They Asked Not Counsel – Pastor Stacey Shiflett

They Asked Not Counsel

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

Intro: In our text tonight, we notice that Joshua made a terrible mistake. I preached this on a Tuesday night of Prayer Conference back in 2017 but many of you were not here. As I looked at this passage again, I realized the urgency of this message. Too many people are making too many decisions without asking counsel. Too many people are paying the price for a lack of prayer.  Too many Christians think they do not need God. Let me be clear – you will never get to the spiritual state where you do not need to seek God’s face and God’s counsel for your decisions.

If there was anyone that could have put their spiritual life on “auto-pilot”, it was Joshua.

Notice where he was in his walk with God when this terrible mistake took place.

               A. Joshua was experiencing Great Progress

  • Joshua 4:1 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,

After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, they had FINALLY crossed into Canaan!

Joshua was experiencing the early days of his ministry what his predecessor had been trying to accomplish for 40 years.

Joshua was finally experiencing the victory that he had personally been longing for all his adult life.

He was no longer wandering in the wilderness – he had taken up residence in Canaan land!

But never assume because you are living in victory that you cannot fall due to a lack of prayer!

There are still giants in Canaan. There are still enemies in

               B. Joshua was experiencing God’s Promotion

  • Joshua 4:14 On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.

Joshua had gone from being the soldier to being the shepherd.

It’s so much better when God is the one promoting His man, instead of this self-promotion we see today!

Just because God has paved the way for you as a leader doesn’t mean you do not still need to pray!

  • God magnified Joshua.
  • All Israel knew that God was with him.
  • All the people feared him.
  • He reaped the respect and honor of a man that had been leading for 40 years.

This was even more of a reason for him to pray!

C. Joshua was experiencing Glowing Publicity

  • Joshua 6:27 So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.

Whoever said bad publicity is better than no publicity at all has never pastored a Baptist church!

News was spreading that God was with them, and this was the kind of fame you pray for!

God was with Joshua – there was no doubt about it.

The news – his fame – was not because he was a compromiser, but because he was doing things right.

God’s approval upon Joshua was because:

                              1. He was Deadly when it came to War – 8:1-29

Joshua was a fighting machine. 8:24-29

He wasn’t the least bit bothered by blood and guts.

  • vs. 26 – He drew not his hand back until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.

He didn’t dodge battle with his own people when they were wrong.

  • He dealt with internal problems without fear or favor. (7:22-26)

                              2. He was Dedicated when it came to Worship – 8:30, 31

They built an altar of WHOLE STONES.

He didn’t cut any corners in the area of worship.

Not small ones, not broken ones, not easy ones, not fragmented stones.

They didn’t look for stones that had been broken up or damaged in any way.

They worshipped at an altar build with stones that had not been tainted by man or man’s inventions.

They used the stones just the way God had made them. Unaltered and untouched by man.

They went ALL OUT.

               3. He was Diligent when it came to the Word

  • Joshua 8:32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
  • Joshua 8:34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.  There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

Nobody can accuse Joshua of being a slacker.

He didn’t just read a few verses and call it a day.

He wrote a copy of the law upon the stones!

He read all of it – he preached all of it – he reminded the congregation of all of it.

He was without a doubt – preaching the whole counsel of God.

But something happened in chapter 9 that should have never happened, and would have never happened – IF…



               I. Their Discernment was Inhibited

The prayer-filled believer is a Spirit-filled believer.

Spirit-filled believer is a discerning believer.

God communicates in great detail through prayer.

It is impossible to know God’s perfect will without praying.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to teach us all things and remind us of God’s Word.

The Bible is very clear in our text – they didn’t ask counsel of the mouth of the LORD.

QUESTION: Do you think for one second, that if they had just taken two minutes to ask the Lord, that He would not have given them something to let them know what was going on?

I Corinthians 2:9

  • 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
  • 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
  • 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
  • 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
  • 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
  • 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
  • 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

Joshua had already experienced the power of prayer in the area of spiritual, supernatural discernment.


After prayer, our sense of discernment is heightened by God.

Joshua was able to pinpoint the exact culprit that was guilty after the botched battle of Ai.

QUESTION: How hard is it to kneel and ask, “Lord, please show me what to do?”How many parents miss what is going on with their children because their discernment has been inhibited by lack of prayer?

How many spouses cannot discern what is wrong in their marriage simply because they have failed to pray?

How many church members cannot discern when there is a spiritual battle raging in the service because they have not spent any time in prayer?

How many pastors have missed something in their church because they “asked not counsel of the mouth of the Lord?”

How many Christians have missed open doors to witness or serve because they have no discernment?

               II. Their Deception was Inevitable

Note verse 4 – …they did work wililyshrewdness, craftiness,

Satan is a master at “sleight of hand”.

  • Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Isn’t it amazing how quickly Joshua forgot what God said, even after having just READ it word for word?? (Josh. 8:34, 35)

Isn’t it amazing how quickly Joshua forget what God said having just WRITTEN it in stone??

If Satan can keep you distracted writing and preaching, he will let you write and preach all day long!

These Gibeonites showed up and was able to pull the wool over Joshua’s eyes because he FAILED TO PRAY!

NOTE: Sometimes, things are not what they appear to be.

This story is a prime example.

  • the sacks were old – vs. 4
  • the wine bottles were old and rent and bound up – vs. 4
  • the shoes were old and clouted – vs. 5
  • the garments were old – vs. 5
  • the bread was dry and moldy – vs. 5

The facts were blatantly obvious! What was there to pray about?

Oh – I don’t know. Just the possibility that everything they were looking at, everything they heard, everything they feeling was all just ONE BIG FAT LIE!!

If you operate based only on your natural senses, you will be deceived.

We need godly discernment!

You can’t go on your feelings! Your feelings are unreliable sources of truth.

III. Their Disobedience was Irreversible

Note verse 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.”

This was EXACTLY what God had told them NOT to do!

God’s CommandmentDeut. 6:1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;  And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

Because THEY ASKED NOT COUNSEL AT THE MOUTH OF THE LORD, their discernment was inhibited, their deception was inevitable, and it produced an act of disobedience that was irreversible.

  • Misinformation produces mistakes and misdeeds.
  • Lies produce liabilities.
  • Failure to ask of God will produce actions that are not of God.
  • Lack of prayer will produce loss of perception.

See verse 18-20 – Here’s the sad part – THEY COULD NOT REVERSE THEIR DISOBEDIENCE.

Joshua asks a dumb question in verse 22 – Wherefore have ye beguiled us??


  • They were forced to live with the decision they had made without first praying.
  • They had no other alternative than to make the best of a really bad decision.
  • They couldn’t undo it – they couldn’t redo it – they were stuck with the results of direct disobedience.

All that was left for Joshua to do was to try and turn his liability into an asset.

All he could do was to try and turn his terrible mistake into something that could benefit.

He made them hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of God. – vs. 21


Notice what happens when you and I pray in the Holy Ghost

  • John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
  • Prayer will produce discernment.
  • Prayer will perceive deception.
  • Prayer will prevent disobedience.

This entire disaster would have been avoided if in verse 14, they had simply taken time to ask counsel at the mouth of the Lord.