made decisions leaving His counsel out. Sound familiar? If we are are honest, this is a faulty practice of ours time and time again. So often after we are DECEIVED, we cry to the LORD asking Him to smite our deceivers and bail us out of circumstances of our own making. And if it does not go our way as planned, we blame the very God who longed to help us prevent the mess in the first place.
Imagine business relationships where you set out on your own never asking a manager or mentor for advice. Would you get eaten alive in the marketplace? How about a married couple who does not bounce ideas off of each other concerning minor or major decisions? What if they did not even talk to each other, but were just present in a house together? Clearly that would not work for long. Who do you think created the concept of conversation and relating to one another? God longs for us to be present with Him as well and engage in conversation and every area of our lives. He delights to speak to us and give good counsel. We simply cannot leave Him out of the equation. Prevention is always more prudent than a cure. Prevent being DECEIVED by consulting God in His infinite wisdom. Do not go out on a limb making rogue decisions. Only He has your best interests in mind.