Joshua 9-12, Psalm 67
I have a patient who I have cared for almost 25 years. She came to me as a teenager and I have taken care of her for a multitude of issues including her four pregnancies. She is an agnostic or atheist, but I have spoken to her frequently about God. Recently she had a procedure done which would make it dangerous to become pregnant. Despite my warnings, she did get pregnant. When she approached me she asked me to please remove my Christian hat when discussing all of the options with her. I explained to her that it was not a hat but my heart which was full of Christ. I told her that just like I cannot remove my heart I cannot pretend that Christ could be removed from my discussion. Though our nation was founded upon the foundation of God, we live now in a completely different America. Though as recently as 1954, The President of the United States urged the words "under God" to be added to the Pledge of Allegiance, our nation now has removed the mention of God out of every public discourse. People will commonly state that no one should discuss religion and politics in group discussions. Our history is being re-written and God is being removed from our history books, our universities, the media, from everywhere. Through the years many from other countries fled to our nation because of our God and the evidence of what our God has done for our nation. We have to wonder due to the effectiveness of removing Him from public discourse if this still holds true.
Though the example of the Gibeonites represents a failure on the part of Joshua to bring the issue before God before entering into a covenant with them, you can't miss the tenacity and awesome respect they had for the God of the Israelites. We read in Joshua 9:8-10, "...And Joshua said to them, "Who are you, and where do you come from?" So they said to him: "From a very far country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have heard of His fame, 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 king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth." Notice the Gibeonites did not fear the Israelites but their God. We see in chapters 10 and 11 that those kings did not fear God but instead mistakenly sized up the their earthly opponent, the Israelites to their own peril. Notice the response of the Gibeonites once their deception was uncovered in Joshua 9:24-25, "So they answered Joshua and said, "Because your servants were clearly told that the Lord your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. And now, here we are, in your hands; do with us as it seems good and right to do to us." Their personal rights were less important to them than being in the presence and protection of God.
Paul tells us in Philippians 3:20, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." So, since we are citizens of heaven, and ambassadors on earth, how are we doing in that role? It is tragic that our nation has allowed God to be marginalized and removed from every serious arena in our history and current events. But we are not of the world but of Him. Is the name and power of Jesus so present on our lips that it is nearly impossible to keep Him out of our conversation. The Gibeonites wanted to join the camp of God because of what they heard about Him. Do unbelievers want to join the camp of God now because of what they hear about Him through us? If we truly fear God more than others, then we cannot allow ourselves to be absorbed into society's discourse, but instead as Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: