The Old Testament is filled with interesting little stories. We often miss these stories because, as Christians, we tend to focus on the New Testament. When we do this we miss out on wealth of knowledge that the Old Testament contains.
One of the stories that I think is worth discussing is found in Joshua 9. This is the account of when Israel made a treaty, otherwise known as a covenant, with the Canannite tribe of Gibeon.
The Gibeonites heard about the victories over Jericho and Ai that God had given Israel. They probably heard about the parting of the Jordan River and the other miracles God had performed on behalf of Israel. From this Gibeon concluded that they could not resist Israel.
The Gibeonites did not want to engage the Israelites in battle. Instead they devised a plan to trick Israel. Men from the town dressed up as ambassadors. To complete the look they even outfitted these ambassadors with moldy bread and torn wine skins to make it seem like they had traveled a great distance. From their actions it appears that Gibeon knew that God allowed Israel to enter into alliances with distant countries, but not with the people who lived in Canaan. The hope of the Gibeonites was to deceive Israel and enter into an alliance with God’s people.
Joshua and the leaders of Israel listened to the story of the ambassadors, saw their moldy beard and torn wine skins, and entered into a treaty with the Gibeonites. They did this without consulting God. When the ruse was discovered the leaders of Israel would not let Israel attack, because they had entered into the treaty by the name of God.
Israel made two mistakes in this situation.
- The Israelites allowed the appearance of things to distract them from reality. They took things at face value and did not dig deeper into what the truth was.
- The Israelites did not seek God’s guidance. They completely trusted what the saw, and did not think it was necessary to ask God for His discernment, because it seemed like the logical thing to do.
I think this account provides us with a cautionary tale. As Christians living in the United States we are tempted to make alliances with people and political parties. It seems like the logical thing to do because they seem to be fighting for what we hold dear and to be aligned with many of our core beliefs. Yet, one wonders if these allegiances actually hinder our mission as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Democratic Party’s message of equality and fairness seems to be such a great message. While there are features of the Democratic platform a Christian could not support, namely abortion, it is also true that we long to see people rescued from poverty and for people to be treated equally. The promises made by the Democratic Party, superficially, seem to be the very goals that God desires to bring into this world. A deeper and more discerning look at how the Democrats plan to bring about this change reveals the moldy bread of the promises. More often than not there are unintended consequences to their actions. These unintended consequences end up making things worse.
Other Christians have been distracted by conservative promises of pro-life and pro-marriage platforms. There is nothing more precious in this world than human life, and we need to fight for it, but we should have learned by now politics is a poor vehicle to make that happen. The Republican party, despite of what they may say, is more interested in being in power than in protecting life. If they can make a promise to secure your vote then they will do it. The moldy bread the Republicans offer is seen in their failure to live up to their many conservative campaign promises.
When we get deceived by the moldy bread of a political party we will give them our allegiance and give time and money to get the “right” people elected and miss out on really touching the lives of other people. The greatest thing that we as Christians can do to make a difference in this world is live a life of faith and love. This is how we make ourselves lights in a dark world and show people that there is a better way to live.
God has given us a great opportunity in this country to be able to participate in the political process. We need to stay informed about what is happening and find opportunities to participate in the process. This is how we can be good stewards of our United States citizenship.
I also think that it is dangerous to give our allegiance to a party or a candidate. The greatest hope this country has is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel is found the power to change the hearts of people. Our allegiance must be to Jesus before anything else. Where does your allegiance lie?