There have always been charlatans willing to use the name of the Lord to gain some advantage for themselves. Many have labeled themselves “Christian Business Men” in order to land a certain contract, but in the ensuing months they have proven to lack excellence and integrity.
Such counterfeit worshipers are what we see in Joshua 9. Here, the inhabitants of Gibeon pretend interest in Israel’s God. They do so in order to deceive and prosper.
Joshua 9:1-11 As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon … heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel. But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us … From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, ‘We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.””
However, their false religious posturing would have been discovered had Israel’s leaders been more wise and diligent in praying. Scripture records the sad commentary:
Joshua 9:14–15 So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.
Friends, in making decisions, how often do we take into consideration:
- The majority opinion – “Most people say …”
- The expert opinion – “The professionals say …”
- The win-win solution – “Trying to keep everyone happy, I decided …”
- The traditional opinion – “What we have always done is …”
- Scientific investigation – “After researching and studying all the options …”
- Our first inclination – “I didn’t think much about it, I just felt …”
- Our strongest desire – “I just followed my heart and …”
Much of what is stated above legitimate. It is good to consider the insight of people — especially experts, and it is good to honor our fathers and learn from the past. It is good to research, study, and think deeply. Some times, even our first inclinations and strongest desires are helpful, but there is one thing missing:
- Proverbs 3:5–6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
- James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
God graces his people with wisdom as they pray weekly. This is why we have corporate services in the House of Prayer on the Lord’s Day and at other times. He further graces his people as they pray daily. Daily, Christians are to ask for their “daily bread,” and minute by minute, throughout the entire day, they are to enjoy sweet communion in the Spirit:
- Psalm 34:1 I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
- Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
- Ephesians 6:18 Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
- Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
It was Matthew Henry who said, “A golden thread of heart-prayer must run through the web of the whole Christian life; we must be frequently addressing ourselves to God in short and sudden cries, by which we must keep up our communion with God in providences and common actions, as well as in ordinances and religious services … our eyes must be ever towards the Lord.”
It has also been said that the quantity of time a person spends in prayer is directly proportionate to the felt need of that individual. The humble one who sees his great need, and sees his Great God, is the one who spends great time in prayer.
Great Humility + Great God = Great Prayer
So today, as we find ourselves making decisions about business, ministry, education, health, family matters, relationships, priorities, etc …, let us research, study, evaluate, think, feel, believe, and respond without anxiety, but let us do all the above while we read the scriptures and meditate with the Spirit. Let us pray!