I’m continually surprised by God as we comb our way through the Old Testament. I mean, who’s calling the shots, here? Didn’t God specifically say that the Israelites were not to make treaties with the people of Canaan? (Yes, He did, in Deuteronomy 7:2.) He told them not to have anything to do with them so they wouldn’t be in danger of picking up their idolatrous practices.
So, when strange men showed up claiming to be from a faraway country, if there was any question as to where they were from, Joshua should have consulted the Lord! Alas, he did not: "The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath." (vs 14-15) And that’s how Joshua and the Israelites ended up swearing an oath to the Hivites.
In such a situation, what would God do? He had a lot of options, didn’t He? He could have told Joshua to rescind the promise—after all, it could have been considered an invalid contract since it was something God had previously forbidden. He could have punished the Israelites for not consulting Him before making such a rash promise. He could have struck all the Hivites dead and left the contract a moot point.
Instead, it’s interesting that what He chose to do was let the treaty stand. Even though the Israelites didn’t consult Him, even though their contract with the Hivites went directly against what He had commanded, and even though He was in the best position to see what would be best for the Israelites, He let them call the shots. Even though they had made a huge mistake, He treated the contract they had made as binding—so much so, in fact, that years later, Israel endured a three-year famine because King Saul had killed some of the Gibeonites in violation of the treaty. (Read all about it in 2 Samuel 21.)
God takes us seriously, and He really does give us the power to make decisions—even when those decisions are contrary to His ideal plan for us. He lets us call the shots, even when it’s not what He wants. How amazing it is that the all-powerful Creator of the Universe doesn’t hoard His own power! Whenever He can, He lets us call the shots.