Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3261

Jump Start # 3261

Joshua 9:16 “It came about at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land.”

  I’ve been teaching, “Life lessons from Joshua.” Great study. This past week we covered the Gibeon deception. Israel, led by Joshua, who was led by God, crossed the Jordan and started cleaning house. First in line was Jericho and the walls came tumbling down. Then on to Ai. An early defeat, led to dealing with sin in the camp. They regrouped and took care of Ai. Next in line was Gibeon. They knew about Jericho and Ai. Rather than fight, they sought a peace alliance with Israel, expect the conditions were bogus and misleading. They disguised themselves as travelers from afar with worn out clothes and little provisions. They begged Israel to make a covenant with them. Without asking the Lord, an agreement was forged. They would be protected by Israel.

  This is where our verse comes in. Three days later, Joshua discovers that they were cheated. They were not from far away. Gibeon was twenty five miles away and next in line. Joshua kept his agreement but he made the people of Gibeon to be servants to Israel. They were to carry wood and water for Israel.

  In the midst of all of this, emerges three lessons for leaders. Leaders are always facing challenges and tests. This section of Joshua illustrates three major challenges that leaders face.

First, the challenge of disobedience among the people. The sin of Achan affected the whole nation. The choice one person makes can impact the entire family or a whole congregation. Achan’s greed involved more than taking spoil from Jericho. It reflected a disbelief in God’s word. He could do what he wanted. God’s law didn’t mean what it says and he could get away with disobedience. This is always a challenge for leaders, whether it is in the home or the church. There are always some who think the rules do not apply to them. There are those who will act selfishly and put others in harms way simply because they didn’t want to do what God said. The challenge is to teach others that all of us must follow God’s word. The Corinthians were told that a little leaven, leavens the whole lump. Good must be praised and wrong must be warned about.

  Second, the challenge of deception among the enemy. A leader must be able to discern. Satan can appear as an angel or one of the sheep. Careful eyes, listening ears, and a heart that wants to protect others will help keep deception out. The envoy from Gibeon didn’t act like an envoy. How ill planned they were to be so shabby in their dress and to run out of food. And, most envoys bring gifts when visiting another nation. Gibeon had nothing. Red flags should have popped up everywhere for Joshua. They never answered where they were from. Vague generalities is a common disguise of the enemy. Just enough truth to be believable, but not enough truth to be honest and upfront.

  The key is to discern. Leaders must be mature, this is true in the home as well as in the church. Being naïve is to think that the enemy means well, or worse, that there are no enemies. Satan is very active and very strong. He will lie, cheat and steal, to get his way with us. Satan has a way of making a lie seem truthful. He has a way of making the crooked seem straight. Twisting and turning the facts, deception can blind our eyes to what is true.

  God’s leaders must be wise. They must be willing to ask questions and ask for proof. The enemy has a way of switching subjects and turning the discussion back to us and away from itself. This is hard, but good leaders will see through this. They can recognize the difference between a wolf and a sheep. Wolves are taller. Wolves do not eat grass. Wolves are aggressive. The wise leader will notice that. Error doesn’t announce itself. Books do not come with a warning label on them. Podcasts, blogs and other popular teaching mechanisms, can look good, sound good, seem good and we want them to be good. However, the discerning leader recognizes that this is nothing more than a wolf trying to work his way into the sheep.

  Third, the challenge of Dedication to your promises. Joshua promised and made a covenant with the people of Gibeon. Even though they lied and deceived him, Joshua stuck to his word. One would think that since the agreement was made on false pretenses and lies filled the process, that Joshua would back out of the deal. One would think that this house of cards would cause Joshua to strike down Gibeon for all their deception. But that didn’t happen. Joshua kept his word. He kept his word even though Gibeon lied. This all points to the character of Joshua. He was a man of his word. He made an agreement and he was going to stick to it.

  Keeping promises is hard. It’s hard because situations change. It’s hard because we are forgetful. It’s hard because things do not always turn favorable to us. It wasn’t in Israel’s best interest to take care of Gibeon. The covenant was made without seeking the Lord on this. The covenant would alter that “drive out all the nations” that Israel was to fulfill. Gibeon would not be driven out. They would be spared.

  Leading is not about what looks good on paper or budgets or ideas floating around a room. It’s about working with people. It’s dealing with disobedience and deception. It’s being on the street. It’s in the coffee houses. It’s working with people where they are. Often, we want someone else to do all the hard stuff and then we come in and run a smooth, well-oiled machine. But most times it is not like this. Most times establishing Biblical foundations is necessary to lead the people back to the Lord properly.

  Challenges facing leaders. Really, nothing is new. Joshua faced these things. We do the same today.