God’s instructions to the Israelites on the banks of the Jordan are straightforward: Make no treaties with the natives; you may make treaties with nations outside the designated boundaries of the Land, but not with those inside it.
These orders should have been so emblazoned on their minds that the Israelites would have taken extra care not to be duped when a mangy looking coterie of men with moldy pita bread and honeycombed sandals stumbled into their camp and claimed to be from a faraway country. In fact it was a ruse cooked up by a close neighbor who did not fancy being the next victims of the Hebrew war machine they had heard rumors about. But Israel saw the shoes, smelled the bread, heard the tale, and made a treaty with these Gibeonites. The Lord was displeased.
It wasn’t long before Gibeon was on the hit list of all the other surrounding kingdoms. Israel was now bound by covenant with people they were supposed to have exterminated. Nevertheless, it is understood that Israel must now fight as hard for the preservation of Gibeon as she would fight for herself. The takeaway lesson for me is that a marriage, even one entered into unwisely, is a marriage. You must fight for your marriage every bit as zealously whether it was unwisely or wisely entered into.
How do we know that God approves of Israel honoring the treaty she made in a moment of folly? Because He helps them fight. You may have heard of the unique day in history when the sun stood still and God hurled down hailstones (Joshua 10:1-15). That day occurred in the battle for the Gibeonites.
But see the completeness of the forgiveness of God! He not only fights with Israel, but He does so without saying “I told you so” or rubbing it in. He seems to have put Joshua 9 out of his mind. He seems to be thinking about Isaiah 57:16:
“For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before me. …”
Not wanting Israel’s spirit to grow faint, God elects a blessed amnesia, as far as east is from west, and does not bring up the Gibeon matter again to throw it in their faces. Is this not a model for how we should forgive one another?