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Hope for the Day

Short-term solutions

Diane Houghtaling
Posted 3/31/23

In the past when I’ve read the story of how the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites in Joshua chapter nine, I primarily focused on Israel not seeking God’s wisdom or guidance, and simply …

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Hope for the Day

Short-term solutions


In the past when I’ve read the story of how the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites in Joshua chapter nine, I primarily focused on Israel not seeking God’s wisdom or guidance, and simply believing the Gibeonites based on false evidence. But this time I saw the story from a different perspective, that of the deceivers.

The Gibeonites had heard of Israel’s success in conquering nearby towns, and they knew they would soon be next. So the leaders quickly strategized and came up with a plan to save their lives. They would attempt to deceive the Israelites into thinking they had traveled from a far-distant land and ask for a treaty with them.

They put weathered saddlebags on their donkeys, took along old, cracked wineskins and dry, moldy bread, and wore ragged, patched clothes and worn-out sandals. Then their delegation of ambassadors rode into the Israelite camp with their concocted story of coming from afar, and asked to make a treaty with them.

Joshua and the Israelite leaders examined all the evidence they presented and decided to believe their story without first asking the Lord. They signed a treaty with the Gibeonites, which meant they could never conquer them and would have to protect them from other enemies.

Soon after making the treaty, the Israelites learned that the delegation actually lived close by. They traveled three days and came to the town of Gibeon, demanding answers. The Gibeonites confessed they’d heard that the Israelites’ God had given them all the land, and they greatly feared for their lives. But there was nothing Joshua could do now that they had a treaty. So he made the Gibeonites their slaves. They would be the woodcutters and water carriers for the Israelites all their days.

The Gibeonites’ fear caused them to look for a swift, short-term solution to their problem. Although their quick thinking had saved their lives, their deception produced a long-term problem. They had lost their freedom and would now be slaves for the rest of their lives.

Lying is never a good short-term solution. As with the Gibeonites, we may think we got away with it and everything will be alright, but somewhere down the line our lies are usually always found out, causing long-term problems we never bargained for.

Most times short-term solutions are just that, and can end up creating long-term complications and even slavery. When we try to solve financial difficulties by borrowing more than we can realistically pay back, or running up credit card debt, we become slaves to the lenders (see Proverbs 22:7).

Many try to fill the void, loneliness and sorrow in their lives by medicating the pain with addictive substances. This short-term solution not only doesn’t work, but the long-term effects of addiction lead to slavery that consumes and ruins their lives.

Others have fallen into destructive relationships that looked good at first and met their short-term needs, but eventually led to the long-term pain of abuse, rejection, broken hearts and wounded emotions.

But there is a long-term answer to any problem we may face instead of becoming slaves to short-term solutions. We have a God who loves us and desires only good for us. Jesus invites us to leave our lives of slavery behind as He offers us new life in Him. He asks us to turn to Him first to seek His wisdom and guidance to our problems, and He will show us a better way.

Hope Ministries is a Christian counseling center, and we are here to help. If you would like to speak confidentially with someone, give us a call at 845-482-5300.


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