Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Deceived

Daily Readings
Proverbs 26 + Joshua 9 + Jonah 4 + Ephesians 4

Quote of the Day
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come tothe unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13

Daily Text: Joshua 9:3-6, 14-15, 22-23
3 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4they on their part acted with cunning: they went and prepared provisions, and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, 5with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes; and all their provisions were dry and moldy. 6They went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the Israelites, "We have come from a far country; so now make a treaty with us." 14So the leaders partook of their provisions, and did not ask direction from the LORD.
15 And Joshua made peace with them, guaranteeing their lives by a treaty; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.
22 Joshua summoned them, and said to them, "Why did you deceive us, saying, 'We are very far from you,' while in fact you are living among us? 23Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall always be slaves, hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God."

Deceived
Gibeonites managed accommodation with Israel without military confrontation. They employed a ruse that worked to gain them a treaty of protection and inclusion into Israel. Two rather startling matters became apparent within Israel as a result of Gibeons deception. First, Israel’s leaders, even though somewhat suspicious, failed to inquire of God before signing the requested treaty (vs. 14). One would think that Joshua, having followed Moses for forty years, would have had that lesson down perfectly. Evidently, not. How about us? Do we ask for direction before we take large or small decisions to their conclusion?

Second, the congregation was quite unhappy with the leadership when they discovered how they had been duped. This experience harks back to the unhappiness of the congregation with the leadership under Moses in the wilderness, but with a new twist. Then the congregation was usually in the wrong and the leadership in the right. This time it is the congregation that is in the right and the leadership clearly in the wrong. In the past Moses simply asked direction from God on what to do with the congregation God took care of it. Not much possibility of that this time for the leaders error was in not consulting God to begin with. The result is that the leaders, Joshua included, are in a bind. They must please or at least satisfy the congregation. No more is their leadership taken as divine right. So the leaders responded in two ways. They said, it is too late, we have signed a treaty in YHWH’s name (vs. 19)! And Joshua, as judge, summoned the Gibeonite ambassadors and inquired of them as to why they had deceived him. As a result he passed sentence on them committing them virtually to slavery in perpetuity to the Israelite congregation, thus justifying himself before the people. Leadership is ever a challenging task, but how much more challenging it is when we do not advantage ourselves of God’s leadership and direction.

Self-Mastery
Bayard Taylor
1825-1878

Who, harnessed in his mail of Self, demands
To be men’s master and their sovran guide?—
Proclaims his place, and by sole right of pride
A candidate for love and reverence stands,
As if the power within his empty hands
Had fallen from the sky, with all beside,
So oft to longing and to toil denied,
That makes the leaders and the lords of lands?
He who would lead must first himself be led;
Who would be loved be capable to love
Beyond the utmost he receives, who claims
The rod of power must first have bowed
And being honored, honor what’s above:
This know the men who leave the world their names.
407:952

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