Summary: 16th in series on Joshua. This talks about compromise, and avoiding it by listening to God’s voice.
Joshua 9:1-26 – Making Deals with the Devil
A New York family bought a ranch out West where they intended to raise cattle. Friends visited and asked if the ranch had a name.
“Well,” said the would-be cattleman, “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one son liked the Flying-W, and the other wanted the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the Bar-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.”
“I get it. But I don’t see any of your cattle. Where are they?” the friends asked.
“None of them survived the branding.”
You know, sometimes compromise is good. Some things are not battles that should be fought. Some things should be ignored for the sake of higher causes.
But not everything is. Some battles are very worthwhile. Some battles should not be compromised at all. For example, if, say, 99% were good enough, we would have no phone service for 15 minutes each day. 1.7 million pieces of first class mail would be lost each day. 35,000 newborn babies would be dropped by doctors or nurses each year. 200,000 people would get the wrong drug prescriptions each year. We would have unsafe drinking water three days a year. And two million people would die from food poisoning each year. That’s if 99% were good enough.
Compromise is a dangerous thing. I picture compromise as making a deal with the devil. Not all compromises. If a husband wants to eat at Ponderosa and the wife wants to eat at Subway, they should eat at Subway. That is not a fight worth fighting. When it comes to the basics of our faith, however, those are fights worth fighting.
Joshua and the Israelites made a compromise not worth making. Let’s read ch.9. So here’s the story. Joshua’s reputation was spreading far and wide. This put fear in the hearts of people, and one group decided to do something about it. They chose not to make an alliance with the other groups living in the land about to be conquered, but they chose a ruse – a trick, a deceit. Even though they lived only about 15 miles away, in 4 cities, the Gibeonites claimed to be from far away.
Now, whether or not they knew this fact, God told Moses in Deut.20 that the Israelites should offer peace treaties to cities far away. So, they walked in to the Israelite camp, and were able to make a deal with them. The problem was, it was a lie. They weren’t from far away. Even worse, they were part of a group – the Hivites – that God told Joshua to destroy.
But God’s people made a deal with them anyway. They said, “OK, we won’t attack you.” Then, they found out they were actually supposed to attack and destroy them. I imagine a collective smack to the forehead as they realized what they had done.
So where did they go wrong? V14: “The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.” They didn’t ask the Lord what He thought about the situation. He didn’t ask Him what He wanted them to do. They just did what seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was far from it.
This was the compromise. This was giving in to a lesser cause. Chuck Swindoll said, “The swift wind of compromise is a lot more devastating than the sudden jolt of misfortune.” And that’s true. These guys surrendered a battle they should not have surrendered. This was a battle they should have fought.
But they didn’t know that. They didn’t ask the Lord about how serious it was. And that’s where we get messed up with compromise, too. We don’t know what we are doing because we fall for the lies the world spews out at us. Look: their lack of godly decision making, their compromise, came from 3 things:
1) They relied too much on their senses. They saw the bread, they saw, the supplies, they saw the clothes, and they used that information to make their decision. Not to say we should never use what God gave us, but we also need to know they will fail us. We cannot figure out what God wants for us by using sight, hearing, touchy, tasting or smelling. God’s plans go beyond what you can see.
2) They relied too much on common sense. After all, it was reasonable that someone would come from far away to make a peace treaty. It made sense. And though there is a place for common sense in the faith, they don’t always run the same direction. It’s only common sense for 2 people in love to end up doing physical things together. But faith says it’s not good. Using only common sense to figure out what God wants will always lead to bad decisions and compromise.