"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Raising The Standard: Availability Is Refusing To Be Deterred By Deceptive Distractions

"No Man that warmeth entangleth himself with the affairs of his life: that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." ~ 2 Timothy 2:4 A wise trial lawyer takes special notice of which point his opponent emphasizes the most; often that is the weakest argument. Every leader must have the skill of a lawyer when dealing with the many appeals which come to him, especially appeals which would deter him from accomplishing his basic objective. God illustrates this principle in an account of one of history's most important military campaigns. The commanding general led an army of hundreds of thousands of men. They conquered powerful enemies and great walled cities, but one small group of clever men outwitted this general and his leaders. If the general and his men had not been deterred by an appeal, they would have avoided a dangerous and deceptive distraction.
Scripture warns that anyone who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. What leader was flattered by a group of neighbors and stumbled into their net? Joshua
Weary men in tattered clothes hobbled toward a distant army camp. Dusty sacks covered their donkeys. The men clutched worn out wine skins and dry, moldy bread. As they neared the camp, soldiers resting from battle stared at these curious visitors. The general and his army leaders listened as they explained their mission. "We are ambassadors from a far country. Now, therefore, make a league with us." This was hardly the time to think about a league with a distant country. Surrounded by hostile enemies in nearby cities, this army had been commanded to conquer and destroy. Strict instructions had been given to the general not to make an alliance with any of those cities. Several army leaders voiced their hesitation. "What if we find out that you actually live in this country? How could we make a league with you?" The matter was almost dropped. The leaders nearly escaped deception, but the general grew curious. He asked a few more questions. "Who are you? From where did you come?" The clever visitors had carefully prepared their answers. They told the general and his army that the fame of their previous battles had spread to their country. When their nation, which was very far away, had heard the news, they wanted to become allies. This proposal appealed to the pride of the general and his men. Then they took their moldy bread and their worn out wine skins and passed them around to the general and his leaders. "This bread was fresh from the oven when we began our journey, " they said, " and these wine skins were new; but we have traveled a long distance to come to you." Through these arguments and evidence they appealed to human reason. At this point the general and his leaders should have asked counsel of the Lord. Instead, they relied upon their own reasoning and entered into the league. Their military campaign continued. Every army they fought was conquered and destroyed. After their battles they returned to the camp for what should have been a joyous celebration. Instead the army and their families wept. An angel of the Lord brought them a message from God. "You were commanded to make no league with the inhabitants of this land but to destroy them totally and to throw down their altars. But you have not obeyed. Therefore, they shall be thorns in your sides and their gods a snare unto you." Among other things God was referring to the small group of travelers who had deceived them. Three days after the league was made, the general and his men discovered that their visitors actually represented a neighboring city which God had marked for destruction. But they were bound to honor the alliance which they had made. If only Joshua had refused to be deterred by the deception of flattery, he would have avoided a major obstacle in reaching his goal. He would have also removed from future generations the conflict and temptations which came as a result of this league. ~ From Joshua 9:1-10-14
Why Was Joshua Forbidden To Make Peace With The Canaanites?
The primary reason was that the Lord purposed to destroy utterly the Canaanites because of their wickedness. "And the land is defiled; therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants." (Leviticus 18:25) A second reason is that the Lord knew that involvement with these wicked people would cause the Israelites to imitate their ways (cf. Exodus 23:33). This proved to be painfully true throughout the history of Israel A recurring theme in the book of Judges is: "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim...and followed other gods, of the gods of the people who were round about them , and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger." (Judges 2:11, 12)
Why Didn't Joshua Let The Canaanite Kings Destroy The Gibeonites?
When Joshua made the original league with the Gibeonites, there was no mention of a protection clause in regard to third party invaders. Such an agreement was impractical. Joshua would never have consented to lead his army to a distant land in order to defend these strangers, nor was their any offer by the Gibeonites to help fight Joshua's enemies. The responsibility of protection was added three days later when they made the Gibeonites their slaves. The Mosaic Law was clear in its exhortation to the master of a slave. If he cruelly punished him so that he happened to die, the master himself was to be punished (Exodus 21:20). Having made the Gibeonites their bond slaves, the Israelites were bound by honor to protect them.
What Did This Deceptive Distraction Cost The Israelites?
After the conquest of Canaan, the city of Gibeon was allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:25, 21:17). It may be significant that this tribe became so corrupt that it was almost annihilated soon after Joshua's death (cf Judges 20:12, 28:30, 33, 35). As a result of these disobedient leagues with the Canaanites, the Lord made them to be a thorn in their side and their gods became a snare unto the Israelites (Judges 2:2-3). As early as 1630, just ten short years after the Pilgrims arrived in America, a reward was offered for killing the wolf. This first bounty was offered in Massachusetts, and the conflict between man and wolf has continued even to this day. Many methods have been used to exterminate this animal. Trapping was one attempt, but it was only moderately effective. Trappers consider this animal to be the smartest in America. Another effort was strychnine poisoning --- effective only until the wolf learned to recognize and avoid the smell. But the more man understood the intelligence and habits of the wolf, the more he wanted to protect it. The wolf was placed on the endangered species list. Of twenty-four subspecies of the North American grey wolf, six are believed to be extinct.
How Does The Wolf Illustrate Availability By Refusing To Be Deterred By Deceptive Distractions?
A promising scent in the air made the animals eager with excitement. An aroma had drawn the group together and they were all wagging their tails excitedly. The animals were alert and expectant; it had been quite a while since they last smelled this fragrance. This was the beginning of a very important mission.
Conditions were hard and food was scarce. The cold winter had sent many of their food sources to sheltered places to wait out the bitter weather. The white-tailed deer was always a favorite food, but over the years its population had dwindled. These animals were now few and far between, and the chances of the pack finding and overtaking a deer were remote. Another animal in the area was more plentiful, but it was a creature the wolf preferred to avoid. This mighty beast was not an easy target and should the wolf become careless or over-confident, an attempt to attack might prove fatal. The massive moose is almost twelve times the wolf's weight. It is surprisingly agile. Its senses are almost as keen as those of the wolf, and its hooves and antlers are lethal weapons. The head male wolf had returned to the pack that day bringing the good news that its acute sense of smell had picked up the fresh aroma of a nearby moose. Their empty stomachs and the scarcity of the winter made them all eager to accept this formidable challenge. If they were to be successful, however, they would have to rely on strategy to hunt this mighty beast. This pack was a family composed of eight wolves. Each worked in harmony with the others and because of this teamwork the animals were usually successful in capturing their prey. One by one each wolf moved toward their quarry. Soon they caught a glimpse of the mighty bull. The animal had a magnificent set of horns and appeared healthy. The wolves set their plan into operation. Each animal quickly took its position. Soon all eight had encircled it. The alert bull angrily snorted and braced itself for the onslaught of these intruders. The lead female wolf positioned herself in front of the moose. It began rushing at the moose in an effort to force it to run. But it refused to move. Alternately others lunged at it, trying to excite the beast, but to no avail. It continued to stand its ground. The enraged moose defied them, bellowing and raking the ground with its hooves, daring them to try again. Unexpectedly, the wolves turned and left. They did not bother to try again. They knew it was fruitless. This animal was too healthy. They would only be wasting their precious strength to persist any further. The wolves would not be detained by this distraction. The hope of bringing it down was a deception. They knew that if they couldn't get the animal to panic and run within the first few minutes, they would not be able to conquer it. The pack moved on to find a weaker or more inexperienced animal --- one that they could overtake.
Scriptural References To The Wolf
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." ~ Matthew 7:13
A wolf is ordinarily shy and would prefer to avoid a man rather than confront him. But, a pack of wolves is an entirely different matter. Each wolf of a pack becomes one of the most dangerous animals alive. Relentless in pursuit, wolves maintain their chase for hours at a time. The wolf usually singles out the weakest member of the herd, bypassing other prey until it has tracked down and devoured its victim. The comparison of a wolf to a false prophet is revealing. A false prophet seems harmless when alone: but once inside the church he singles out the weaker Christians and, with other false prophets with whom he associates, makes easy prey of them. Their goal is to satisfy their ever-growing greed for money and sensual fulfillment (1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Timothy 3:1-8; 2 Peter 2:10-22).
"Her princes in her midst are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain." ~ Ezekiel 22:27
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, be ye, therefore, wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." ~ Matthew 10:16
"But he that is a hireling...seeth a wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep." ~ John 10:12

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