Joshua 9:14 “The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.”
How do you go about making decisions? Every day we are faced with choices. Sometimes the answer may be just a matter of preference, but other times the outcomes of our choices are crucial. Often we tend to think that the results of our decisions will only affect us, but this is far from the truth. The choices we make often create a ripple effect that spreads far beyond our personal borders. This is especially true for leaders.
Joshua found this out the hard way after experiencing a resounding victory over the city of Jericho. Remember the story of how the Israelites marched around the strong city walls 7 times? On the final parade around the city, God caused the walls to topple and the city was taken. In following God’s explicit instructions, Joshua led the young nation in an amazing triumph.
The next battle was not so glorious. Riding on the tail of the victory at Jericho, Joshua charged ahead to Ai. There is no record that he stopped to ask God for guidance in how to take this city. Much to his dismay the army was soundly defeated in a humiliating rout. Later, in utter devastation Joshua tore his clothes and inquired of the Lord what went wrong. He was told that there was sin in the camp that had kept the young Israelite nation from winning the battle.
How could Joshua have known this? The sinner was one man among thousands of men. Joshua couldn’t have known . . . but God did. If Joshua had only taken the time to speak to God about how to approach this new city of Ai, I believe God would have revealed the sin problem to him. Unfortunately, the negligence of this great leader led to the unnecessary death of thirty-six men. Many families grieved that night when their husbands, fathers, and brothers did not come home.
I wish I could say that Joshua learned his lesson right away, but he didn’t. Two chapters later, after another try at Ai resulted in a complete win, this leader again forgot to inquire of the Lord. The people of Gibeon, a neighboring city, had heard of all that Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai. They disguised themselves as foreigners by dressing in ragged clothes and carrying moldy bread. Upon reaching Israel, they asked to make a peace treaty with the nation. The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.
Again, they made a decision without knowing all the facts. God had promised them the whole land of Canaan, but now they made a promise to these neighbors that would keep them from taking the city of Gibeon as God had desired. The Bible says that the whole assembly grumbled against the leaders when they found out about this blunder. In our culture today there probably would have been a whole lot of posts, tweets, and instagrams decrying the leadership of these men. Again, it was all because they did not stop to ask God to show them what they did not know and to guide them in their decisions. What a pity!
But before we are too hard on Joshua, we must ask ourselves whether we pray and ask God to guide us in all our decisions. Why not learn from Joshua’s mistakes? Whether it is a big decision like choosing a marriage partner or what major to pursue in college or whether to participate in what looks like a good activity, remember that your heavenly Father sees all and knows all. Go to Him when you are faced with difficult choices. It will save you and those around you a lot of heartache.