Bible Study

Joshua 9:1-27


Observers have noted that certain kinds of ants have a passion for the sweet, glandular substance given off by the caterpillar of a large blue butterfly. They can become so “addicted” to it that they even seek out “the supplier” and carry him to their nest with delight. But they unwittingly bring home an enemy in disguise, for the caterpillar gorges himself exclusively on ant larva. Usually such a threat to the colony would be repelled with great vigor, but the adults enjoy the tasty secretions of the “guest” so much that they are oblivious of the fact that their young are being devoured in the process.

As I read this story of the foolish ants, I began to see a similarity between this story and what the Bible tells us about Joshua and Israel in Joshua chapter 9. In these verses, we see Israel becoming too friendly with their enemies.

The people of Israel have just defeated the city of Ai and are preparing to march deeper into Canaan as they claim the promised land which the Lord had given to them. As I said, they are fresh from a victory. In fact, they now have a couple of impressive victories under their belts. They have seen the great walled city of Jericho defeated and they have witnessed the pesky little town of Ai defeated too. However, before they will ever see another victory, Israel must learn a valuable lesson about becoming too friendly with the enemy.

In the battles and stories related to Israel’s conquest of Canaan, we can see a picture of our lives as children of God as we struggle to obtain the victory in our lives. As I look at the Bible’s record of these events, it is not too hard for me to see the parallels between the battles Israel fought in the flesh and the ones which we fight in the spirit. In fact, these cities that they have faced all teach us a spiritual lesson.

1. Jericho – A type of the world – It was defeated, and we have the promise of victory over the world in our walk with the Lord Jesus, 1 John 5:4, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

2. Ai – A type of the flesh – It, too, was defeated, and we have the promise of victory in the flesh as we battle for the Lord Jesus, Romans 7:24-25, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

3. Gibeon – A type of the devil – This is a battle that still must be fought. However, we have been promised victory in this area as well. To obtain it, we must trust the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in His will day by day. He can be defeated – James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Eventually, the devil will get exactly what he deserves! Rev. 20:1-10.

However, today, we must still contend with him. Fortunately, the Lord has not left us without a word in this matter. In this passage, that recounts Israel’s experience with the people of Gibeon, we can see a portrait of the devil and his devices. As we will see, there is a danger in becoming friendly with the enemy. 


Note verses 1-2. When all the kings of Canaan heard what had happened to Ai and to Jericho, they joined forces to seek to defeat Israel. Isn’t it amazing how the devil’s crowd will join up to fight God’s people? Just look at the way Jesus was treated by His enemies. The Pharisees and the Herodians hated one another, but they came together in the common effort of seeing Jesus put to death. Another friendship that was formed over the death of our Lord was that which was formed between Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate. We are still seeing these same kind of alliances formed in our day!

A. V. 4 He Uses Deceptive Wiles – When the Gibeonites heard that the Israelites were headed in their direction, they devised a scheme to trick Israel into making a peace treaty with them. They dressed in old clothes, carried old bread and wine and pretended that they were from far away. They did everything in their power to trick Israel.

What a picture of our enemy, the devil! The Bible tells us that we fight an enemy that uses “wiles” to get his way in our lives. The word “wiles” refers to “deceit, trickery, cunning arts.” You see friends, Satan would like nothing better than to trip you up and cause you to fall into one of his traps. 

Eph. 6:11 “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Just before Jesus died, He told Simon Peter that Satan desired to have him that he might sift him as wheat, Luke 22:31-32. Satan wants to do the same to you and me. He wants us to fall. He wants us to fail, and he will stop at nothing to bring that to pass. 1 Tim. 3:7 “ lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” tells us that Satan uses “snares” to catch his prey. This word refers to a trap set by a hunter in order that he might capture his prey. So, Satan uses deceptive wiles, just like the people of Gibeon did. 

B. V. 4-5 He Uses Deceptive Wares – The Gibeonites had taken every step possible to deceive Israel into believing that they were from a far away country. They carried old sacks on their donkeys, broken and bound up wine skins, patched shoes shabby clothing and even some moldy bread. Their entire aim was to trick Israel.

When the devil comes to you in temptation, or to trip you up, he does not do so in a red suit with a pointy tail and horns. He will not be carrying a pitchfork and he will not smell like sulphur. When the devil comes to your life to cause you trouble, he will appear as an angel of light, 2 Cor. 11:14. He will make his plan appear to be the perfect thing for your life. So, beware of every impulse that comes down the line. Check out everything by the Word of God and by the will of God and the Lord will always lead you in the right way!

C. V. 6-13 He Uses Deceptive Words – Notice that in these verses, these men from Gibeon lied, v. 6, 9, 11-12; they used claimed to be something they were not, v. 8-9; and they were careful in what they referred to, v. 10 They did not mention anything that had happened since Israel had crossed Jordan, giving the impression that they had indeed been traveling for a very long time.

Again, this is a perfect picture of our enemy, the devil. He will use slick and enticing speech to get you to yield to his plans for your life. He practiced this kind of trickery in the Garden of Eden when he talked to Eve, Gen. 3:1-6. He told her that she could question God’s Word, v. 1; He told her that God did not really mean what God has said, v. 3; He told her that God was really just holding out on her, v. 5. In other words, the devil will give you every reason in the world to justify the things he wants you to do. Then when you have followed him and are out of God’s will and in trouble, he will discard you like a piece of trash and leave you to rot in your sins!

I wonder:

1. Just what did the devil tell Cain to get him to kill Abel?

2. Just what did the devil tell David to get him to sleep with Bathsheba?

3. Just what did the devil tell Judas to get him to betray the Lord Jesus?

4. Just what has the devil told you in the past; and what is he telling you now?

2 Cor. 2:11 “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” tells us that Satan desires to gain an “advantage” over us and to do this, he will use every trick in the book to get us to follow him into failure. Be careful! 1 Peter 5:8 tells us what the devil is up to everyday. He wants you. He wants your family. He wants your testimony. He wants your church. If you have it and it’s from the Lord, he wants it, and to get it, he will do anything!

I. The Enemy Can Be Deceptive


A. V. 14 Their Ability To See Clearly Was Disrupted – Notice that in verse 7, Joshua initially was a little skeptical of these so-called ambassadors. He questioned them about their origin again in verse 8. Joshua is to be commended for his caution, but he gave up just a little too soon! When the Gibeonites showed him their clothes, their food and the broken wineskins, Joshua was more than impressed and he believed their story!

If the Lord has done anything for His children, He has given us a perfect Book and powerful Spirit. These two items give us a distinct advantage when it comes to fighting the devil! Using the Bible and the inner leading of the Spirit of God, we can do what 1 Pet. 5:8 says and we can be “sober and vigilant“. These words carry the idea of being in control of ourselves and of being watchful. You do not have to fall for everything the devil tells you! He is a liar and the father of it, John 8:44. Hey folks, we do not have to fall into his traps! Thank God ,we can walk in victory over the devil if we will be sober and vigilant!

When your spiritual vision gets dim through neglect of the Word of God and prayer, you are very susceptible to the tricks and traps of the enemy. It is impossible to have the victory over him when we neglect the very things which are designed to make us strong! The Bible tells us in Eph. 4:27, that we are not to give “place” to the devil in our lives. This word refers to a beachhead. If we give the devil room in our lives to attack us, you can count on the fact that he will. We must always be on guard to avoid his attacks. Don’t even let him have so much as a foot in the door!

B. V. 14 Their Ability To Seek Counsel Was Disrupted – Notice that Israel ate with the Gibeonites and did not even take the matter to the Lord in prayer. To break bread with someone in that day was considered to be a sign of unalterable friendship. But what they considered to be the right thing to do turned into a problem because they did not take the time to take the matter to the Lord in prayer first and neither did they take the time to wait on His answer. As a result, they stepped out of the will of God and had to suffer the consequences!

How many times has this been true in your life and mine? We look at what the devil has to offer us and we join up with him without even seeking the Lord’s will in the matter. At other times, we stack the deck in our favor so that even the Lord’s attempts to speak to us and change our direction are made to appear like His blessings on our decision. I am trying to tell you this morning that you need to be sure that it is the Lord’s voice you are listening to and not the devil’s or even that of your own flesh! God will is that we seek His face and that we give Him time to give us His answer! What does the Lord say? Ex. 14:13; “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…“; Isa. 40:31, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.“; Psalm 27:14, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” 

Well, you get the idea! God expects His people to seek His will and wait on His answer!

C. V. 15-21 Their Ability To Stay Clean Was Disrupted – In these verses, we see that the Israelites ability to be a separate people before the Lord was marred by their decision to make a league with the Gibeonites. God had told them to utterly destroy the inhabitants and to make no covenants with them at all, Deut 7:2, “And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:” However, Israel disobey this command and as a result they sinned before the Lord.

Before we judge them too harshly, let’s look at ourselves for a minute. How many times have we been guilty of following Satan instead of the Lord? The Word of God plainly tells us what the Lord’s will is for our lives, 2 Cor. 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,“. Yet, all too often, we will allow the flesh, the word and the devil distract us and defeat us.

Don’t think it can happen to you? Just ask David, the sweet singer of Israel, the man after God’s own heart, what the devil can do to your life. You follow the devil and you, like David might find yourself in a place of prayer begging God just to restore the joy of your heart and life, Psa. 51:12 “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; ” 

Don’t let that happen in your life! Take the steps that are necessary to defeat the devil and walk in victory!

I. The Enemy Can Be Deceptive

II. The Enemy Can Be Disruptive


A. V. 22 The Enemy Must Be Confronted – When Joshua found out what these people had done, he went straight to them and rebuked them and confronted them about their sins.

We do not have to roll over and play dead while the devil molds us to his will! We need to be like the Lord Jesus, Who when He was tempted turned to the Word of God and confronted Satan with the truth of the Book and caused the devil to have to flee from His presence! Satan cannot stand in the presence of the truth! If you will confront him with the Word of God, he will leave you alone!

B. V. 27 The Enemy Must Be Controlled – There is no question that Joshua and Israel made a mistake when they dealt with the Gibeonites. However, mistakes to not have to spell permanent ruin. Joshua realized the seriousness of what they had done and he immediately took the necessary steps to control the situation. They can’t kill them, because they have given them their word, v. 19. but they can control them!

In your life and mine, there will be times when we will step out of the Lord’s will and commit sin. That is just a fact! However, the mistakes we make in following the devil do not have to be permanent, neither do they have to destroy us completely! Thank God, the Lord has promised us complete forgiveness and restoration if we will return to Him in repentance, 1 John 1:9. We must face the fact that our sins carry consequences that must play out completely, Gal. 6:9, yet we can get right with the Lord and we can serve Him faithfully.

We need to learn from our sins and our failures so that we do not fall into those same traps again! Either we will control our sins, or they will control us! Which it is depends on you and what you want from life. There is forgiveness where there is repentance!

C. V. 27 The Enemy Must Be Commissioned – Notice what Israel did with the Gibeonites. They took them and they put them to work carrying water and chopping wood for the Tabernacle of the Lord. Joshua took his mistake and used it for the glory of the Lord! The Bible even indicates that these people eventually got right with God and were absorbed into the nation of Israel – 2 Sam 21:2-6. Joshua took his error and used it for God!

Will you and I fail the Lord as we go through life? Probably, and often! However, our sins and mistakes do not have to knock us out of the Lord’s work! When we fail we need to allow the Lord to use that time of sin, chastisement, correct, repentance and restoration in our lives for His glory. What the devil meant for your defeat can be turned into the source of your greatest victories, if you will allow the Lord to have His way in your mistakes. You can’t undo the things you have done, but you can bring them to Jesus and He can use them to help you grow in Him. What first looked like a curse to the people of God eventually turned into a blessing as these people were brought to the Lord and lived their lives serving God!

Victory Baptist Church 04 November 2020