And the house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and the LORD was with them. So the house of Joseph sent men to spy out Bethel. (The name of the city was formerly Luz.) And when the spies saw a man coming out of the city, they said to him, “Please show us the entrance to the city, and we will show you mercy.” So he showed them the entrance to the city, and they struck the city with the edge of the sword; but they let the man and all his family go. And the man went to the land of the Hittites, built a city, and called its name Luz, which is its name to this day.
In the midst of a litany of failures, we get one solid success story. Since Jacob declared Joseph’s two sons to be his own, they fathered separate tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh). Thus, “the house of Joseph” seems to be a reference to both tribes working together. That’s nice, but it won’t last.
It’s working now though. Together, they send spies to Bethel. What happens next is remarkably providential.
The spies encounter a random man coming out of the city and say to him, “Please show us the entrance to the city, and we will show you mercy.” That’s nuts. They’ve just jeopardized the mission by revealing to a perfect stranger that they’re going to do something where he’ll need their mercy. This looks ridiculous, but it ultimately works. Clearly, God blessed them.
And I just love that they said, “Please.” In all the annals of war, this might be the only example of the use of “please” when asking someone to betray his country.
They’re going to kill everyone in the city, but at least they’re polite about it.
The takeaway from this passage is that this “random” encounter with the man coming out of the city was anything but random. God was blessing this mission, and the spies knew it. They did things that showed that they were counting on God’s blessing.
That’s the true definition of faith. If you really believe something, you’re going to act like it. If you say you believe one thing, but act like you believe something else, then the something else is what you actually believe.
My favorite example of this is someone who says, “I know I have to stop smoking,” but they’re not doing anything to stop. The contradiction could be with the word “know”, or maybe with the words “have to”, but there’s a contradiction in there somewhere.
And the statement, “I know I have to stop smoking,” can be totally honest. The person isn’t lying, he or she is just not taking it seriously.
This horrifying principle even applies to confessions of faith in Jesus as Lord.
It’s possible to not know that you don’t really believe.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.