(All scripture references from NIV unless noted otherwise)
In Joshua chapters 5 and 6 we read about how Joshua led the Israelites to soundly defeat Jericho – without really even having to do much battle. Chapter 6:27 says “So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.” I am sure that had to cause alarm in the hearts of all the other kings and communities. I am also sure that this solid victory surely gave the Israelites a lot of confidence – confidence that they needed in order to continue moving throughout the land and claiming what the Lord has promised to them for so many years.
Just imagine their surprise when they next went up to do battle with Ai where they were chased and some of them killed. It struck fear into the hearts of the Israelites. Joshua and the elders went before the Lord, fell on their faces and called on Him about what to do. Joshua 7:10-12 (The Message) says “God said to Joshua, ‘Get up. Why are you groveling? Israel has sinned: They’ve broken the covenant I commanded them; they’ve taken forbidden plunder—stolen and then covered up the theft, squirreling it away with their own stuff. The People of Israel can no longer look their enemies in the eye—they themselves are plunder. I can’t continue with you if you don’t rid yourselves of the cursed things.’”
He is then given directions on how to discover who among them has committed this sin. In 7:20-21, when confronted, Achan confesses to what he had done. He admitted that he “coveted” some of the plunder – taking it for himself and hiding it in his tent – he had made a deal with the devil. This one man gave into the temptation of the devil and brought shame, fear and defeat to his whole nation. Achan, his family and all he had then paid the ultimate price for his sin. Once this was handled, the Lord assured Joshua that he no longer needed to be afraid and that He would deliver Ai – the king and the whole city into their hands.
You would think this would all be an impressive lesson for Joshua and the leaders of the Israelites. But they apparently became complacent after going forth and indeed defeating Ai. When the people of Gibeon heard of the strength of the Israelites and their army’s success, they came up with a plan to deceive them in order to save themselves, rather than doing battle with them along with all the other kings. Chapter 9:3b says “…they resorted to a ruse” (an action intended to deceive someone; a trick) and Joshua and the leaders failed to seek the Lord to get proof of their story. Verse 14b says “The men of Israel…did not inquire of the Lord”, then they made a treaty of peace with them pledging to let them live. When all the Israelites found out what Joshua and the leaders had done they were very upset. So Joshua told them that they were bound to stand by the treaty and not kill them, but that the Gibeonites would become their slaves forever. Those Gibeonites made a deal with the devil using deception; and, although they were allowed to live and avoided doing battle with them, they were forever enslaved.
We need to always remember how sly Satan is – he is the champion of trickery – of deceit. He can appear to us in very cunning ways in order to deceive us – all you have to do is remember Eve in the Garden of Eden. He prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). He masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He schemes against us (Ephesians 6:11). He is all around us – in our world and the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). He is the father of lies and tries to make us like him (John 8:44). He is bold – he even tried to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:3). He is an imitator for the purpose of trickery (Matthew 12:24). He lost his place in heaven and was thrown to earth which is now his domain (Revelation 12:7-9).
But we have no need to be fearful of the devil when we are on God’s side. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) We all need to do battle with him and defeat him. Ephesians 6:10-18 (The Message) says “…God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
As mentioned above, in Matthew 4, we can see the importance of that indispensable weapon of God’s Word. The devil was so bold that he dared to attempt deception against God Himself in the form of Jesus. But Jesus used the Word of God against him saying in verses 4, 7 and 10 “It is written” and quoting scripture to him. However, the devil, not to be outdone, himself used the Word of God against Jesus in verse 6b saying “For it is written…” and quoted scripture. We cannot be fooled into thinking that the devil is stupid, because he is not. He was one of the most glorious of angels in heaven with God at the beginning of time. But having become arrogant he tried to lead a group of angels that he had influenced to revolt against God, attempting to become more powerful than God Himself. It did not work – he was an utter failure and was cast out of heaven forever – assured the end of his story will be eternity in hell.
If we would commit all of our life decisions and problems to God with prayer, I believe that we could avoid unintentionally making deals with the devil. We must always stay strong in our faith. We need to study and learn the Word of God because His Word is the sword that we can use to battle against all that is evil. How can we ever expect to defeat him with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” if we do not study it and commit it to memory?
Written by Karran Martin – March 10, 2019