The Covenant with the Gibeonites

Text: Joshua 9:3-15

After Israel left Egypt, they were warned not to make any covenant with the people of Canaan (Deuteronomy 7:1-2). But after conquering just two cities (Jericho and Ai), they made a covenant with the Gibeonites. Though they were deceived, this was still a failure on their part and would come with consequences.

Why the Gibeonites Proposed the Covenant

  • They feared the Israelites (Joshua 9:24) – even though this put them at odds with other nations (Joshua 9:1-2) and their own brethren (Joshua 9:1,7), they believed they had a better chance of survival with Israel than against them
  • We could call them cowards… but on the other hand, they had a degree of faith (Joshua 9:9-10,24) – but if they wanted to dwell among Israel, they needed to submit to God’s law (Leviticus 24:22), not deceive Israel into tolerating their presence (Joshua 9:23)
  • Application: We must believe based upon what we have heard (Romans 10:17) – we must believe the word which was confirmed by miracles (John 17:20; Hebrews 2:3-4) because God will not speak directly to us or perform miracles for us today
  • Application: A saving faith is one that submits to God’s conditions of pardon (James 2:14,17,24) – salvation comes by doing God’s will, not our own (Romans 2:6-8)

Why the Israelites Entered into the Covenant

  • The Israelites were commanded not to enter into a covenant with the inhabitants of Canaan (Deuteronomy 7:2) – they remembered this commandment and were reluctant at first (Joshua 9:7)
  • But what about people who were (allegedly) from outside of Canaan? … they should have sought the Lord’s counsel (Joshua 9:14) before judging the covenant as “safe”
  • Application: On every question, consult the word of God (Isaiah 8:20; Romans 4:3)
  • Application: Beware of spiritually hazardous relationships that appear “safe” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) – family (Matthew 10:35-36), brethren (Galatians 2:4), preachers (Romans 16:17-18), churches of Christ (Revelation 2:4-5)

Consequences for Entering into the Covenant

  • The most obvious consequence is that they sinned against God (Deuteronomy 7:2)
  • Additionally, they were bound by an oath to protect the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:15,19) – when the Gibeonites were attacked, the Israelites were obligated to defend them (Joshua 10:6-7)
  • Application: The violation of God’s law is sin (1 John 3:4) – apostasy often comes by being deceived (1 Timothy 4:1), but it is still apostasy; no excuse
  • Application: Such unapproved relationships can hinder our service to God (Matthew 10:34-37) – serving the Lord must come first (Matthew 6:24,33)

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