Greetings fellow Believers in Jesus Christ. In Christ we have salvation and eternal life and the love of God to us and every other spiritual blessing He has for us. Here in this life, we enjoy these things mingled together with the bitterness of the world and the flesh and the devil. (Jn.16:33, Acts 14:22, I Cor.4:9-13) But a day is coming very soon when we will only enjoy pleasures at the right hand of God forever more, the days of bitterness and tribulation will be gone. (Ps.16:11, Rev.21:4, Isa.25:8) I for one look forward to that day. (Phil.1:23, I Kg.19:4)
Well before then Christ calls us to be busy in His vineyard, busy about our heavenly Father’s business, busy sowing the gospel of the kingdom. (Lk.12:37, Mt.24:46)
Part of the work that God puts into our hands is the work of worshiping Him in His word. And I would say this Beloved, the more we work with God’s word, the more we live in this book, the more we will experience the sin-conquering love of Jesus Christ – for us. Jesus is Immanuel. He is God with us. Jesus is God for us. (Rom.8:31-32) Beloved, listen to the voice of your God in His word more than you listen to the words of men. Man is a natural born liar. (Rom.3:4,13) God is truth personified.
Tonight, we are looking at Joshua chapter nine. Let me read the entire chapter for us. Please read along. Hear the holy and good word of our holy and good God, read.
Joshua 9:1. Now it came about when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country and in the lowland and on all the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, heard of it, 2 that they gathered themselves together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel. 3 When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4 they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, 5 and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled. 6 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.” 7 The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?” 8 But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua said to them, “Who are you and where do you come from?” 9 They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt, 10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth. 11 “So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us.”‘ 12 “This our bread was warm when we took it for our provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled. 13 “These wineskins which we filled were new, and behold, they are torn; and these our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long journey.” 14 So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. 15 Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them. 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. 17 Then the sons of Israel set out and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon and Chephirah and Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim. 18 The sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. 19 But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. 20 “This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.” 21 The leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for the whole congregation, just as the leaders had spoken to them. 22 Then Joshua called for them and spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you are living within our land? 23 “Now therefore, you are cursed, and you shall never cease being slaves, both hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24 So they answered Joshua and said, “Because it was certainly told your servants that the LORD your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; therefore we feared greatly for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. 25 “Now behold, we are in your hands; do as it seems good and right in your sight to do to us.” 26 Thus he did to them, and delivered them from the hands of the sons of Israel, and they did not kill them. 27 But Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day, in the place which He would choose.
Brothers and sisters in Christ let’s go to Him now and ask Him to bless our time together. Remember Christ is our holy and heavenly and sympathetic High Priest. (Heb.4:14-16, WLC 44, WSC 25) Pray.
I have entitled this sermon on the Gibeonite deception as “Shades of Gentile Inclusion – Saved to Serve”.
God is removing sinners from His presence.
Many of us are familiar with this chapter, or at least we are somewhat acquainted with the deception by the Gibeonites. And they certainly are one of the main participants in this chapter.
Before we address them, I do want us to see this chapter within the larger picture of what is happening during this time. God is busy casting out the unbelievers from His land. I stress the word “His” land. Everything is His.
God is separating professing unbelievers from His professing Believers. (2 Cor.6:14-18) Again, the key idea is, this is done “in the Promised Land”. This physical land is a foretaste of the ultimate Promised Land in the new heavens and the new earth. (Heb.11:1-40)
We are being taught, in that Eternal and Holy Place, all unbelievers will be barred from entering in. By their unbelief in Christ, they have rejected the only Sin-Bearer, Sin-Atoner, and Sin-Cleanser. And thus, Holy God sees them as unclean and in their sin. And so, they must be expelled from His holy presence which abides with His holy people in His holy land. (Haba.1:13, Exod.3:5, Acts 7:33, Josh.5:15)
Someday, the true and the ultimate Joshua will Himself make an eternal separation between the righteous and the wicked. (Ps.1:1-6, Mt.25:31-46)
Jesus will separate those that truly love Him in spirit and in truth from all those that do not. Heaven will be occupied only by Holy God and holy angels and holy men and women. And the only way that sinful people might be made holy is to be found in Christ by Spirit-wrought faith. Oh beloved, may we all beware of the evil heart of unbelief. On the day of our death may Christ find us as true Believers. (Heb.3:8-12)
Sinners resist God’s removal of them.
Now related to God’s removal of sinners from Himself and from His people, God records for us in His word, the response of those people.
You see sinners in their sin do not want to give up their sin. They want to be the lords of their own lives. They want to worship the creature and not the Creator. (Rom.8:7, Judges 21:25, Rom.1:18-32)
Unbelievers are not neutral towards God. They are inwardly and outwardly hostile towards God. And they are inwardly hateful to the true children of God. (Jn.15:18-19) And as they have opportunity, they often express their hated towards the beloved children of God with hateful words and hateful actions.
This is part of the cross-carrying that our Christ requires of us. This is part of our sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Humiliation and suffering come before glory and exaltation. (Mt.16:24-26)
I want you to think of this. How did the unbelieving Canaanites in Jericho respond to the Lord and to the Lord’s people? They took defensive positions behind their stone walls. (Josh.6:1-27) They said in essence about the Lord, we will not have this Lord reign over us! (Lk.19:14)
Unbelievers resist the Lord. That is one key characteristic of being an unbeliever.
Unbelievers show their unbelief by their disobedience to the word of God. (Lk.6:46-49)
Likewise, the people of Ai show us that they will fight against the Lord, the word of the Lord, the command of the Lord and the army of the Lord. (Josh.7, 8)
Now please look at how our passage opens.
Joshua 9:1. Now it came about when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country and in the lowland and on all the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, heard of it, 2 that they gathered themselves together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel.
Look at the nature of the unbeliever. (Rom.3:9-18) The unbeliever in Jericho says to God, You Jehovah will not remove me. The unbeliever in Ai says, You Jehovah will not remove me. And now we have the unbelieving Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites say, You Jehovah will not remove me.
This is Psalm two Beloved.
Psalm 2:2. The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!”
Think of all the ways that human beings distinguish themselves, and I mean, often to distinguish themselves from other human beings. Such as, language, origin of birth, parentage, social standing, money, politics, color of skin, amount of formal education, type of vocation, and on and on.
Well, what the word of God teaches us is that fallen unbelieving sinners are morally and spiritually the same notwithstanding all those other distinctions.
Rebellious creatures fight against the divine Creator.
And one of the things God shows us here is that sinners are quite willing to put their distinctions aside in order to fight against their common enemy, which is God.
What do I mean? Look at these various peoples. Most of the time they were busy fighting one another.
“Birds” may look different on the outside, but their common cause “by flocking together” against the Lord shows us their true spiritual nature.
Now I am going to commend these unbelievers in a limited way. In one way these children of darkness, these children of the world, they are being worldly wise in their joining forces with one another to keep from being expelled from the land. This is shrewd.
Jesus actually speaks about this.
Luke 16:8. And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.
Of course, Christ is not commending sin, but He is merely acknowledging the idea of being purposeful or thinking as regards to one’s actions and one’s desired goals.
These unbelievers desire to not be defeated by Israel. Remember these unbelievers are fighting a defensive war. And mostly defensive wars are considered just wars as opposed to offensive wars. Except in this case, Israel is really acting as God’s instrument of justice on people that have been busy waging a spiritually offensive war against the Lord from their mother’s womb.
These people have just watched two individual cities and tribe-groups fall before Israel. So, they reason they would have a better chance of defeating Israel if they joined forces. Remember America did a species of this in WW2, we joined forces with Russia to defeat the Axis Powers knowing that Russia was really no true friend of ours.
Imagine if Christians could be as wise as unbelievers and (really) join forces with other Christians even those that may differ with us on secondary and tertiary issues so we could advance the kingdom of Christ.
Let’s ask the question, what should these various kings and their people have done in light of the Lord’s command that He was going to take this land away from the unbelievers and give it to His children? They should have repented of their sin and their unbelief. And come in faith to the Lord of Lords and the king of kings seeking forgiveness and mercy.
All of these sinners should have done what believing Rahab the Canaanitess did in Jericho, she sought her refuge in the Lord. (Josh.2:9-14, Heb.11:31, James 2:25)
All of these sinners should have done what Ruth the Moabitess did, she threw herself under the protection of the Lord and sought her peace in Boaz the kinsman redeemer, to redeem her and to graft her into the people of God. Remember, this woman is included in the lineage of Jesus! (Ruth 1:16-17, 4:13-22, Matt.1:5)
That is the only safe recourse for sinners. Sinners of every tribe, tongue, and nation – come to Christ for refuge. (Rev.5:9, Gal.3:23-29, Mt.28:18-20) He will receive You. God will graft you into His family. You will live in the Promised Land with Him. (Jn.10:14-16)
Sinners resist God’s removal of them.
Now let’s address the Gibeonites. These men are still sinners and so they are trying to resist God from removing them from the land.
They have taken a different tactic than their fellow unbelieving neighbors. They have taken counsel within themselves and decided to resist the plans of Israel to destroy them by deception.
V.9. These people were Hivites, but Hivites from the town of Gibeon. Ham was the second son of Noah. Ham was the father of Cush, Mizraim, Phut and Canaan. Ham mocked his father Noah when Noah got drunk and disrobed. God cursed Ham’s son Canaan for this. (Gen.9:19-27) Canaan is the father of the Hivites.
Genesis 10:15. Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth 16 and the Jebusite and the Amorite and the Girgashite 17 and the Hivite and the Arkite and the Sinite 18 and the Arvadite and the Zemarite and the Hamathite; and afterward the families of the Canaanite were spread abroad.
Let me say a few things in their favor. And “no” I never commend unbelief. I just said they should have repented and come in faith to the Lord.
But we do see this with the Gibeonites, they actually believe that the Lord and the Lord’s people will be victorious in the land. Therefore, they are worldly-wise by believing that they would lose, and God would win.
They are trying to remain alive in the face of a more powerful opponent. So, they resort to a trick. Now I will remind you. Israel just defeated Ai – with a trick, with deception. So, let’s not be too quick to judge these unbelieving folks too harshly.
Short of believing and repenting this was the best option their unbelief afforded them. After all what are they trying to do? They are trying to save their lives. They are moved to seek their salvation, albeit physical salvation.
Some of the Reformers saw this as a glimpse of their infant faith that if they joined themselves with the Lord’s people that they might live and not die. The Bible does promise that God will save Jews and Gentiles and make them into one new spiritual family from the very first book of the Bible.
Genesis 28:14. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Gen.12:1-3)
For me, I do not quite see saving faith yet because they refer to the Lord as “your” God and not “their” God or “my” God. But I cannot be certain. Because even in this it could be like a former Hindu speaking to a Christian about God as the God of the Christians simply like saying, not my former false gods.
However, I do see that by their joining themselves to Israel or even being near to Israel that this will in fact be a means for them to know the Lord and receive saving mercy in Him. Let me read v.8-11 on this.
Joshua 9:8. But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua said to them, “Who are you and where do you come from?” 9 They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt, 10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth. 11 “So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us.”‘
Calvin said that the Gibeonites judged rightly but they acted dishonestly. Again, I say, remember how Israel defeated Ai, through deception. Divinely approved deception, but still deception.
The thinking of these Gibeonites is evident. They are thinking if they enter into a covenant even by fraud, that the Israelites would still honor the covenant. Now this is an interesting thought.
Personally, I would think that you would not have to honor a covenant in which you were deceived and so you sworn an oath based on the lie of another. Calvin says as much. He says a covenant secured by fraud is null and void according to strict justice.
So perhaps there are hints of God’s mercy towards these people?
I put the marriage “covenant” of Leah in this category. Her father Laban deceived Jacob (the deceiver of his father Isaac) by switching daughter Leah instead of daughter Rachel. I have always wondered why Jacob did not object and give Leah back to her father. (Gen.29:20-26)
But this is very interesting to me. These Gentile pagans believe that these Believers in the Lord will honor their (earthly) covenant with men – no matter what. Wow. I wonder, do unbelievers think Christians will honor our word – no matter what? (probably not) Maybe the Reformers were right and the Gibeonites did have seminal faith?
V.4-5. Now, let’s look a little bit at the actual deception by these people.
They take worn-out sacks or worn-out packs, worn-out wineskins, worn-out clothes, worn-out everything and dry bread. Everything is designed to make them look like foreigners from a distant land. They knew God told Israel to kill all the Canaanites. So they pretend, oh we live way over near Egypt, or something like that. OK so everything thus far is a lie.
V.6. They tell Israel what they want, a covenant of peace with Israel.
V.7. We see that Israel is a little distrustful. They even say to themselves, what if this is a trick?
This is somewhat like old Isaac. Jacob comes and starts to deceive him by pretending to be brother Esau. And father Isaac says, your voice says Jacob, but your hairy arms and neck tell me you are Esau. Then he says, are you really Esau? (Gen.27:1-24)
V.9-10. But now when they come to actually speak with Joshua and Israel, they do in fact mix in a little truth. They say, we have heard of the victories of the Lord your God. This is true.
Joshua 9:14. So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. 15 Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.
Joshua and Israel erred, even sinned, in not seeking the Lord’s counsel. However, since all things are governed by the Lord, even this is under His guidance. (Eph.1:11)
This will be the way by which these Canaanites might come near to know and to love the Lord of Glory. One man said, figuratively speaking we are all Canaanites, and we deserve to be destroyed by God. But how thankful we are that the True Joshua has made a covenant of peace with us. What a blessing it is to be Joshua-Jesus’ slaves – that is true freedom.
Servitude to the Lord.
V.16-27. Now let’s learn of the Gibeonites being unmasked.
Within three days they hear from other people within the land about their real identity. Joshua confronts them with the truth. He asks them, why did you lie to us? They tell the truth; we knew God told you to kill us and we did not want to die. Fairly reasonable. 😊
Joshua keeps his word to keep them alive, but he imposes on them the loss of their liberty. They purchased their lives at the cost of their liberty. And they said, this is agreeable to us.
Joshua 9:9. They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt,
Joshua 9:11. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us.”‘
In fact, I would argue in a way, the Gibeonites themselves suggested their own servitude. They refer to themselves “we are your servants”.
Now to us modern Americans and I stress the words “modern Americans” and modern pampered entitled Americans at that, we would recoil at referring to ourselves as servants and offering ourselves as servants.
But these ancient Hivities lived in a far different time. In war you had three options. Win by killing. Die in battle. Or be taken as a slave in battle (after many already died). (Exod.21:1-36, Lev.25:44-46, Dt.24:7) Beloved, be on guard against imposing our modern thought on these ancient peoples.
Deuteronomy 20:10. When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace. 11 “If it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. 12 “However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 “When the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the men in it with the edge of the sword. 14 “Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you. 15 “Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations nearby. 16 “Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 “But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you,
In one way I very much feel for these people. When faced with certain death would we not be willing to part with even our liberties? And before you start quoting Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty of give me death” I want you to think of a few things.
Remember the starving Egyptians? They told Joseph, we will sell you our produce, our animals, our lands, and lastly, we will sell you our bodies, we will become Pharaoh’s slaves. Just keep us alive. (Gen.47:13-25)
This is not so strange. We ourselves in this country willingly gave up some of our liberties in 2020 and just a tiny faction compared with the Egyptians and the Gibeonites, in order to preserve our lives. Did we not? Yes we did.
Also think of this. Joshua did not impose upon them a universal kind of slavery. He did not say that every Gibeonite was a personal slave for every Israelite. He did not. Matthew Henry says that Joshua mitigated (lessened) V.21. what the elders suggested. Joshua made them servants in the tabernacle and temple. (Matthew Henry Commentaries, vol.2, p.44)
As an aside, I was not going to mention this, but I think I should. There are some people that have racists views that use this text as their prooftext why people with more melanin in their skin have to be slaves for people with less melanin in their skin. This is obnoxious to God. And it ought to be obnoxious to every true child of God.
Little children can have better theology than some adults. (Mt.18:3, Mt.19:14) Listen to this children’s song.
Jesus loves the little children.
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
No, I have not become an Arminian. 😊
All I will say to this is that the devil also quotes Scripture (wrongly) to tempt people into sin.
Remember Satan quoted or I should say misquoted the Bible by only quoting half a text and leaving off the other half to tempt Jesus to sin. (Mt.4:5-7) Let me read you the Psalm and see if you can see which part the devil “conveniently” left off. 😊
Psalm 91:11. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. 12 They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down. 14 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
Run from those that twist Scriptures to validate their hatred of their fellow man. (2 Pt.3:16) If you say that you love God whom you cannot see but you hate your brother that you can see, God says you are a liar. And liars do not inherit the kingdom of God. (I Jn.4:20, Rev.21:8-10)
V.23. They had a particular kind of slavery. They were slaves for the house of God, for the tabernacle and then later for the temple.
They drew the water for the house of God for all the ritual purifications, which the NT calls various “baptism” in Hebrews 9:10.
Hebrews 9:9. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.
And then they also cut the wood to provide fuel for all of the required fire upon the various altars and their related sacrifices.
The slavery was servitude to the Aaronical priests and to the Levitical priests as they performed their servitude unto the Lord! They were saved to save. Oh beloved what truth. We are saved to serve.
One man said this, this curse through God’s infinite mercy becomes the greatest blessing to these Gibeonites.
God took them that were far off and He drew them near, even through these very unique circumstances.
In a way, he said, they were given to God, to serve God. Their office was to serve the servants of the Lord in their service in the sanctuary. These Gibeonites were plucked from the fire. They were tokens of God’s sovereign saving amazing grace.
Oh Beloved, God truly does work in mysterious ways. Who can account for His providential hand guiding all His creatures and all their actions?
I have no doubt that their status as slaves was quite painful to bear. Most of us recoil if we are belittled and disdained and abused even in the least points.
They lived and died as servants of the Lord. Slaves slaving at hard labor. But all the while taken away from false gods and all the while being brought near to the true God.
What is a lifetime of hard servitude to the Lord and to the Lord’s people in light of the Lord’s goodness and mercy on us? He gave us life and not death. He gave His only begotten Son our death-bearer and death-remover. Jesus made a covenant of peace with us.
Jesus made Himself a servant of all. Jesus did far more that draw water and fetch wood. Christ took the wrath of almighty God for the enemies of God that in Him we might become the children of God.
And because of Christ we will all dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
And we will serve in His holy tabernacle forever.