On December 1st last year, I posted on “Harsh Words”. Betrayal. Trial. Denial. Today, we add another harsh word: Deception. What comes to mind when you think of the word deception? Have you ever been deceived? I imagine the answer is yes. I can think of a number of instances of deception in my life, some very harmful. I could get worked up just thinking about one particular deceptive friendship (or so I thought it was a friendship.)
In the case of today’s story, it’s an interesting twist. The strategy of deception was used so that the Gibeonites would not be attacked. They heard what Joshua and the Israelites had done to other cities, Jordan and Ai, and people. Instead of joining with the larger forces and Kings west of the Jordan (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites) to fight the Israelites, they decided to use a plan of deception. They weighed the option of joining, fighting and possibly failing, and they went into submissive mode, acting as if they had nothing, even their bread was rotten, “dry and moldy”. Woe is me (us). They went right into the Israelite camp and pretended they were something they were not. They lied about where they came from, saying they were from far away when they were not. They wanted a treaty so as not to be killed. The Gibeonites decided living as servants was a better life than not living at all. An interesting strategy.
How many times in life do we see people act a certain way to get attention or recognition, either positive or negative but just to get people to take notice and validate who they are? Do you know people who exaggerate the truth, outlive their incomes, flaunt their clothes, jewelry or travel, talk about themselves constantly, all to get attention or to get ahead? The people who will say whatever they think others want to hear? Do you know people who pull the “Woe is me” card to gather either money or sympathy or attention or “likes” on social media? Trickery.
I love the way Joshua handles the situation when he finds out he has been deceived: “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? 2”
He calls them out. Do you feel like calling people out sometimes? Why did you exaggerate or not tell the truth about your whereabouts? Hopefully a lesson I have taught my kids, but one of them in particular had to learn the hard way (see the image at the top of this post for how I felt!). Is it really worth not telling the truth and trying to deceive me? I always find out. To me, it’s best to tell the truth, be real, even if you may not receive favor or if you may get in trouble or if you won’t get ahead at work. If you deceive someone, then when does it stop? You have to continue to play games.
It would have been interesting to see if Joshua would have had mercy on the Gibeonites if they had arrived, saying “we are here, don’t kill us, we want to have a treaty, what can we do?“ Rather they presented themselves as being in great need and traveling from far away. Joshua did not kill them but his punishment was harsh. 3 You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”
Some of the Gibeonites might have been ok living like servants rather than dying in a battle with the other great armies. However, a better strategy could have been telling the truth. Would they have been allowed to live differently?
As we carry out our daily lives, this lesson is a good reminder to be real. Be yourself. Don’t lead people down false paths. Don’t “dress to impress”. Don’t use the “woe is me” card. Don’t worry about “likes”. Do your best at work by being honest with thoughts and actions. God loves you just the way you are and so do we!