9. THE FIRST FRUITS BELONG TO THE LORD.
Joshua 8:2 - "And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it."
God required His portion first among the spoils of Canaan. Jericho was the first city they took and the spoils therefore belonged to God. The plunder from the other cities would belong to the people. Today we are wise to give God His portion first! Failing to give generously to the LORD is a mistake (cf. II Cor. 9:6-9).
10. DON'T BE DECEIVED BY APPEARANCES; SEEK COUNCIL FROM GOD.
"But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. 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. And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, 'We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.' Then the men of Israel said to the Hivites, 'Perhaps you dwell among us; so how can we make a covenant with you?' But they said to Joshua, 'We are your servants.' And Joshua said to them, 'Who are you, and where do you come from?' So they said to him: 'From a very far country your servants have come, because of the name of the LORD your God; for we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt, and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan--to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth. Therefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, "Take provisions with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say to them, 'We are your servants; now therefore, make a covenant with us.'" This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy. And these wineskins which we filled were new, and see, they are torn; and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey.' Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD."I realize that's a lengthy reading for one practical lesson, but this one is really important. The Israelites should have checked things out more thoroughly before entering into an agreement with the Gibeonites. It would not have been hard to inquire of the Lord regarding the matter, but they simply didn't do it. Today, it is not hard to inquire of the Lord and consult His word for council (cf. Psa. 119:105), but often we make judgments based on appearances alone and we end up in the dark, deceived (cf. Jer. 10:23).
11. BE A PERSON OF YOUR WORD, EVEN IF IT COSTS YOU.
"So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them. And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them. Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim. But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers. Then all the rulers said to all the congregation, 'We have sworn to them by the LORD God of Israel; now therefore, we may not touch them. This we will do to them: We will let them live, lest wrath be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them.' And the rulers said to them, 'Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers for all the congregation, as the rulers had promised them.'"