Maybe you’ve never heard of the Gibeonites. I had certainly never paid much attention to them before the last few weeks. I have been teaching through Joshua in our middle school ministry and in Joshua 9 & 10, the Gibeonites play pretty important players in the story of the Israelites.

A little background: The Gibeonites are the inhabitants a Canaanite city. Joshua 10 says that “Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were warriors.” This important regional city of warriors seems like the perfect group of people to oppose the Israelites when they came to inhabit the promised land. But they didn’t.

What amazes me about the Gibeonites is how they became part of the people of God. In Joshua 9 we see how they heard about the reputation of God. Instead of fighting, they decide that it’s better to get on the Israelites good side. They devise a ruse in order become allies. Even when the Israelites learn of the deception they honor the treaty and the Gibeonites become servants in the temple.

In chapter 10 the treaty is put to the test. The other Canannite cities retaliate against the Gibeonites for aligning themselves with the Israelites and attack them. Israel, true to their word defends them and, with the help of God, defeats the attackers. God treats these pagan people just as if they were his own. Also, God makes the sun stand still in the sky to help them defeat the attackers (pretty cool).

Here’s what I love about the Gibeonites:

  1. They are grafted into the people of God and share in the benefits of God’s covenantal love. We too are brought into the family of God because of God’s covenantal love represented by Jesus.
  2. The Gibeonites risked alienated those around them because they knew that being on God’s side meant being on the right side…and they paid for it. We too must pay the price sometimes for aligning ourselves with Christ and his kingdom.
  3. God fights for the Gibeonites in the same way he fights for the Israelites. In the same way God is faithfully loyal to us even though we don’t deserve it.

As I read through the Bible, the older I get the more I realize that the miracles of the Bible (like making the sun stand still) amaze me less and less, but the CHARACTER OF God amazes me more and more.