Sunday Sermon: ‘We Mess Up and God Helps Us’


Have you ever been deceived? We all have. A few years ago while we were on vacation, they kept showing this commercial on TV over and over again about this device that would help you do sit-ups. The people who modeled it had ripped abs and it just looked so convincing, and so you guessed it – I bought it. And I did several hundred sit-ups and nothing changed. Would it have eventually helped if I had kept going? Maybe, maybe not. Here’s something even worse about all of this, there are people out there who make a good living selling us this junk. And even worse, we keep buying it! We’re so gullible.

I. ‘How Could I Have Been So Deceived?’

I’ve entitled today’s message – ‘We Mess Up and God Helps Us.’ I’m sure a lot of pastors could have come up with a more creative title, yet – ‘We Mess Up and God Helps Us’, pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? We mess up, and God helps us. Praise the Lord that He does.

A. The Deception

Joshua 9:1 And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof; 2 That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.

3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, 4 They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their donkeys, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; 5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. 6 And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us.

The men of Gibeon carefully disguised themselves to make it appear that they had traveled from somewhere well beyond the land of Canaan. In vs. 9 they tell Joshua, “We are from a very far country…’ Vs. 12  This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy: 13 And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long  journey.

They pretended that they were from somewhere very far away but the truth was, Gibeon was a whopping twenty miles down the road. One day’s journey. Gibeon was one of the largest towns in the area and probably next on Joshua’s list to conquer. Yet these men were very shrewd. They were masters of deception.

The Bible goes to great extent to warn us about being deceived.

Pr 20:1  Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Wine is a deceiver and so is the way of the world. The wrong kind of friends can deceive us and so can our own foolish pride. Jesus said that false religions will deceive many and sometimes, even men and women who know God can be deceived. Paul wrote to the Corinthians –

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled (deceived) Eve through his subtilty, (craftiness) so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity (simple purity) that is in Christ.

“I fear that by Satan’s craftiness, he will deceive you and lead you away from the simple purity of walking with Christ.” Why else would a Christian leave their first love? 

B. Why was Joshua and the elders of Israel so gullible?

1. Perhaps there was some pride involved.

a. Just come off the victory at Ai. Do you know when you are the most vulnerable to being deceived? It’s when everything is going well.

Luke 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

b. Lot of great Christians who fall when they are at their highest

i. Adam and Eve fell during their honeymoon

ii. David fell at the height of his career

iii. Simon Peter fell during the time he was becoming a great leader

iv. Lucifer fell while worshiping

2. I would imagine that there was some pity

a. Something in our nature as Christians that makes us naive

b. We start thinking that all the world is as good-natured as God’s people

c. Yet Jesus says to us, ‘Behold , I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.’ (Mt 10:16)

3. Maybe there was some preoccupation

a. There was a lot going on in the lives of Joshua and his men.

i. Their families were still unsettled and not yet established in homes and regular lifestyles.

ii. There was a major conflict brewing on the horizon.

iii. There minds were filled with a million things

Matthew 13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.


i. There’s a lot of growth, excitement and activity going on in our church, yet we need to beware that we never lose focus of what’s the most important. We’re here to share the gospel and help people live the Christian life.

ii. Earning money and trying to make a living

iii. Families

(I) So often families get caught up in life and begin to think: ‘There’s too much going on. We’ve got to cut something out!’

(A) Problem is that too often what we choose to cut out is what our family needs the most

(B) Growing relationship with Jesus Christ

(II) Our families can survive without: new cars, bigger houses, more toys and shelf full of trophies

(III) Our families can’t survive without a real and growing relationship with Jesus Christ

(A) To do so is like the foolish man who tried to build his house on the sand. He heard and he knew, but he didn’t do. God’s Word wasn’t his lifestyle.

(B) But then one day, the storms came and his house crashed

3. Without a doubt, there was a whole lot of prayerlessness

Joshua 1:14 And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.

It’s hard to believe that Joshua and his men made this kind of decision without first praying. Maybe their prayerlessness was due to pride. Maybe they thought that they didn’t have to pray about everything. I believe that their prayerlessness had a lot to do with preoccupation. I say that because I am guilty of the same all the time.

II. ‘What Will I Do Now That I Am In This Dilemma?’

Joshua 9:14 And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD. 15 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.

16 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 neighbours, and that they dwelt among them. 17 And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim. 18 And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes.

Joshua 10:1 Now it came to pass, when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among  them; 2 That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.

3 Wherefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoh-am king of Hebron, and unto Pi-ram king of Jar-muth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. 5 Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it.

6 And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us.

A. Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

1. Gibeonites are their enemies; part of those they are supposed to destroy

2. Now they have sworn an alliance with them

a. Did it matter?

b. Was Joshua really obligated since Gibeon had deceived them?

c. Surely Joshua could have found some kind of loop-hole to get him out of all of this. Or maybe all he had to do was drag his feet in getting there and the other kings would take care of his problem for him.

3. Joshua wasn’t that kind of man. He was a man of his word.

B. Joshua did what everyone should do when they have messed up. He did what was right and trusted God to help him.

III. ‘Praise God That He Delivers’

There are three words that will help us understand what happened next: Integrity, Industry and Intervention.

A. Integrity

I’m sure that it was a pretty embarrassing day for Joshua and the elders when they discovered that they had been deceived. Scripture says all the congregation murmured against the princes.’ Therefore it would have been pretty easy for Joshua to look for a loop-hole to get out of his mess. When the men of Gibeon called for help, it would have been easy for Joshua to have said, “Hey, you deceived us! We’re not obligated to do anything.” Or Joshua and his army could have dragged their feet in helping them. Maybe in a week or two, when we have more time, we’ll be there. Joshua could have delayed in doing what was right and let the five kings take care of his problem. But Joshua wasn’t that kind of a man. He was a man of his word and when he made a mistake, he owned up to it. I believe that Joshua’s integrity is a part of the reason the God of Integrity helped him.

Joshua 10:7 So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour. 8 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. 9 Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. 10 And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon …

Romans 8:28 is a great promise we often claim – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” ‘All things work together for good…’ God is able to take a bad situation and make something good out of it and that’s exactly what He did that day for Joshua and the armies of Israel.

Joshua 10:42 And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.

Before that day was over, Joshua had killed all five kings and their armies.

B. Industry

The second key word for understanding this story is ‘Industry.’ Joshua didn’t look for loop-holes, nor did he sit back and wait for God to hand him the victory. Joshua put his shoulder to the wheel and God helped him move it. Here’s why I say this.

Joshua 10:6 And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us. 7 So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour. 8 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. 9 Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.

The march from Gilgal to Gibeon involved a climb of 3,300 feet in elevation, and a distance of about twenty miles. It took Joshua and his men eight to ten hours of hard marching, all through the night, in order to be there the next morning. Yet they did it. They gave it everything they had. Many years ago when I was in college, I learned something valuable about my relationship with God. God blesses hard work. God will not automatically put the answers in your head for the big test, but He will help you study and He will help you reap the benefits of your study. I used to study Greek on my knees. I studied a little and I prayed a little and somehow I got through. Actually I know how – God got me through it!

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Proverbs 6:6, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” The ant has no one ruling over them, yet the work all summer to provide what they will need for the winter.

C. Intervention

And the last word is ‘Intervention.” Because Joshua was a man of integrity and industry, God intervened on his behalf. No matter how bleak your circumstances look, always remember this – you and God make a majority.

Joshua 10:42 And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.

God intervened in two amazing ways:

1. God Went Before Them

Joshua 10:11 And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died : they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.

God killed most of the enemy that day with a hailstorm.

2. God Enabled Them

Joshua 10:12 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed , until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. 14 And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.

There’s a great passage for the skeptic to scoff. “It’s impossible that God could cause the sun to stand still. It would disrupt our entire solar system.” The sun didn’t stand still. The earth did. The sun doesn’t revolve around the earth. The earth revolves around the sun. But could the earth stand still and it not cause some type of cosmic catastrophe?

I don’t think that the sun remained in one exact spot all day and then dropped like a rock at sunset. Personally I believe that the Lord made it seem like time stood still. How? Somehow the Lord caused there to be daylight longer that day. How could He do that?

There’s a couple of interesting things we need to consider. First of all, in the beginning, God was able to produce light for the earth, without the sun. Scripture says that God created light on the first day and it was not until the fourth day that He created the sun. Explain that one!

Which brings up another interesting thought. There will be no sun in heaven, yet there will be light. What will be the light of heaven? Revelation 21:23 ‘And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.’ Perhaps all Joshua needed that day was the presence of God with them.


Let’s face it – we mess up all the time. But praise the Lord that He help us. One of our favorite verses here at Twin Oaks is Romans 8:28. I’ve used it once already in today’s message. But let’s consider it once again.

  • And we know – So much of life is uncertain. It’s good to know that you can know some things for sure …
  • that all things – … the good things and the bad things; even our failures. All things …
  • work together for good – … bad things don’t have to be the end of the story. God is able and willing to make something good out of it …
  • to them that love God, – … for those who truly love the Lord and want to please Him …
  • to them who are the called according to his purpose. – … for those who will let God accomplish His will in their lives.

Maybe you’re at a stage in life and you’re wondering, ‘How could I have been so deceived and what will I do now that I am in this dilemma?’ I’ve got good news for you. God helps us. God is able to take your bad situation and make something good of it, if you will do as Joshua and turn everything over to Him.

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