1. A CRAFTY PLOT
a. What did the men of Gibeon do in seeing Israel’s victories? Joshua 9:3–6.
“[At Gilgal, the Israelites] were soon after visited by a strange deputation, who desired to enter into treaty with them. The ambassadors represented that they had come from a distant country, and this seemed to be confirmed by their appearance. Their clothing was old and worn, their sandals were patched, their provisions moldy, and the skins that served them for wine bottles were rent and bound up, as if hastily repaired on the journey.
“In their far-off home—professedly beyond the limits of Palestine—their fellow countrymen, they said, had heard of the wonders which God had wrought for His people, and had sent them to make a league with Israel.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 505.
b. Relate the encounter and what Israel should have known. Joshua 9:7–13.
“The Hebrews had been specially warned against entering into any league with the idolaters of Canaan, and a doubt as to the truth of the strangers’ words arose in the minds of the leaders.”—Ibid.
2. A DISAPPOINTING DECEPTION
a. What mistake did Joshua and the leaders make with regard to the Gibeonites? Why did they fail? Joshua 9:14, 15.
b. How did the Israelites react upon seeing they had been deceived? Why were they right in sparing the Gibeonites? Joshua 9:16–20.
“Great was the indignation of the Israelites as they learned the deception that had been practiced upon them. . . . ‘All the congregation murmured against the princes;’ but the latter refused to break the treaty, though secured by fraud, because they had ‘sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel.’ ‘And the children of Israel smote them not.’ The Gibeonites had pledged themselves to renounce idolatry, and accept the worship of Jehovah; and the preservation of their lives was not a violation of God’s command to destroy the idolatrous Canaanites. Hence the Hebrews had not by their oath pledged themselves to commit sin. And though the oath had been secured by deception, it was not to be disregarded.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 506.
c. What do we need to realize about the importance of integrity in keeping our word once we have given it? Proverbs 12:22; Psalm 15:1, 4 (last part).
“The obligation to which one’s word is pledged—if it do not bind him to perform a wrong act—should be held sacred. No consideration of gain, of revenge, or of self-interest can in any way affect the inviolability of an oath or pledge.”—Ibid.
“If in any matter you make a statement as to what you will do, and afterward find that you have favored others to your own loss, do not vary a hairsbreadth from principle. Carry out your agreement. By seeking to change your plans you would show that you could not be depended on. And should you draw back in little transactions, you would draw back in larger ones. Under such circumstances some are tempted to deceive, saying, I was not understood. My words have been taken to mean more than I intended. The fact is, they meant just what they said, but lost the good impulse, and then wanted to draw back.”—Child Guidance, p. 154.
3. THE FATE OF THE GIBEONITES
a. Because the Gibeonites had resorted to trickery, what became their destiny in life? Joshua 9:21–23. How does this show the impact that the God of Israel had made on the surrounding nations?
“The Gibeonites were permitted to live, but were attached as bondmen to the sanctuary, to perform all menial services. . . .
“Gibeon . . . ‘was a great city, as one of the royal cities,’ ‘and all the men thereof were mighty.’ It is a striking evidence of the terror with which the Israelites had inspired the inhabitants of Canaan, that the people of such a city should have resorted to so humiliating an expedient to save their lives.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 506.
b. How did the Gibeonites respond to the verdict? Joshua 9:24–27.
“[Joshua 9:27 quoted.] These conditions [the Gibeonites] gratefully accepted, conscious that they had been at fault, and glad to purchase life on any terms.”—Ibid.
c. What evidence shows that the Gibeonites would have been blessed if they had been honest, telling the whole truth instead of practicing deception? Exodus 12:48, 49; Leviticus 19:33, 34.
“God had made provision that all who would renounce heathenism, and connect themselves with Israel, should share the blessings of the covenant. . . .
“It was no light humiliation to those citizens of a ‘royal city,’ ‘all the men whereof were mighty,’ to be made hewers of wood and drawers of water throughout their generations. But they had adopted the garb of poverty for the purpose of deception, and it was fastened upon them as a badge of perpetual servitude. Thus through all their generations their servile condition would testify to God’s hatred of falsehood.”—Ibid, p. 507.
4. KEEPING PROMISES
a. What did the five kings of the Amorites do when they discovered that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel? Joshua 10:1–5.
“The submission of Gibeon to the Israelites filled the kings of Canaan with dismay. Steps were at once taken for revenge upon those who had made peace with the invaders. . . . Their movements were rapid.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 507.
b. When the Gibeonites saw their danger, what message did they send to Joshua, and what actions did he take as a result? Joshua 10:6–9.
“[Joshua 10:6 quoted.] The danger threatened not the people of Gibeon alone, but also Israel. This city commanded the passes to central and southern Palestine, and it must be held if the country was to be conquered.
“Joshua prepared to go at once to the relief of Gibeon. The inhabitants of the besieged city had feared that he would reject their appeal, because of the fraud which they had practiced; but since they had submitted to the control of Israel, and had accepted the worship of God, he felt himself under obligation to protect them. He did not this time move without divine counsel, and the Lord encouraged him in the undertaking. . . .
“By marching all night he brought his forces before Gibeon in the morning. Scarcely had the confederate princes mustered their armies about the city when Joshua was upon them.”—Ibid., pp. 507, 508.
c. What revealed the amazing power of Israel’s God in behalf of those whom He defends? Joshua 10:10, 11.
“The immense host fled before Joshua up the mountain pass to Beth-horon; and having gained the height, they rushed down the precipitous descent upon the other side. Here a fierce hailstorm burst upon them.”—Ibid., p. 508.
5. PRAYER + ACTION
a. What amazing request did God grant to His faithful servant, Joshua, to the honor and glory of the Creator? Joshua 10:12–14. Why did He do this?
“Joshua, looking down from the ridge above, saw that the day would be too short for the accomplishment of his work. If not fully routed, their enemies would again rally, and renew the struggle. [Joshua 10:12, 13 quoted.]”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 508.
“The Spirit of God inspired Joshua’s prayer, that evidence might again be given of the power of Israel’s God. Hence the request did not show presumption on the part of the great leader. Joshua had received the promise that God would surely overthrow these enemies of Israel, yet he put forth as earnest effort as though success depended upon the armies of Israel alone. He did all that human energy could do, and then he cried in faith for divine aid. The secret of success is the union of divine power with human effort. Those who achieve the greatest results are those who rely most implicitly upon the Almighty Arm. The man who commanded, “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon,” is the man who for hours lay prostrate upon the earth in prayer in the camp of Gilgal. The men of prayer are the men of power.
“This mighty miracle testifies that the creation is under the control of the Creator.”—Ibid., p. 509.
b. What did God again do that shows that He is in control of nature? Isaiah 38:7, 8. What will He do in the future? Job 38:22, 23; Revelation 16:17, 21.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Have I ever been deceived? If so, how might I have avoided it?
2. Why did Israel remain true to the tricksters who had deceived them?
3. In the story of the Gibeonites, what evidence shows that lying does not pay?
4. Why did God prosper Israel in the battle against the Amorites?
5. What will happen in the future that will show that God controls the natural elements?