But when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins. They put on worn-out, patched sandals and ragged clothes. And the bread they took with them was dry and moldy. When they arrived at the camp of Israel at Gilgal, they told Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant land to ask you to make a peace treaty with us.” The Israelites replied to these Hivites, “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.” They replied, “We are your servants.” “But who are you?” Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?” They answered, “Your servants have come from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the Lord your God and of all he did in Egypt. We have also heard what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River—King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan (who lived in Ashtaroth). So our elders and all our people instructed us, ‘Take supplies for a long journey. Go meet with the people of Israel and tell them, “We are your servants; please make a treaty with us.”’ “This bread was hot from the ovens when we left our homes. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and split open. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our very long journey.” So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord.
Dear God, I doubt Robert McNamara coined the phrase The Fog of War, but I pretty much link it to him. My wife and I grasped onto the phrase several years ago when we were going through some family struggles. It can be so easy to evaluate a situation and think about what you would do from the outside looking in, but it is so much harder when you are in the middle of it.
I was skimming through the Book of Joshua this morning looking for a biblical parent when I ran across this story. Verse 14 is the kicker. The Israelites, including Joshua, used their own wisdom, “but they did not consult [you].” I felt immediate conviction. I know I am guilty of this all of the time. And I will say that, in the midst of some of my wars I have consulted you and still found myself confused and unsure, but that is maybe, maybe 5% of the time. The rest of the time I try to use my own mind, “wisdom,” and intuition to solve the problem myself.
I was talking with my wife yesterday about a friend of hers that seems to be making some irrational decisions when it comes to some children from her husband’s first marriage. There is a lot of conflict with a teenaged daughter. Sitting from our perspective, not being in the middle of the fight every day it is easy to pass judgment on my wife’s friend’s actions. “Oh, she shouldn’t do this.” “Oh, she should let that go and just love her.” Yeah, easier said that done. The fog of war is murky at best and blinding at worst. Just within the last couple of months I allowed myself to be hurt by someone else’s actions and I almost, almost struck back. Thankfully, I waited. I waited on you. I prayed. And in my prayer you gave me a revelation of something that might have caused the person that hurt me to do the thing they did. I ended up doing nothing and ultimately just gave that person love. Thank you for that victory.
Father, there are so many decisions ahead of me. I have a lot at work. I have a lot with friends and family. I have a lot of decisions that need to be made just today. I’m sorry for when I’ve failed you. I’m sorry for not consulting you and waiting on your reply. Sometimes, much like Saul when he went ahead and did the sacrifice to you without waiting for Samuel, I get out ahead of you and do things my own way. Thank you for this reminder to wait on you.
In Jesus’s name I pray,
P.S. Joshua was such an amazing man of faith, I feel bad pointing out what is one of the very few times he made a mistake, but I suppose we learn more from others’ and our own mistakes than we do from our successes.