Timeout

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There is a definite lesson to be learned for the believer from the art of coaching. When a team is faced with a difficult situation, you can count on the coach to pause the action by taking a timeout, as a means of evaluating how to proceed.

This is what Christians are instructed to do in our everyday lives. Proverbs 3:5-6 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

The Lord promises that he will point us in the right direction. We, first, though, have to trust that as our guide, God is giving us the right directions. In times where even these directions seem unclear, there is a simple solution: stop and ask.

Many times, we always seem to be in a hurry when it comes to making decisions. This is even the case when circumstances do not dictate an immediate answer.

This was the case with Joshua and the Israelites in the ninth chapter of the book of Joshua.

After Israel’s conquest of Canaan was inaugurated with the destruction of the cites of Jericho and Ai, the terrified people of Gibeon thought best to resort to deception rather than rely on military strength.

The Gibeonites devised a scheme to trick Israel into making a treaty with them, by pretending to be from a “distant country.” (The Israelites had previously received a command not to make a treaty with the inhabitants of Canaan [Dueteronomy 7:2].)

Included in the tactics of the Gibeonites were carrying worn-out sacks and old wineskins, wearing old clothes, and packing bread that was dry and molded—all signs to indicate the length of their journey.

Initially, when the men make their desire to engage in a treaty known, Joshua was skeptical. He asked in verse eight, “Who are you and where did you come from?”

The Gibeonites were convincing, however, and the discernment of Joshua began to fade. Joshua 9:14-16 details:

The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. 15 Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it on oath. 16 Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them.

Why the rush? Though the story of the Gibeonites apparently checked out, Israel was never told what country they were from, only that they were from a “distant country.” They knew nothing of these people except what was told them—which really was not much.

What seemed to be a reality, based on the presented facts, was actually a farse.

First Corinthians 4:5 posits, “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.”

Had Israel not made a rushed decision and sought the direction of the Lord, they would have learned of the Gibeonites’ deception without making a treaty. This lets me know that discernment is not merely skepticism, but it is what God says about a thing.

I would posit that Joshua actually, initially, thought this treaty business was bad news. What he asks the Gibeonites seems like a standard question, but you also have to consider the Spirit of wisdom Joshua was anointed with after Moses laid his hands on him (Duet. 34:9).

Most times, God will speak to our spirit by his Spirit (Proverbs 20:27) and give us the answer to the question before we even realize it. Also, the text says that “the men of Israel” sampled their provisions. I am not inclined to believe that this included Joshua, because verses seven and eight distinguish between them.

This means that Joshua’s decision was based on the opinions of others. When in a position of leadership—spiritual leadership at that—there is no way you can base a major decision on the thoughts of others without seeking the Lord’s counsel.

The men of Israel, by all means, were probably more skeptical that Joshua about the Gibeonites, entertaining the possibility that they could actually be from a near country (Joshua 9:7). Upon merely “sampling” the provisions, they were willing to bypass an audience with God and enter blindly into a binding contract.

We should never be in so much of a hurry that we cannot seek the Lord’s direction in our affairs. In fact, if it were not for him, we would be walking aimlessly without any direction at all.

First Peter 2:25 reads, “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepard and Overseer of your souls.”

The Lord wants us to be lead by his Spirit in every aspect of our lives. He says as much in Galatians 5:25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

There is no situation to small, and certainly not too large, for us to seek the help of the Counselor. After all, he is our helper and is here to teach us (John 14:26).

Colossians 4:5 tells us to, “make the most of every opportunity.” Every chance we are afforded we should seek the Holy Spirit for his direction, by both inquiring of him and allowing his words to shed light on our circumstances (Psalm 119:130).

If we wait on the answer, the Lord will confirm what he probably told us in the beginning…and spare us a lot of headache.

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~ by christianballenger on December 15, 2011.

One Response to “Timeout”

  1. I learned this exact lesson over the summer. I could have been spared a lot of headache and heartache if I sought God’s direction first. It’s quite the challenge because you simply want to take things into your own hands. People in the OT and NT oftentimes “inquired of God”. I see no reason why we can’t do the same today!

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