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The Taking of Vows

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
July 10, 2021 12:01 am

The Taking of Vows

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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July 10, 2021 12:01 am

When the enemies of Israel came to Joshua in disguise, Joshua swore an oath to them, not realizing it would require him to disobey God's commandments. Today, R.C. Sproul warns us to be careful about the promises we make.

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Joshua and the Israelites believed a lie and be entered into a treaty without seeking the counsel of the Lord and without searching out the wisdom of God. The elders of Israel fell into this trap. Trusting in their own wisdom, trusting in their own judgment and agreed to the terms of the treaty.

The Gibeonites had asked for. They did this unwittingly, and they also did it on wisely, they neglected the counsel of the serious failure in judgment on their part. We can all too often fall into ourselves today on Renewing Your Mind. We returned to Dr. RC school series in the book of Joshua and will learn some difficult lessons about unwise valves. One of the problems we face in our culture today. That is become a very serious issue is the breakdown of our whole system of contracts and covenants that are based upon solemn promises on sacred files and holy 06 and when we look at the Old Testament Scriptures we see that God takes promises and owes and involves very seriously. We live in a culture today that just seems to play loosely with promises we sing the disintegration of the institution of marriage where there is or willy-nilly violation of vials that take place all melt today as we continue our study of the book of Joshua we come into a startling episode in the conquest of Canaan that involves this whole question of promises and of violence. Now let's turn our attention to the ninth chapter of the book of Joshua will reread beginning in verse three this comment that is taking place after the initial victories that the people of Israel had against Jericho and AI and others. We read in verse three when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and AI. They worked craftily and went and pretended to be ambassadors and they took old sacks on their donkeys and wineskins, torn and mended old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy, and they want to Joshua to the camp Gill gal and said to him, and to the men of Israel, we have come from a far country. Now, therefore, make a covenant with us now do you see what's going on here. This is a cleverly devised ruse by the inhabitants of Gibeon which is located about 8 miles from the city of Jerusalem.

These people were not from a distant country but they were part of the local population and this group realized after they had heard all of the stories that were circulating through their land of the overwhelming might of the conquering army of the Israelites that they were terrified that their city, and that their region would just simply be radically obliterated by this assault force that is now invading Canaan, so they saw they had no chance to defeat the Israelite army and so they came up with this cleverly devised plan to pretend that these men who represented the region were from a formation from a foreign nation, not from Canaan and that they were try to elicit from the general in charge of the Jewish army.

A covenant of peace and so in order to accomplish this, they got all dressed up in old garments, and the only wineskins they brought were only wineskins that were worn out. Falling apart in their shoes were ragged and the only provisions they brought with them were some bread that was moldy and gave the outward appearance of having been aged over a period of time fitting with the whole story that they were telling of having traveled a great distance, and so they come up to Joshua with their ally with their deception and asking if Joshua would enter into a covenant agreement with them.

In verse seven we read in the men of Israel said to the invites. Perhaps you dwell among us. So how can we make a covenant with you, but they said the Joshua we are your servants. And Joshua said to them who are you and where do you come from, and so again they responded from a very far country, your servants of come because of the name of the Lord your God, for we have heard of this fame and all that he did in Egypt and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to silent king of hash bottom King of Bashan, who was at Astro. Therefore, our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us saying take provisions with you for the journey and go to meet them and say to them. We are your servants. Now, therefore, make a covenant with us, so they couch this deception in religious terms, saying we heard of the great feats of your God, Yahweh, and how he delivered Jericho and AI into your hands, and even in Transjordan, the victories that you had there and we heard of what God did for your people in the land of Egypt, and all we want to do is enter into a treaty with you that we might be your servants.

We want to serve you. We want to serve the God of Israel, and we want to have a peaceful relationship to you, and so they continued the lie, the bread of office. We took hot provisions from our houses on the day we departed to come to you, but now look it's dry and moldy in these wineskins which we filled were new and see their torn.

These are garments, and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey. So then the men of Israel took some of their provisions. They did not ask counsel of the Lord. So Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them to let them live, and the rulers of the congregation swore to them. What's going on in this couple verses that I just read is this that the fact that the Jewish soldiers ate the proffered provisions.

Even though the bread was dry and multi-was part of the ritual of the treaty agreement by accepting their offer of food and eating with them. This was an ancient near Eastern custom of celebrating the pact or the treaty that they had just agreed to make with the people I were told in the text that the elders of Israel were involved in the decision.

The Joshua was involved in the decision, but the one person who was not involved in the decision was God without seeking the counsel of the Lord and without searching out the wisdom of God. The elders of Israel fell into this trap. Trusting in their own wisdom, trusting in their own judgment and agreed to the terms of the treaty that the Gibeonites had asked for.

They did this unwittingly, and they also did it on wisely.

Now I stress that for a reason, because the broader concern that we have here apart from the isolated instance of this event in the broader history of the conquest of Canaan is the theological significance that is involved here, as I said earlier, it brings us face-to-face with this whole question of the taking of violence and the making of promises in the swearing of of we don't always think before we file. We don't always seek the face of God before we make promises we often trust on our own understanding. We often enter into agreements impetuously and I think everybody who's listening to my voice right now can think of events in their own lives where they have done just that. We call this the rash vow or the rash promise the vowel or the promise that is made without careful prior consideration. Now let's read on in the story and see what happens in verse 16 of chapter 9 of Josh will reread this and it happened at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them. Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day, and other cities were Gibeon Chef, bureaus and gear is jeering but the children of Israel did not attack them because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel, and all the congregation complained against the rulers, why would they comply. We remember from our earlier studies of Joshua with the land of Canaan was under the divine band and the command of God to Joshua was to institute the hovering and you will remember that the term Marine HEREM refers to the concept of holy war that we meet here in these times of the conquest of Canaan were God in giving the promised land to his people, to a nation that he had chosen from all the nations of the world and consecrated them to himself, saying you shall be holy, even as I am holy to manifest that sacred selection or election of this group of people from all the nations of the world. God took great pain to maintain the purity of this group and he told them that they would be holy meaning to be set apart or consecrated or in simple language to be different from all the cultures and all the nations that surrounded them and we also know, and the subsequent history of Israel. But perhaps the most damaging problem that occurred in the nation later was the problem of what was called syncretism and syncretism involves the blending or merging together of pagan elements of culture with the culture that God had established with his people by a holy covenant. We read the history of the Kings and we read the history of the Jewish people beginning to follow after Bale we remember the Titanic epic confrontation with the prophet Elijah had with the priest of bail on Mount caramel. All of these events that happened later happened as a result of an abiding pagan influence that remained in the promised land.

After God had commanded Joshua and his troops to remove all vestiges of pagan culture and pagan influence from this new way but here we encounter an event that disrupts the whole program. Joshua's mandate is to annihilate the Gibeonites, but he didn't know they were Gibeonites and they came to him with this pretext of being ambassadors from a foreign land and they tricked him and they full him and they fooled the elders of Israel so that Joshua and his troops. Now when they come near to Gibeon, they discover that the ambassadors were representing the Gibeonites and not some foreign nation so do you see the moral dilemma. Joshua faces on the one hand, he has a duty to perform under the mandate of God. But now, on the other. He has sworn an oath to protect these people.

This is the second time we've seen this take place in the conquest of Canaan. The first one was in the case of Joshua swearing file through his troops to the family of Rahab to not kill Rahab and her family so when Jericho was destroyed that one tiny little family was singularly spared because of the promise in the bile made to Rahab, her family would be protected now in a larger scale. We have this same kind of situation emerging verse 19 that all the rulers said to all the congregation we have sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel. Now therefore, we may not touch them. This we will do to them. We will let them live last last be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them in the rulers said to them, let them live, but let them be wood cutters and water carriers for all the congregation as the rulers had promise that Josh will call for them and spoke to them, saying, why have you deceived us saying we are very far from you when you dwell near us.

Now therefore, you are cursed and none of you shall be freed from being slaves wood cutters and water carriers for the house of my God and silliness to Joshua and said because your servants were clearly told that the Lord your God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you. Therefore, we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have gone this thing now here we are in your hands do with us, as it seems good and right to do to us and so he did to them and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel so they did not kill them and that they Joshua made wood cutters and water carriers for the congregation for the owner of the Lord in the place which he would choose even to this day. Now remember when these men came posing as ambassadors part of the agreement they elicited from Joshua was this day agreed to be the servants of the slaves of Israel that was part of the covenant that was part of the agreement and there saying we will keep our side of the bargain. We will be your wood cutters in your water bears and we will be slaves to your community.

As we have promised. As for you, you do to us what you think is right and proper. And in saying that they reminded Joshua of their own knowledge of what God had promised to the people of Israel so they had some awareness of the law of God and of the religion of the people of God. Now as soon as the congregation saw that this group was being allowed to go free, they were terribly upset and distressed and they complained to Joshua and they complained to the elders as a way to what we doing here were supposed to conquer these people so the elders then had to explain the dilemma and once the elders explained the dilemma to them. Then there was agreement among the people that the promise that the elders had made and that Joshua had sworn had to be kept.

What's the point of all this in our day. We make promises with our fingers crossed so that if the thing that we hadn't anticipated comes to pass after we've entered into the agreement we want out of the agreement I read almost every day in the newspaper in the sporting pages about some athlete who is now asking to renegotiate his contract because he's had a better season than he thought he would have that he realizes now that his market value has increased significantly from the day he first entered into his agreement. We don't just see this in the sporting world. We see it in the workplace every day, or somebody agrees to certain remuneration and employment stipulations and as soon as they get the job they earnestly try to get another very long and their demanding changes in the terms of their contract and this is become acceptable behavior to the story of Jephthah's daughter where Jeff sloughs for a ration file that the first person that came through the door he would sacrifice to the Lord and after he made the file to his daughter. Most horror person who walks through the door was his own daughter. Now the Bible cautions us not only through the story that was read here today in Joshua but in countless places in Scripture to be very careful about taking vials and oaths and entering into soul impacts and agreements. For this reason as the Bible tells us it is better never to file than to involve and not pay because if I don't take my vow seriously and you don't think you've seriously God does take it serious. That's a sobering message from Dr. RC Sproul. It's a lesson from his series on the book of Joshua and your listing to Renewing Your Mind of the Saturday thank you for being with us timely web. We returned to the series. Each Saturday, but if you've missed any messages along the way. Or if you'd like to continue study on your own will be glad to send you all 10 messages for your gift of any amount against title the book of Joshua and it's available on an MP3 CD you can make your request when you call us at 800-435-4343 or you can give your gift and let me take just a moment here in our 50th year of ministry to thank you for your generous support your disallows to continue creating teaching series like the one we heard today. I hope you make plans to join us again next Saturday for another lesson from the book of Joshua as we say goodbye. Here's a final thought from RC. What happens when we make a promise and we find out after we make the promise that things are not exactly what we thought they were or thought they would be would you do if you're in Joshua situation here would you say to the Gibeonites. Wait a minute, wait a minute you tricked me you fool me in the terms of this covenant, and so therefore I am released from my duty to fulfill it. When that they are temptation if we found out after we entered into an agreement that we have been tricked into the agreement. But what we have here is a model of integrity, a model of people who understand how absolutely significant vials, promises and covenants are in the presence of God relationship. We have to God is based upon his covenant promise to us, and also basis of sin. Every time we sin, we break the law. We are breaking our promise about the terms of the covenant relationship that we have got that's why the Bible says all of us are covenant breakers and is because of covenant breaking that human beings are violated every single day and God is not like that. And so even when he's put in this terribly compromising situation. Joshua remains faithful to the word of his promise. He blew it.

The elders blew it they were unwise, but they were now bound and they said we will keep the promise that we have made, no matter how much it costs. That's what God wants from his people

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