This is an excellent post by Manu and if you missed it the first time around then I recommend a read. It is about Moses, Miriam and Aaron and the effect of sibling rivalry, envy and unhealthy comparisons. God takes action. As members of one body and brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus we need to avoid these destructive forces and their sinful trap. God is not pleased when we act in such ways.
A place you cannot see; your view is obstructed; an area your understanding or knowledge is weak – sometimes because we are unwilling to try – Cambridge definitions
Jesus warns us about two examples of blind spots and these bible verses will be familiar to us.
“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42
How often do we read that verse and put ourselves in the position of the brother with the speck in our eye rather than the one with the log? I know I have. You’d think a log would be pretty obvious but that’s the point of a “blind spot”. We just don’t see the log. We’re blinded to it. It’s dangerous. Not just for us but to those we affect because we aren’t aware of the log.
Jesus also pointed out blind spots to one of the churches in Revelation.
In our bibles, it is often noted that this is a “lukewarm” church – neither hot or cold. One of the definitions of a “blind spot’ is an area or subject that we are weak in because we can’t be bothered to apply ourselves to understanding or learning. That sounds a lot like apathy.
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent”. Revelation 3 14-19
We can read these verses and again fail to see that we could be this lukewarm church or in fact any of the churches that Jesus rebukes.
I have my blind spots and I too need Jesus’ eye salve to anoint the eyes of my heart that I can see clearly. Holy Spirit what are you saying to me in these things. May I see and hear clearly. Remove the obstacles Lord.
As I have meditated on these things I wrote the following, it might help you too if this post has struck a chord with you.
There are blind spots in your heart. These are spots that you do not see or want to see. They are the stains of hurts, stains of pain and anguish. Buried deep in hearts. Spots of sorrow and grief, spots of anger, spots of pride, rejection and bitterness. Blinded to them, Blinded by them. They are your blind spots.
Blind spots need to be BEHIND spots. Things to put behind you; forgetting the past and straining forward towards the high prize in Christ Jesus – the hope of glory.
Blind spots become BIND spots. They bind your thoughts. They bind your behaviours. They bind your hearts. They bind your minds. They are blind spots to the TRUTH.
Uncover the blind spots. Seek the blind spots and open the eyes of your heart to the truth. Open the eyes of your heart to grace, mercy and righteousness; to love in all its fulness. Then the love spots of your heart to overflow in love.
May the grace of God, the knowledge of the Son grow in us more and more. May we be blinded by the light of His glory, blinded by the light of His grace, Blinded by the light of His mercy.
Blinded by His light..the light of the world. The bright morning star.
Blinded by the light of His glory. Amen
Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. John 9:35 -38
These verses from John’s gospel tell the story of the man who had been blind from birth but was miraculously healed by Jesus. This poor man who had lived his life until this moment in complete darkness, not able to see anything of the world around him, was given the gift of sight.
This is the miracle that this man could probably never have imagined being possible. It was unthinkable, he received his sight. Not his sight back as he had never seen before, but the ability to see what was previously hidden from him.
The greatest and happiest day of his life then becomes one of rejection.
The religious leaders of the day who are offended by his healing on a Sabbath question him about Jesus. When he does not answer in the way they want then they cruelly excommunicate him from the temple. This is a terrible thing to do in the Jewish society of the day. He is now an outcast.
This story of rejection after encountering Jesus may be one that is familiar to you from your own experiences. If so, then I hope these verses bring encouragement and hope to you.
This man’s story doesn’t end in rejection as we see from the verses. Jesus hears what has happened and actively seeks him out until He finds Him. Jesus shows such compassion and concern for this man that He actively looks for him until He finds him. Jesus does not reject him. This is such a beautiful picture to me. Jesus cares.
Jesus came to seek the lost and this is what He does for this man. This man had regained his physical sight but then lost His place to worship God in the Synagogue. Jesus comes and seeks him out to now give Him spiritual sight and show the truth about who Jesus is. Jesus reveals Himself..the Son of God.
Physical blindness must be terrible but spiritual blindness is even worse. Jesus wants this man to see the truth about who He is. Jesus introduces this man to the Son of God. He gives this man the opportunity to believe in Him. This man wants to believe and confesses his faith in Jesus. He then worships Jesus as God as he is now able to worship God in Spirit and in truth because of Christ.
This man was given his physical sight but then was given His spiritual sight which is the most precious gift of all. The tragedy is that those in the temple who had cast him out were still spiritually blind to the truth. They did not see Jesus for who He truly was. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Our prayer today: from Ephesians 1 that we may know Christ and our understanding of Him is enlightened.
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in”
The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand by Jesus has much to teach us today. The story is told in all four gospels. This verse from Mark’s gospel stood out to me.
“But He (Jesus) answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” Mark.6.37
To set the context. The disciples have just come back from a mission where they have done incredible things with the authority and power that Jesus gave them. Now there’s a problem which they have brought to Jesus’ attention expecting Him to do something. It’s not a miracle they are expecting but something practical. This large crowd of 5000 men (not counting the women and children) needs food so we need to send them away to buy it and be fed elsewhere.
Jesus has a different plan though. His plan is much bigger.
Jesus said to them. “You feed them”.
I don’t think the disciples were expecting that and it threw them into a bit of a panic. How on earth did Jesus expect them to do that. It would cost a fortune to feed that many people.
Jesus is saying the same thing to His followers today.
Can you hear His Voice. …You, My disciples, you Feed them.
There are principles in this story that Jesus is teaching us:
Firstly, recognise the needs around us. Don’t bury our heads in the sand or navel gaze. Notice what’s going on.
The disciples recognised the need. The people had been with them a long time, there was no food, it was a lonely place. Action was needed. Once the disciples recognised the need they had a choice in how to respond.
They could ignore it, pretend the need didn’t exist, turn a blind eye or turn the people away hungry to go and find food somewhere else. Thankfully, they took the need to Jesus.
Always take the need to Jesus in prayer. He will provide.
Just like the disciples, we need to recognise the needs around us. I think we can agree that there is so much need in people and society today. They are hungry. Not just in real hunger terms but also an emotional and spiritual hunger too. People try all sorts of things to satisfy that hunger. Jesus is the answer.
Isaiah 55 says “why do you spend money for the things that don’t satisfy?”
Sometimes the real need is not so obvious. The disciples noticed the physical hunger but Jesus saw the deeper need in the people. The people were lost..that is why they were following Him and sacrificing so much to listen to His words. They wanted more. They needed a shepherd…Jesus had such great compassion for them which motivated His desire to help them.
Who can we be a shepherd for today? We have our chief Shepherd in Jesus, our Pastors who shepherd us but God may be calling you to be a shepherd of some lambs or sheep.
Jesus broke the bread that was brought to him.
There are some things that have to be broken first in our lives before we can meet the needs of others. It could be pride, fear, apathy, anxiety, greed, insecurity or many other barriers to stepping out to help others. Sometimes, we can have the wrong attitude towards people…thinking they don’t deserve our help but the Lord has compassion on all. Who are we to stand in the way if the Lord wants to minister to that need.
The psalmist spelled out how many people feel: ‘No one is concerned for me … no one cares’ (Psalm 142:4 NIV).
Jesus cares and wants us to show His care and compassion to the world around us today. We are His disciples.
Let’s be the ones who feed the hungry today.
Bless you my friends.
“And He (Jesus) opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke.24.45
Understanding what we read or hear is so important. We can have knowledge but no understanding. When I look at a car engine I can know some of the different components, but I am not a trained mechanic or engineer who understands how the engine works. I can have knowledge about parts of the human body, but I don’t have the level of understanding that a Doctor or biologist has about how the body works.
As followers of Christ, we can all at times wrestle with passages of scripture and not understand the bible verses we read fully. We can read a lot but that knowledge won’t help us if we don’t understand it. Understanding the Scriptures is necessary so that we can apply them to shape the life of obedience we are called to live in Christ. This is especially important to avoid being deceived when Scripture is taken out of context and misapplied. Understanding in these days is so necessary to avoid the trap of false teaching and deceit.
Quite often (especially when we are new to faith) the bible can seem overwhelming to read. You might be someone who struggles with reading and it’s difficult to find the desire to start. There are so many books in the bible, the Old Testament, the New Testament..what do I read. Do I start at Genesis and work through? How much should I read at once? It’s in those times that we can feel defeated reading the scriptures and give up. If we don’t start out by reading the right passages at the right level for us and we dive right into the meaty parts before we are ready, then we can struggle and give up altogether. Start reading the Bible in the right place for you..if you are not sure where to start then don’t be shy to ask – your church leader or a fellow believer will help you.
If you find reading the Bible difficult then can I encourage you that help is at hand. The bible tells us this through this wonderful verse in Luke. The first disciples and followers of Jesus were as we know a collection of people from all walks of life – fishermen, tax collectors etc. They were simple men and women of faith who were not trained in the Scriptures to the level that the Pharisees and other teachers of the law were. However, And He (Jesus) opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke.24.45
Jesus took the time to help them understand the Scriptures. One of the first things that Jesus did when He was resurrected was to explain to the two disciples on the road the Scriptures. He helped them understand the Scriptures about the Messiah which He had fulfilled in his death and resurrection. That’s how important us understanding God’s Word is to Him. He wants to help. Jesus through the Holy Spirit that is now living within you, the Lord will help you understand the Scriptures. He wrote them after all so there is no better place to start. Right to the source.
Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you understanding as you read the Word of God. Even down to – Where does the Lord want me to start or which verse, passage should I read today. The Lord knows the best place.
You might be thinking how will I know. Take that first step. Pick up your bible and pray a simple prayer. Lord, I want to read and understand the scriptures. Help me today. Guide me in my reading and help my understanding. Amen
Next find someone that you can read the Bible with and discuss what you learn. That will help you in your learning and make sure that you stay on track in a good way. Reading the Bible with others is so beneficial as the Holy Spirit inspires and opens our understanding of the Word together.
“Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things” 2Tim.2.7
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”. Matthew 5 11-12
These bible verses are the verses for today on the Bible Gateway app. It was the first thing I read this morning. Persecution was something the Lord laid on my heart yesterday and I shared a post Persecuted….
Coincidence? I don’t believe so. It caught my attention. When I read these bible verses again today, I know the Holy Spirit is bringing this subject to my heart. Is the Lord preparing me personally or those I know or you dear reader to be ready for persecution because of faith in Christ Jesus.
These verses from the gospel of Matthew are Jesus’s words to his followers. Jesus knows that they will be persecuted because the world will hate their message but Jesus has prepared them for this time of persecution and has also prayed for them. Jesus does not leave them alone either when He returns to the Father but promises to always be with them and us to the end of time and also sends the Holy Spirit to empower, teach and comfort us.
Before Jesus died He prayed for His disciples but not only them, He said a prayer for us too. His disciples to come. That always amazes me that in a time of great suffering and knowing what lay ahead of Him, Jesus chose to pray for us. I know from Jesus’ teaching that His prayer will have been heard by God and answered. That gives me great comfort and hope. Not only that, but we know that even now Jesus intercedes for us before the Father’s throne.
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
We are through faith in Christ at one with God. The love of God for us and in us. What or who can separate us from the love of God. Can persecution or suffering? No. The scriptures declare this truth.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:“For Your sake we are killed all day long;We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
My friend Dean at Gospel Road 66 is writing a series about prayer for the persecuted church. It is a reminder to us all that persecution is happening amongst the body of believers with some of our brothers and sisters in Christ facing incredible levels of hardship and physical sufferings and death for the sake of their faith. You can find his first post here Praying for the Persecuted Church
The Apostle Paul says in many of his letters that he never ceased thanking God and praying for the saints. Today can I encourage you to take 5 to thank God for our brothers and sisters around the world and to pray for those who are being persecuted for their faith.
1 Thessalonians 3 v 12-13 says “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all; just as we do to you so that He (God) may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints”.
Genuine love for one another…it’s a command of the Lord Jesus and a sign to non-believers.
Someone wrote “where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding and conflicts abound to satan’s perverse delight“.
We can’t opt out of loving one another if we are followers of Jesus – it was Christ’s commandment to us – to love each other as He loved us.
We recall Jesus’ teaching at the last supper. This was his last opportunity to talk to His disciples before He went to the Cross. Jesus reiterates 4 times His new commandment to love one another.
Jesus didn’t remind the disciples of all the great miracles and signs they had witnessed – it was love which was important.
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 15:12-14,17 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”
Jesus said “if you love me then you will obey my commandments.”
1 John 2 v3-6 sets it out plainly to us:
“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
1John 3:11 “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. “
How can we love each other in this way. I think it is impossible without a genuine love for Christ ablaze in our hearts.
Do we struggle to genuinely love each other in churches because we have lost our first love for Christ. We strive to love through our flesh rather than an overflow from our hearts. Let us encourage each other to prioritise expressing our love for Jesus in our times of gathering together.
It’s a perfect circle of love – we love Christ and He is our first love then out of this love will flow love for one another. Let us start with love for God first and then allow His love to flow through us.
We could try and manufacture this love for one another. We could perhaps do it for a while but it will stagnate and eventually die – this Christ like love should develop as fruit out of relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Romans 5:5 “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us and love is created in us by the Holy Spirit”
Let us not strive to love in our own strength and with our own love but rather that the love for and of Christ will be ignited in our hearts and will come through us – let the fruit be produced by abiding in Him & receiving God’s love through the Holy Spirit within us.
Our prayer for us today as we gather together on the Lord’s day:
1 Thessalonians 3 v 12-13 says “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all; just as we do to you so that He (God) may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints”
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
So he said, “Teacher, say it.” Luke 7:40
I read this passage of Scripture this morning and it really got me thinking about how Jesus approached Simon with an important truth that he wanted Simon to hear and understand.
Jesus was an invited guest into Simon’s home. He had been invited in but had not been welcomed in (there’s a difference) as Simon’s behaviour had made clear. Jesus had noticed all these slights from Simon as the host such as not giving Jesus water to clean his feet or a welcoming kiss. We know from this well known bible story that a woman comes in (who Simon knows is a woman of bad reputation) and instead she cleans Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair and anoints him with oil.
Jesus had discerned Simon’s heart from his actions and also his thoughts about the woman washing Jesus’s feet. Jesus had something important to teach Simon about forgiveness and love but first Jesus tested whether Simon was prepared to hear what Jesus had to say.
Notice that Jesus in this situation didn’t just presume to tell Simon. He gave Simon the opportunity to hear or not what Jesus had to say. This wasn’t a general teaching to a crowd but this was going to be directed straight at Simon. It was personal. Simon could have said.. no thanks I don’t want to hear what you’ve got to say. I’m not interested. I think if he had then Jesus would have respected that decision and not said anything further. However, Simon gives Jesus the right and permission to speak to him and even acknowledges him as a “Teacher”.
When I’m wronged, treated badly or just want to get my views across then my first reaction is usually to just “tell” and get it straight out there without thinking of asking the other person whether they actually want to hear what I’ve got to say or not. Generally, they’re going to get my opinion whether they like it or not but the question is, have I asked and do I have permission to speak into the situation. Perhaps, I should first be saying “I have something to say to you”.
It’s #ThrowbackThursday and so I thought today I would publish one of my most regularly viewed posts which just so happens to be (to my pleasant surprise) this story from the Old Testament. If you have not heard of the Gibeonites before then please read on…
The bible story of the Gibeonites and how they tricked Joshua & the Israelites (which you can read in the book of Joshua Chapter 9) is a fascinating bible story which has a lot to teach us about deception.
What is Deception
It is a deliberate attempt to make you believe something which is not true – there is an intention to mislead – something is hidden, concealed, there is an ulterior motive. Deception presents facts in a way that you think they are the truth. It will usually contain a mixture of truth, half-truths & lies – it distorts the truth. Deception is usually very close to the truth otherwise it would be easily spotted. Craftiness, & Cunning are usually involved.
Deception can also arise from giving or allowing a false impression to be made by manipulating information, exaggerating or leaving truth or some truth out – lying by omission. If you let someone believe something untrue about you – the person has a wrong impression and instead of correcting them you let them believe it – that’s also deception. That is such a subtle trap we can all fall into – allowing someone to believe an image of ourselves that we project which is not reality- even as believers.
A lie will usually lead to another lie. Eventually you are so far away from the truth you no longer recognise the truth. That is why deception is so dangerous –it’s very subtle. We start to believe the lie is actually truth because we have a wrong reference point or foundation for what we believe. We receive information through a distorted lens of deception and don’t realise it is not truth. We then think others are deceived!
We see elements of this in the plan of the Gibeonites. It was very cleverly thought out – they went to great efforts to paint a picture and give the impression they had travelled from a long long way away and were not in fact neighbours of the Israelites. Their bread was mouldy, their wine was gone, their clothes & sandals were worn out and tattered etc. Those facts were true but the reason they gave was not true. That was the deception.
There is always a motive for deception– sometimes it is just as important discerning the motive behind the deception. The reason why someone wants to deceive us or why we deceive ourselves (self-deception) or others. It can be for a whole host of reasons – dishonest gain (greed), self preservation, fear etc. to name just a few.
In this story, the Gibeonites had heard what had happened to the cities of Jericho & AI (the Israelites had wiped them out) and they feared for their lives – they didn’t want to die. It was all about self-preservation – that can be a very strong motive for deception– we lie or cover things up because we don’t want someone to know the truth about us – preserving ourselves. Fear about what people would think if they know the truth –we become trapped in this false picture we have created.
The Gibeonites wanted a peace treaty with the Israelites– that was what they told Joshua & that was true (v2/3). It doesn’t seem like they were planning a Trojan horse – enemy infiltration– and kill the Israelites afterwards – we’re not told that. The Gibeonites had various options to achieve their aim. We know from verse 1 that they could have joined forces with the other neighbouring Kings in the area who planned to attack the Israelites. That was a genuine option. The Gibeonites were not a weak people or small in number– In Joshua 10 we find out that Gibeon was a might city – bigger than Ai & full of mighty men. They could have fought.
However, they discounted that option – the Gibeonites were wise enough to realise that they had no chance of getting what they wanted by force because God was on the side of Israel. If someone can’t beat you at something or take something by force then beware that they don’t cheat you out of it instead.
Their other option would have been to throw themselves on the mercy of the Israelites & God – been honest from the very beginning – there was an option to do the right thing – but they resorted to obtaining what they wanted by deception.
This is still true today of how the enemy, Satan, will use deception against us. It is one of his greatest strategies – his motive is to “rob, steal and destroy” – he wants to ruin the fullness & joy of a life of freedom & redemption that Christ has given us & all that God has for us. Satan wants to stop you growing and maturing and being an effective disciple of Jesus.
If Satan cannot frighten us or overcome us by a direct attack then he will seek to deceive us in some way either by what we believe about our faith in God and salvation in Jesus or what we believe about ourselves. We need to be able to identify and discern those lies. Otherwise there will be consequences of us believing the lie – strongholds will develop in our thinking or behaviours which are not Godly and we won’t be mature and develop in our faith with a firm foundation of truth.
In these days with so much access to information from so many various sources we really need to be able to discern false teachings, false doctrine, false prophecies etc- That is why we need the tools which God has given us to discern deception.
The motives for deception can look “good” to us too -just as the Gibeonites thought and this is part of the trap with “self-deception” – we can do what we think is good rather than what is Godly. We can convince ourselves that the only way out of a situation is to “bend the truth” for a good cause. What a trap.
Where does Deception come from?
Deception originated from Satan – Jesus said satan is the “father of lies” John 8:44 – “He (satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies”.
We see satan’s nature as the liar and deceiver in the garden of Eden. Satan deceives Eve into eating the forbidden fruit which introduced sin & death into creation.
Deception is sin –a half truth which misleads – is sin – self-deception is sin.
Deception introduces DOUBT – Deception can mean you start to doubt the “truth” – you doubt your ability to know the “truth”. You start to doubt your own faith – “Are you really a Christian”? Satan introduced doubt when he said to Eve ” Did God really say”? You can start to doubt you have heard God correctly.
Watch out for doubt in your thoughts– where is it coming from? Doubt and Discernment are different things coming from different sources. Doubt does not come from the Holy Spirit. Discernment is the Holy Spirit working in and through us to reveal truth.
We can deceive ourselves – self- deception – it can be in our own hearts. The bible says that “the heart is deceitful above all things” Jeremiah 17:9 – It is so important to ask God to search our hearts and ask Him to reveal if there is any sin in us. Are we deceiving ourselves in areas of our lives, in our behaviours or attitudes.
So we see that from that very first act of deception in the Garden of Eden there are then stories of deception throughout the bible. Jacob deceives his father Isaac to steal the birth right from his brother Esau, Laban then deceives Jacob into marrying Leah, Joseph’s brothers deceive their father Jacob and pretend Joseph is dead.
The Pharisees tried to deceive Jesus, Ananias & Saphira tried to deceive Peter and Simon the Sorcerer tried to deceive Paul.
There is a pattern of deception and deception is still at work today. Jesus warns his followers not to be deceived.
Matthew 24;24 “For False Messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.“
Paul warned the early churches – 2 Corinthians 11:3 – “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”.
Acts 20:30 “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them”.
Let us heed these warnings and be on our guard as believers against deception.
The good news is that this story of the Gibeonites tells us very clearly how to avoid deception –in two words – Ask God.
I love the fact that there is no mystery here, it’s clear -In one sentence we are told exactly why the Israelites were deceived by the Gibeonites– they didn’t ask God but relied instead on the evidence of their own eyes & ears.
Self-Reliance & not God Reliance.
Can we rely on God – The answer is Yes.
Firstly God knows all things (He is omniscient) – nothing is hidden from his view. God cannot therefore ever be deceived. The bible says in Hebrews that no creature is hidden from His sight but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
God forbids deception so it is not part of His character– Leviticus 19: 11 “Do not lie. Do not deceive one another”. Proverbs 12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips but he delights in people who are trustworthy”.
We can also trust Jesus – The bible teaches us that there was no deceit in Jesus – Isaiah 53: 9 “nor was any deceit in his mouth”.
Jesus is The way, The truth & The life. Jesus does not deceive us or lie to us.
Jesus has also sent us the Holy Spirit – as believers we have the Spirit of Truth– living within us. Jesus said the Holy Spirit is our counsellor and will “lead us into truth”. John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own, he will speak only what he hears (from God) and he will tell you what is to come”.
God promises us guidance when we seek Him. There are lots of promises in scripture that when we seek God He will lead & guide us and that we can trust in Him. In Psalm 5 – we are encouraged to take our requests to God each day in prayer and look up (wait for the answer).
God has provided us with His written word – Holy Scripture– His words of truth. God’s Word is the plumb line. If you want to check something is truth – first check what the bible says about it. Go to the source first.
Hebrews 4 says “ For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness for he is a babe but solid food belongs to those who are of full age – that is who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good or evil.”
We need to study and get into the bible ourselves and then practice and test whether the things we hear, read etc. are good (of God) or evil. We have to know these things for ourselves and so mature in our faith. We also need to live out our faith in doing good. James says that we deceive ourselves if we don’t act out our faith as doers of the word and not just hearers.
Ephesians 4;14 “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
The symbolism of the mouldy bread and wine that has run out also speaks to me in this story. As believers we also need fresh bread from heaven – Jesus is our daily bread. He is the living water which never runs out. Reading the bible, Prayer, worship & praise- these are all ways that we daily eat & drink and build ourselves up in Christ.
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirt is Discernment. I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of discernment. Through the exercise of that gift we can discern between good & evil and truth & lies. The Holy Spirit reveals hidden things and what would not be possible to know by our human understanding – it is a divine revelation from God.
Jesus exercised discernment– Jesus discerned the hearts & motives of the Pharisees when they were trying to trick him – “you hypocrites he said– why are you trying to trap me”. Peter discerned through the Holy Spirit that Ananias & Saphira were lying to him and lying to the Holy Spirit. The impure motives of Simon’s heart in seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit were also discerned.
Why did the Israelites not ask God about the Gibeonites? We are not told why – just that they didn’t. This is really interesting because the Israelites had a recent testimony of God revealing deceit in a miraculous way. They discovered why the battle of “Ai” was lost by God revealing deception by one of their own people who had stolen and hidden spoil from the battle which had been forbidden. They could have easily asked God about the Gibeonites. Was it over-confidence or mis-placed confidence in their own abilities – they asked a few questions of the Gibeonites, tested the food etc. but ultimately they relied on themselves and not God. There is a warning in this to us.
The Gibeonites were also pressurising the Israelites to make a peace treaty and to act quickly. That can be a sign of deception – being pressurised into making a quick decision. We need to make time to seek God and ask Him for guidance before making a decision especially if that decision will have big consequences. Don’t be rushed.
There were also signs of deception – – warning bells were there – The Gibeonites flattered the Israelites. Perhaps Joshua & the people were flattered to hear that their exploits in battle had reached so far and wide. Perhaps some pride crept in which made them vulnerable. So the lesson for us it to beware the flatters.
Romans 16:18 “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.”
Ephesians 5 v 6 “Let no-one deceive you with empty words”.
Seeing is not always believing
We are warned not to believe everything we see especially when it comes to signs & wonders. If people are just looking for signs & wonders as evidence of truth or God – the miraculous – then there is a great danger of being deceived.
Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2 9-10 “the coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie – and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
Appearances can be deceptive. The appearance of the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites. They believed what they saw with their eyes.
The good news is that Truth will eventually out. One day the truth will be revealed. The things that are hidden will be revealed by God.
In this story it was only 3 days – a very short time -before the Israelites discovered the truth.
Dealing with Deception
This is a really important part of the story. There are lessons we can learn.
Imagine how Joshua & the Israelites felt when they realised they had been deceived – angry, upset, vengeful, stupid, shamed, guilty, disappointed, betrayed –perhaps they looked for others to blame, fearful that they had disobeyed God.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and imagine – How would you have felt & how do you think you would have reacted.
You may have even experienced deception and can identify with those feelings. – I know I have – twice that I know I have been in fellowships which have been deceived by trusted people– a huge amount of money was stolen from one church and in another there was a sexual predator pretending to be a believer. It can cause a lot of pain & hurt –especially if you have been deceived by someone close to you – but the fallout from how we react can be even worse than the effects of the deception itself. It can cause division, disunity, bitterness, recriminations & unforgiveness even pride – blame those who have been deceived and act as though it wouldn’t have happened to you. “How could they have let this happen”? Relationships are really tested and sometimes don’t survive. We need to guard our hearts in these incredibly difficult circumstances.
In this story we read that the Israelites were not happy at all with Joshua & the leaders when they found out they had been deceived – they started to complain. There was the potential here for there to be a rebellion against the leaders. The people wanted revenge and to kill the Gibeonites and when that wasn’t possible then have them severely punished and to be their slaves. That would have been a terrible life of slavery & drudgery. Open to future abuse as well by their masters. The Israelites had been slaves in the past and now they had the chance to be the masters – to make someone else pay. There was the potential that the Israelites would even deceive themselves into justifying their own bad behaviour or mistreatment of the Gibeonites. They deserved it by deceiving them and had brought this on themselves.
The Gibeonites had obtained the covenant of the peace treaty with the Israelites by deception. It might seem justifiable to us for the Israelites to have broken the covenant they had made as it had been obtained by fraud. As a lawyer, I know that the law today enables parties to terminate a contract if there has been fraud or misrepresentation. It is seen as the fair thing to do.
However, the Israelites had made this vow & covenant in God’s name and the leaders were concerned about bringing dishonour to God’s name and also fearful about what God might do to them if they didn’t honour the covenant.
That decision was Godly Wisdom indeed because later in the bible we find out that Saul does break that covenant. The result is that God is really displeased and there is a famine as a result which is only brought to an end when 7 of Saul’s sons are killed (crucified) as a substitution to make right the wrong that has been done to the Gibeonites.
This reminds me that through Christ’s death on the Cross and His Resurrection Power we are given the ability in Jesus to overcome our natural desires of our flesh for revenge, anger etc when deceived and to forgive the deceiver and release them to God.
What did Joshua do in this story?
Joshua doesn’t attack the Gibeonites when he discovers the truth. He confronts their lie in the right way. He wants to discover the truth – why did they lie.
That is important for us – we may need, in some circumstances and however, difficult and upsetting to confront the deceiver. In the right way- in a Christ like way- just like Joshua did. Jesus did the same with the people who tried to deceive him – He called it out. “Why are you trying to trick me”
The Gibeonites take the opportunity and tell Joshua the truth. It’s like a confession of their sins. They confess the lie.
They are under a curse because of the lie but Joshua also shows them Mercy – v 27 – He doesn’t make them the slaves for everyone – imagine what a life of hell that would have been -but he makes them woodcutters & watercarriers for the house of God. This would still been a hard & demanding work but not the punishment that the people wanted and perhaps arguably that the Gibeonites deserved.
By making them the woodcutters and watercarriers for the house of God Joshua actually brings them close to God. This reminds us that God is truly merciful to everyone and He has made a way through Christ for everyone to come into His family.
So I would say -Put those who have wronged you into the hands of God. Let Him deal with them for you. If we have done wrong let’s confess our sins and God will forgive us.
It doesn’t say in the story that Joshua explicitly forgave the Gibeonites but this is something which we are required to do as believers. Forgive those who trespass against us. Jesus tells us to forgive – it is a requirement of living out a life of faith. It is not easy. I didn’t realise for a long time that I even had any unforgiveness in my heart still towards the person who had hurt me through their deception. It wasn’t obvious – I didn’t think about them or wish bad things on them. I thought I had dealt with it but I had deceived myself by burying the hurt & fear deep inside me.
God showed me the effect of that buried unforgiveness in my life was like those little foxes which ruin the vineyard. It was ruining my fruitfulness in certain areas of my Christian walk. God really opened my eyes to the things I had deceived myself about by not dealing properly with those things– lies that I had started to believe – that I couldn’t really trust God to protect me or those close to me, that there was hatred buried deep in my heart towards this person. I learnt to forgive by God’s grace.
When we deal with deception in the right way I believe that we defeat it’s power in our lives. In Joshua chapter 10 the Gibeonites are under attack from the other Kings and they ask Joshua for help.
This was the test. Joshua does not refuse them help. He helps his one-time enemies who had deceived him. Joshua is faithful to his promise and because of this and the way he acts, we read in Chapter 10 that God gives the Israelites their biggest victory in battle so far – there are miracles and God enables them to defeat all of the 5 Kings who had plotted against the Israelites at the start of chapter 9 at once. God says “Do not fear them for I have delivered them into your hand”.
If you are obedient to God then he will give you the victory over your enemy and you will overcome.
God can do the miraculous in your circumstances – in v11 of the chapter we read how God came to their aid and cast down great hailstones from heaven – a demonstration of His great power.
Even the sun stood still v 12 and v 14 – The Lord fought for Israel. He didn’t just fight for the Israelites though (His people) – He also fought for the Gibeonites – it was their city that was being attacked. God was now protecting those who were serving in His house and part of His house. We are also under God’s protection now having been brought into His family through Jesus the Son. We are under God’s loving care. God surrounds us with His favour.
I don’t think that Joshua & the Israelites would have had such a victory if they had not honoured the peace covenant made with the Gibeonites. God honoured Joshua and gave him a mighty victory.
Bless you my friends.