Today’s pace, at least here in the West, is fast. Folks are moving quickly and because of this often make decisions rapidly. However, sometimes those decisions are made with a lack of proper consideration. There’s not enough time spent understanding the truths behind the decision and what the ramifications are.
At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. – Joshua 9:16-18, ESV
Joshua and the elders of Israel made a peace treaty with a group of people whom they thought were far away. They then found out the people weren’t a long way off. As we can see from the verses quoted here, they were only three days’ march away. Israel’s leadership had made the peace treaty not understanding the whole situation. Had they known that the people they were dealing with were near by, they might not have made the treaty.
To the leaders’ credit, they maintained their integrity and kept to the covenant, even after learning of the deception. However, this hasty decision would put the Israelites unexpectedly back into battle. In Joshua 10 we learn that others around these cities were worried about the alliance. As a result, they attacked these four cities. Because of the nature of the treaty, the Israelites were brought into the conflict. We see similar parallels later on in history. World War I is a great example.
As God often does, He comes through in spite of the Israelites’ hastiness. We see God do something miraculous, because Joshua 10 is where we have the recollection of how God made the sun stand still so the armies of Israel could complete the rout on the battlefield. However, the case remains that had Joshua and the elders not rushed into the decision to make the peace treaty, they wouldn’t have had to fight at the time that they did. Certainly they wouldn’t have had to face an allied, composite army without preparation like they did.
We can learn from Joshua and the elders by being careful with our decisions. We must try to have the information we need before we commit to a choice. There is often more harm than good in rushing.
Of course, there is the opposite problem, what we call “paralysis by analysis” (and various forms of that), which is when we keep wanting more and more information and we never end up making the decision. We don’t want to make that mistake, either. Therefore, we need to understand timing. Do we have all the information we need to make the decision by the time the decision has to be made? For complex decisions, that usually isn’t the case. Therefore, we need to be ready to make the choice with what we have. However, even facing the reality that we likely won’t have all the information we would want, we should still discipline ourselves to try and make as informed decisions as possible.