Summary: Don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him. God directs us to His perfect will.
Have you ever been deceived? I have, a couple of times.
We have people walking into the church and asking for help. They tell you their sad stories, the great need they are in, and ask for money. It’s really difficult to tell, most of the time, if they are saying the truth.
I remembered this one young man who came into my office with a sad story. As he was telling it he was choking with emotions and started to cry. It was so real. Mucus was flowing and I have to give him tissues to clean up. I finally gave him some cash, my can of digestive biscuits and a new towel.
About two weeks later, I just happened to be chatting with my friend, a fellow pastor from another church and he mentioned this young man. We shared information and concluded that it was the same man – the same look and the same story. We had the same visitor, and we were conned.
The Gibeonites lived nearby, in the territory of Canaan, designated for destruction according to the Word of God, because of their wickedness.
• They are enemies of Israel, not to be friends of Israel. But they came disguising themselves and seeking to make peace.
• This is not the plan of God but Israel fell for it. They are deceived into thinking these people come from a far country.
It wasn’t just Joshua being fooled. The Bible says the men of Israel were there.
• They are likely the leaders of Israel, which includes the leaders of the tribes, plus the priests and elders. Joshua AND his leaders were cheated.
• Having more people does not necessarily ensure a right decision. Being leaders (knowledgeable and likely with certain experience) do not necessarily mean you will make good decisions.
Why were they gullible? What caused them to fall into this trap? We don’t have to guess. The Bible tells us plainly and a matter-of-factly.
• 9:14 "The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord."
• They interrogated the people, they listened to their fabricated story, they looked at their worn-out clothes and sandals, and examined their bread, BUT.
• They did all these things, but NOT the ONE THING they should have done: Seek God for His take on this. “They did not inquire of the Lord.” They did not seek counsel from God.
This is so true for many of us, including myself. When we are faced with an issue, we look at all the angles, evaluate the evidences, and do everything else BUT speak to the One who knows everything.
• Only when something bad happened, because of our wrong judgement, then we come to the Lord and seek Him for help.
• At that time, it is not to seek Him for direction; we seek Him to ratify the faults.
We behave just like these leaders – we judge by sight and not live by faith in the Word of God. We listen to what men have to say, but not what God has to said.
For our applications today, I will use the memory verse from last Sun DG time - Proverbs 3:5-6.
1. DON’T LEAN ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING
The Lord is not saying DON’T USE our understanding or intellect. God has given us a good mind and we are to use it.
• But don’t LEAN on your own understanding. Don’t depend only upon your own judgement. Our understanding is limited and imperfect.
• Even prophets can make mistakes if they depend only on their own reasoning.
I give you 2 examples from Scriptures.
1. Prophet Samuel was asked to anoint a son of Jesse as the future King of Israel.
• 1 Sam 16:6 “When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord.”
• But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him'" (16:7).
• God said it. He must have looked good, a stature fit to be a King. Samuel says, “Here is the man!" and God says, “This is not the man!”
Then God reveals the truth – “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
• This is what the Lord says of you and me. It cannot be wrong. We know it is true because we do that all the time. We base our judgement on what we can see.
• We can only look at the outward and judge from its appearance. Obviously there is a danger here. It is wise for us to recognise it.
2. Prophet Nathan when King David told him he wanted to build a temple for God.