Detecting Danger and Staying Safe

Dangers are ever present, threatening us in differing ways and in diverse life situations. Age and marital status play no role in this. A survey among believers regarding current dangers would reveal a variety of threats that affect all of us. It is almost impossible to capture them all, and not every danger affects everyone equally. For example, the road sign “Sharp Curve” poses no real concern to someone taking a leisurely drive through the countryside. However, for someone who passes him at high speed, there is grave danger, especially if he decides to ignore the warning. 

To protect ourselves from danger, it is crucial to recognize it. The devil does not announce his presence with the words, “Hello, I am the devil, and I intend to bring you down.” He is a master of deception. He comes incognito with skillful cunning and deceit.

An incident described in Joshua 9 reinforces this conclusion. The Israelites were on the verge of conquering the promised land of Canaan with divine help. This was to be their new home after eliminating the people living there. However, a small local tribe felt threatened by the God of Israel and His people. They feared the same fate as those already conquered. Therefore, they devised a plan to deceive God’s people through trickery. This deceit was so skillfully executed that even today it is referred to as the “Gibeonite deception.” Despite living nearby, the Gibeonites pretended to have traveled a great distance. They dressed accordingly, and the Bible says: “And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy” (vv. 4b-5). In this garb, they approached Joshua and the men of Israel. Their goal was to make a pact with Israel to secure their safety. Although making a covenant with the inhabitants of the land was forbidden by God, it was permissible to do so with people living outside. Hence, the Gibeonites created this deception by pretending to come from far away in order to secure a treaty.

Put yourself in the position of Joshua and the elders of Israel. The evidence seemed obvious: worn-out shoes and all the other items supported the story of the long journey. One could almost exclaim, “Caution, danger!” But who could warn them? The deception was so convincing that they were caught off guard. A sad sentence is recorded in the Bible: “Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD” (v. 14). Shortly thereafter, the Israelites reached the city of Gibeon. As they prepared to take the city, the covenant not to harm them was presented to them. They had not recognized the danger and were deceived.

This example illustrates that we must be vigilant. Where deception is involved, even a great danger may seem harmless. Convincing camouflage can mislead us to carelessly stumble into danger. Similarly, the Israelites relied on their own cleverness and accepted the “old, patched sandals” as evidence instead of seeking the Lord’s counsel.

This reminds me of the words in Proverbs 3:5-6, written by a wise man almost 3000 years ago. This saying has not lost significance to this day. It is advisable to take these words to heart and always remember them.

Verse 5 states: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Never before have people been as extensively educated as they are right now. Education is especially valued today, and minds are filled with knowledge. Nevertheless, Solomon urges his descendants (and us) to trust completely in the Lord and not rely solely on their own understanding. In figurative language, we should “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight”(Revised Standard Version). This was the Israelite leaders’ mistake; instead of asking the Lord for advice, they relied on their own insight. The verse encourages us to always consider the Lord in all aspects of life, ask Him for advice, and trust in His guidance.

Verse 6a says: “In all your ways acknowledge Him.” Instead of looking for reasons to support our own opinion, we are urged to think of the Lord. This “acknowledging Him” means seeking His advice, asking Him, and listening to His leading. The reasons for this are obvious: God is not only omniscient but also all-wise. He has a broader perspective than we have with our limited view. He comprehends the plans of the powers of darkness and recognizes the reality behind the “old, patched sandals.” In all your ways, whether in questions or decisions, direct your gaze upward and trust in divine guidance.

Verse 6b: “And He shall direct your paths.” This promise states that the Lord will lead those who rely on Him on the right path. This applies to all aspects of life and decisions. God warns of impending dangers so we can recognize and avoid them. This is about our safety and reaching our heavenly goal.

It would be advisable to post these two verses in a prominent place in our home as a reminder to always prompt us. This will also be enduring advice for our children as they grow and develop. During family discussions, we can reiterate this advice to rely on the Lord in times of uncertainty and seek His guidance on the right path.

Harry Semenjuk

Wetaskiwin, Alberta

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