March 23 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“The Israelites sampled their provisions but did no inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live…” ~Joshua 9:14-15

In the ancient world, before the rise of great nation-states, kings ruled over cities (what we now call city-states). The kings who ruled larger cities exercised power over smaller cities nearby. As word begins to spread of Moses and Joshua’s successful campaigns, the kings of Canaan ally to expel the invading nation. However, the Gibeonites, who live in a network of cities, refuse to join an alliance they do not believe will save them from the powerful God who fights for Israel.

Instead, the Gibeonite elders resort to the use of diplomatic deception. Knowing that the invading people of God are not entering into peace accords with locals, they send out messengers disguised as foreign diplomats. It is a bold plan, and it pays off. In this part of the world at this time, friends are hard to come by so the offer of friendship from distant neighbors is almost always welcomed. A good relationship with other kings could prove very helpful given the volatile political climate of the ancient Near East. So Israel’s leaders, who neglect to consult the Lord, buy the lie and enter into a peace accord with a group of Canaanites, their sworn enemies.

The fledgling community of God-worshippers is learning some important lessons during their first foray into the land. There are powerful enemies, community members who defy God and bring harm, and “friends” who deceive and weaken. The Evil One is as cunning as ever in his attempts to trip up this people who are on the journey toward blessing. He comes at them from all angles.

I think the passage calls us to be vigilant about who and what we place trust in. Don’t misunderstand. We’re not turning a cynical eye on everyone we meet, but rather we are exercising discernment. Cynicism is an unhealthy distrust of everything and everyone except one’s self, which, ironically, sets a person up for self-deception. In contrast, a discerning person uses careful reflection and/or cautious inspection to determine if trust is warranted. John the Baptist utilized his knowledge of the people to call out their hypocrisy, rather harshly, in Luke 3:7-8. Be discerning when you meet a new friend, hear a new idea (even from a preacher!), read a new book, or consider a new opportunity. It may be as great as it seems, but a little time, a lot of prayer, and honest talk with a few people you KNOW you can trust will help you discern if perception is reality. God wants us to be blessed, not bamboozled!

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.