Weekly Devotionals

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
(Joshua 9)

Josh McCrary

There are a certain kind of red ants that have a passion for the sweet, glandular substance given off by the caterpillar of a species of large blue butterfly. They can become so “addicted” to it that they even seek out “the blue butterfly” and carry him to their nest with delight. This caterpillar will drop itself from a tree into the path of a red ant. The red ant will carry the caterpillar back to the nest, then the caterpillar will feed on the larvae of the ant colony.

In doing so, they unwittingly bring home an enemy in disguise, because the caterpillar gorges himself exclusively on one food item: ant larva. Usually such a threat to the colony would be repelled with great vigor, but the adults enjoy the tasty secretions of the “guest” so much that they are oblivious of the fact that their young are being devoured in the process. The ants find out far too late that their enemy is A Little Too Close For Comfort.

This story is very similar to an account in the Bible that tells us about Joshua and Israel in Joshua chapter 9. In these verses, we see Israel becoming a little too cozy with their enemies.

The people of Israel are preparing to march deeper into Canaan to claim the land the Lord had given to them. They now have a couple of victories under their belts, but before they can move forward to future victories, Israel must learn a valuable lesson: many times they allowed their enemies to “hang around” a little too closely. Satan is an enemy who wants to “hang around” closely too.

The writer would like to notice that Satan can be “Too Close For Comfort.” The writer would like to notice three points in this article from Joshua chapter nine, which are as follows: (1) Our Enemy Is DECEPTIVE, (2) Our Enemy Is DESTRUCTIVE, and (3) Our Enemy Is DEFEATED.

First, notice: OUR ENEMY IS DECEPTIVE. Notice the text: “And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us? Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God” (Joshua 9:22-23).

When the Gibeonites heard that the Israelites were headed in their direction, they devised a scheme to trick Israel into making a peace treaty with them. They dressed in old clothes, carried old bread and wine and pretended that they were from far away. They did everything in their power to trick Israel.

Satan works in the same way today. Paul wrote: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11). The word “wiles” is the Greek word “methodia” which is where the English language gets the word: “method.” Satan uses many “methods” to trap God’s people and the Gibeonites are a picture of the devil and his DECEPTION.

I wonder: What did the devil tell Cain to get him to kill Abel? What did the devil tell David to get him to sleep with Bathsheba? What did the devil tell Judas to get him to betray the Lord Jesus? You see, the devil is very DECEPTIVE.

Second, notice: OUR ENEMY IS DESTRUCTIVE. Notice the text: “And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors, and that they dwelt among them” (Joshua 9:14-16). The Gibeonites had deceived them into making the league with them which lead the children of Israel not to seek counsel from the Lord. A nation is in destruction when they quit seeking God. David wrote: “The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

Third, notice: OUR ENEMY IS DEFEATED. When Joshua found out what these people had done, he went straight to them and rebuked them and confronted them about their sins. There is a lesson in that for the church today. We do not have to roll over and play dead while the devil molds us to his will! James wrote: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” (James 4:7).

In your life and mine, there will be times when we will step out of the Lord’s will and commit sin. That is just a fact! However, the mistakes we make in following the devil do not have to be permanent, neither do they have to destroy us completely! Thank God, the Lord has promised us complete forgiveness and restoration if we will return to Him in repentance, 1 John 1:9.

Joshua and Israel thought they were making a treaty with people from a far away land. Instead, they found themselves shackled to the enemy! The people they were to avoid at all costs were now A Little Too Close For Comfort.

There is a story about a certain man who wanted to sell his house in Haiti for $2,000. Another man wanted to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn’t afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.

After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.

The moral of the story is, “If we leave the devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation.” Someone once said: “Give Satan and inch and he will become your ruler.”
Satan is just waiting on opportunities for us to make a league with him so that we will sell our souls. May we all be aware of his strategies and be aware of our lives so that we do not fall prey to His deception and destruction.