When the Flowers Fade and the Chocolates Turn to Fat

Bible Reading: Joshua 9; 10; 11; 12

Israel's neighboring enemies, the Gibeonites, "resorted to a ruse" (9:4) when they heard about Joshua's war victories. They loaded their donkeys with cracked wineskins and thin sacks filled with dry, moldy bread. Wearing shabby clothing and worn-out sandals, they pretended to be delegates from a distant country who had been sent to make a treaty with Israel. Though suspicious at first, Joshua and his men were fooled by the scam. "The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord" (9:14). Three days after a peace treaty was ratified, the Israelites discovered that the strangers were actually their neighbors. "The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, but all the leaders answered, 'We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now....' So the leaders' promise to them was kept" (9:18-21).

Even though Joshua had been deceived, God expected him to honor his oath. Though it violated God's instruction to make no treaties with the inhabitants of the land, God still used the alliance to help Joshua's army defeat other enemies.

Marriage is another oath which must be taken seriously, even if it was entered into somewhat blindly. Most suitors don't put on ragged clothing, ride over-laden donkeys, and carry moldy bread, but they do wear shiny armor, ride a white horse, and carry flowers and chocolates! Couples can be fooled by appearances and may fail to "inquire of the Lord" before committing to each other.

Even though my husband and I sought the Lord's will about our marriage and tried to be honest with each other in our dating relationship, we both still encountered many surprises and found plenty of things to grumble about after we got married. But we made our vows before God and 300 witnesses and so our promise to each other was kept. Choosing to obey the promise of love during the most difficult days of our marriage has made that love grow deeper and stronger. God has helped us defeat many enemies to our marriage: selfishness, anger, bitterness, spitefulness, pride.... We now barely resemble the couple that knelt at that altar over twenty years ago. God has reshaped more than just our bodies! My husband's "armor" is now a little rusty and much too small, but I see God shining through him in new ways.