When we were on a recent trip to Israel we stayed for awhile in the Jerusalem Hills Inn at Abu Ghosh, in the hills not too far from Jerusalem. Our gracious host shared some very interesting history. Mostly Arab today, this was apparently the ancient city of Gibeon.
The Gibeonites were one of the nations that Joshua and the Israelites were commanded by God to eliminate or drive out of the land of Canaan. Chapter 9 of Joshua tells us that the people of Gibeon, fearing for their lives, sent a delegation to trick Joshua into making a peace treaty with them by pretending to have come from a distant country with worn-out wineskins and clothes, and mouldy old bread. Joshua did not inquire of the Lord, and the covenant with these people was not at all in obedience to God's will.
But the interesting observation that is highly relevant to our own walk with the Lord is this: because Joshua messed up Plan A does not mean that God then had to resort to some sort of secondary, inferior Plan B, which somehow tied His hands or hindered Him from still fully accomplishing His purposes in Joshua's life and for Israel.
As we keep reading, Chapter 10 tells us that as a direct result of this treaty/covenant, all five of the Amorite kings of the hill country of central Canaan gathered together to punish Gibeon for making peace with Joshua. To honour the covenant, Joshua undertook an all-night march, and God gave Joshua a huge victory over all of them in one climactic battle, by hurling down large hailstones and stopping the sun in the sky! This is one of the greatest miracles in the Bible. "There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!" (Joshua 10:14 NIV 2011) Even though this covenant was originally a "mistake", God still took it very seriously and expected Israel to honour it.
I find this immensely encouraging to remember when I mess up. And I hope you do, too, because, let's face it, we all mess up, and sometimes royally! But the beautiful thing about God's sovereignty and control is His amazing patience, grace, love, and perfect wisdom for us within that. It's like His Plan A is always being accomplished, one way or another, for us who love Him, because even if we are not always faithful, He is always faithful, for He cannot lie.
So here's the thing: if the Lord takes a man-made covenant this seriously, then how much more absolutely infallible and iron-clad is any covenant that God Himself unilaterally initiates and makes by His grace! And therefore, how much more totally guaranteed is our security and salvation forever in His hands, in His new covenant, which has been eternally written for us from the foundation of the world in the blood of Christ Himself!
So we can take heart, that no matter what this world throws at us, and even in the face of our mistakes and many imperfections, the Lord keeps re-working the clay — and never into something inferior, but only somehow more and more in the image of Christ.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You are who You are, and for never giving up on us! You are always faithful and merciful in Your working in our lives, in spite of our many weaknesses and imperfections. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "God Of Our Fathers Whose Almighty Hand" (Lyrics)