Thursday, 6 September 2012

Truth and Deception


I want to share with you another really important lesson the Israelites learned the hard way while capturing the land of Canaan. I too had to learn this the hard way. I'm hoping you don't! Joshua 9 is the story of the Gibeonite deception. Having seen how the Israelites were winning all their battles conquering the other tribes, the Gibeonites, who were next in line to be destroyed, decided to attack in a different way. In the form of a lie. They approached the Israelites and asked for a peace treaty, deceiving them by telling them they were from a country far away. The Israelites believed the lie and decided that God had not declared the Gibeonites devoted for destruction and assumed a peace treaty with them would be fine. Later they discovered the truth: that the Gibeonites were locals who owned a big portion of Canaan. Land God had given to them. Land they could no longer now claim for themselves. Sigh! Their Canaan was now a doughnut! The key to this chapter and it's lesson for us is in verse 14. Here God says they were deceived because they “did not inquire of the Lord.”

There is a warning here that when we don't inquire of the Lord an enemy may not be defeated. At Ai, (Joshua 6,7) the Israelites failed because they lost sight of God's word and didn't destroy what was devoted for destruction. Here they believed a lie and didn't attack because they did not inquire of God as to the truth of the situation and as to the battle plans. They tried to handle it on their own. Both battles were lost. Both battles the enemy won. Joshua 5 says the Lord is the commander of the battle not us and as such we are to get the battle plans from Him and inquire of Him. Different situations require different strategies as you can see through out the whole book of Joshua, but in each case, the battle is won when God is the commander of the battle and provides the battle plans and they are obeyed.

So how does all this apply to us? That was my exact question to God back in April, when I read Joshua 9. Were there times when I believed a lie and failed to attack when I should have? So I started praying about this. How do I know wisdom and truth in a situation. I didn't want to believe a lie and have it affect my actions and my faith and my success in battles, both physical and spiritual.

My husband watched a documentary a couple of months ago in which African tribal women were allowing the tribal men to circumcise them, by cutting off their clitoris. They allowed this because for generations they had been taught a lie – that they could only conceive and bear children if they were circumcised. All these women submitted to the circumcision because they believed a lie. It wasn't until a European woman visited their tribe and told them the truth that they started to stand up for themselves and make a change.

Way back in Genesis chapter 2, Adam and Eve were given the choice about truth and lies. There were 2 trees planted in the garden. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their choice to take from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil still impacts us today. What they effectively did on that day was to declare that Man was to be self-sufficient in his discovery or learning of what is good and evil and in defining wisdom. “I define good”, “I define evil” or as the book of Judges puts it “they did what was right in their OWN eyes”. If Adam and Eve had taken from the Tree of Life instead, they would have been submitting to God's lordship over truth and knowledge. The Tree of Life means I let God define what is good and what is evil and what is truth and what is wise – not man.

God has given us the Holy Spirit – the spirit of Truth as he is referred to in John 16:13. It is His role to guide us into truth. That means we need guiding! That's because we are easily deceived (Mark 13). This has been one of the most important lessons I have learned from God. To seek God and His truth. To not assume that everything I hear is truth. To ask Him for the truth in situations. Truth is fact. It is absolute. So I started asking...”what is the truth about why I am sick, what is the truth about your doctrine on healing, what is the truth about how I should raise my children”. In some areas of my life He has done a complete 180, other areas less change or little change has occurred so far.

Proverbs 2 says we are to seek, call out, cry out, look, search for wisdom, truth, understanding, discretion and insight. These are all strong adjectives that imply it is not easily found and there is an intensity required in the search. To have wisdom means I have the knowledge and provisions to make the right choices at the right time. It's both intellectual and practical all in one. He doesn't just show us the right path and then not provide for us practically. The passage goes on to list all the blessings or advantages that God will give to those who seek His wisdom. There are some amazing promises there (Proverbs 2,3). Check them out for yourself. James 1 says that when we ask God for wisdom he gives it to us generously. I love that. I need that!

But there is a prerequisite that must be fulfilled first. Proverbs 1:7 says it all must start with a fear of God. A longing to know Him and grow closer to Him. A longing to have Him rule our lives, not us. We seek Him first above everything and then the blessings follow. Not seek the blessings first. There have been times in my life where God has told me, “you want the blessing more than me” and I've had to repent of my idolatry.

And so I learn another important lesson. It is important to inquire of God as to the truth in a situation and to ask for his wisdom in dealing with it. :)

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