Joshua 9

Joshua 9

The argument above is so compelling that many people today really believe that they should choose death over a lack of freedom. But a group of people in ancient Canaan did not think so.

Bible Passage: Joshua 9

Faced with imminent destruction from the punishment of God through the Israelites, the people of Gibeon devised a crafty plan to deceive the Israelites into a peace treaty.

3-6 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, … and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”

They knew that they would be found out but they trusted in the integrity of the people of God and were willing to be slaves in return for their lives. And so it became of them.

27 And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, in the place which He would choose, even to this day.

The modern/western reader, brought up in a tradition of human rights, quality of life and freedom of choice, may balk at the wimpish behavior of the Gibeonites. To him, such a life is not worth living. But is this perspective sound in the light of scripture?

Consider physical life from the perspective of Ecclesiastes 9:4 (which we have written about before):

But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

Paul exhorted Christians who were slaves to seize the chance to be free but not to be too concerned if such a situation did not present itself. He gives the Christian perspective that spiritually a believer is a free man from sin even though he may be a slave and a (happy) slave to Christ whatever state he might be in.

Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.                I Corinthians 7:21)

Marx scoffingly said that “religion is the opium of the masses” and he was right when false religion is used to manipulate the thoughts of the people. But the Bible rightly enlightens the believer to find solace in the true hope of eternal joy in heaven even while in the midst of oppression. That is what separates a true faith from the scorn and scoffing of the unbeliever who will turn to violence and selfish indulgence when they reject God in their embrace of atheistic humanism.

Consider the ‘freedom’ arguments below within the light of the Word of God:

Freedom for the woman – abortion to rid her of the burden of an unwanted child. But what about the freedom and life of that child?

Freedom from pain – euthanasia when the quality of life is affected by a terminal disease. But what about the cessation of all hope of gaining salvation for the eternal soul?

Freedom to love – homosexual relations and even marriage when one’s ‘orientation’ is such. But what about the physical diseases and psychological traumas associated (but often not reported) with such behavior? What about children adopted into such households – no research has shown that such children grow up normally.

It is not the case here of “freedom or death” but that such ‘freedom’ will lead to death:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites.

(I Corinthians 6:9)

Indeed, physically, it is best to be free and living, and if there be oppression (lack of freedom), then non-existence, death, and life, in that order.

Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun:

And look! The tears of the oppressed,
But they have no comforter—
On the side of their oppressors there is power,
But they have no comforter.

Therefore I praised the dead who were already dead, more than the living who are still alive. Yet, better than both is he who has never existed, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.                                                                                                           (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3)

 

But in Christ, we must always see the spiritual perspective. The Gibeonites made their decision to be slaves because of a spiritual perspective. They saw that the God of Israel was great but they also saw that the God of Israel was merciful. They did not mind slavery under the people of this God because life under them was really not oppressive:

27 And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, in the place which He would choose, even to this day.

In the end, they were placed close to the altar of the LORD with a great chance for salvation!

 

My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the LORD;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
My King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You.
                                                                        (Psalms 84:2-3)

 

One comment on “Joshua 9
  1. In today’s day and age, many people would hope for freedom over a lot of other things, especially religion.

    Because people feel as if religion will eventually become a burden, and that there is too much riding on religion to actually be willing to live up to whatever it entails.

    Humans are short sighted. As much as we like to plan for our future and everything else in between, we live for The Now because we have zero idea about what The Tomorrow may bring.

    So we’re self-centred and idealistic and we tend to get too caught up in the things we want for ourselves rather than the things that actually are good for us.

    It is not an instinctive behavior for humans to want to know more about their own salvation. We learn about it and then we question its possibility.

    Religion, the right and true one, sets people free. What we fail to see is the weight of our sins that drags us down and prevents us from being liberated.

    Religion takes away that burden and renews us physically and more importantly, spiritually.

    We live in a world of darkness, where the only source of true light is God.

    We no longer have to fight for freedom because we are under the grace of God. But what we have to do is step on the road that leads to eternal freedom and salvation so that we truly will become the free people of God.

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