Oct12TueOctober 12, 2021
This 4-minute devotional may be listened to by clicking here.
JOSHUA 9:3-4, 22, 25 (ESV)
“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… Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell among us?... “We feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it.”
COME AS YOU ARE
Pretending is easy and it’s a skill that we usually learn early in life. Perhaps you can look back in your childhood and remember a time when you pretended to be an animal in the wild, a teacher before a classroom or a superhero saving the day. Pretending opens a world of possibility that knows no limits. It’s a wonderful way for children of all ages to expand their imaginations and turn an ordinary moment into a joyful experience.
However, there comes a point when pretending is unhealthy. Consider the ‘platform’ of social media. It is very common to post pictures which portray such a narrow slice of truth that it would be better described as play-acting. Pictures of happiness are posted as a way of hiding a great sadness. Pictures of contentment are shared as a way to cover up an attitude of jealousy or greed.
As another example, consider how people commonly greet one another in the mid-west. “How are you doing?” “Fine,” we respond by default. Sometimes it can be easier to pretend than to show our authentic self.
The Bible reminds us that the Lord sees us as we actually are. He is not fooled by anything that we do. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). Unfortunately, it can still be tempting to try to outwit God and pretend to be someone we are not.
In Joshua chapter 9, a group of Hivities from the city of Gibeon attempted to ‘pretend’ their way into God’s family. They decided to dress up as poor sojourners and quickly strike up a deal for protection. As you read Joshua 9, you’ll notice that their strategy worked…to a point. The true identity of these ‘pretenders’ was found out just a few days later.
To their benefit, Joshua did honor his word. The people of Gibeon were given safety within Israel while also being sentenced to serve as laborers at God’s altar for the rest of their days.
This story is remarkable in that it shows that even ‘outsiders’ were allowed entrance into Israel. However, this story is also sad. The Gibeonites thought that their only chance with God was to pretend to be people that they were not. They overlooked the fact that the Lord was in the business of offering refuge to those who were willing to turn away from idolatry and seek refuge under His sovereign mercy.
Even now, it’s easy for people to try to ‘pretend’ their way into God’s Kingdom. However, the true entrance is found through genuine surrender. Jesus said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3). Even though children are good at pretending, they are also good at admitting their need. We all need the same attitude.
Lord, help us to come to you as we truly are. Only through Jesus will we find refuge and life. Amen!