Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:31-33)
God, who loves His children, is always with us, and carefully watching over everything happening in our lives.
Joshua and the Israelites experienced the loving God many times. However, their memory was short-lived and they were prone to forget. Instead, their hearts were quickly filled up with what they wanted and valued most, and especially their own egos. It was very hard to take off their egos so tightly clinging to them. Intellectually knowing God was not enough. Indeed, they had full of knowledge about the God, who freed them from the Egypt, made them walk on dry land through the Red Sea, provided manna in the middle of the wilderness for forty years, made them cross the Jordon river on foot during the harvest season when the water level was the highest, and gave them the huge victory over Jericho by just shouting to the invincible wall of Jericho in faith. Even so, they repeatedly put themselves before God. Joshua and his leaders made a treaty with the Gibeonites only by relying on their wisdom and doing their own diligence without asking God. Where was God in their hearts?
Why not talking to God was a part of their doing diligence? After all, they saw many miracles and experienced the numerous God’s mighty hands. Many of us would say even one single miracle of God will guarantee: we will never forget God throughout the rest of our lives. Always will we be faithful to God no matter what will happens in future. It seems a really logical statement. Does it?
At least, we know that Joshua failed, who was so faithful in faith throughout the forty years of journey in the wilderness during the time of the Exodus. Even so, Joshua forgot God, and he attacked Ai based on his own wisdom and his spies’ report. Where was God at that time? Joshua, after a huge victory over Jericho, (in reality, he did not fight but God fought for him and the Israelites), his heart was completely filled up with himself. In His heart, there was no room for God. Only after Joshua completely defeated by the seemingly much weaker Ai than the people of Jericho, Joshua came back to God, and heard Him. Then Joshua precisely followed what God told to do so, which came from God’s wisdom. This brought back a victory to Joshua. It was a huge lesson for Joshua. However, the lesson was not enough for Joshua. A few day later, he was visited by Gibeonites, who were looked people from a far distance. Let’s put ourselves in the Joshua’s shoes. What would be our first action? Would we approach to God to ask first? (Please try to answer this question. Please remember the visit was made right after the victory over Ai by listening to God and following exactly what God asked to do.) In fact, Joshua did not. He forgot about God and what He did for him and the Israelites for a few days ago. Joshua had to learn another hard lesson, and God rescued Joshua again. Through the journey with God, Joshua slowly but steadily learned about God by experiencing Him out of both his faithfulness to God and his egocentric sinfulness before God. Through the ups and downs in his life, Joshua’s faith was strengthened and was able to truly experience God, which was God really wanted.
There were lots of things to be done in the Promised Land. God needed a truly faithful leader, and He carved out His faithful leader by letting Joshua going through the ups and downs in his life, which was full of both those victories in God in joy and precious lessons of the painful failures. (Please note that Joshua’s failures were caused by Joshua himself, but God used the failures to carve out His truly faithful servant.)
The seven kings in the region united in fear of God and Joshua. After they all agreed to fight against the Israelites to defend their territories, they planned to attach. However, they did not choose to attack the Israelites directly. Rather they moved all their troops into place to attack Gibeon. The Gibeonites immediately sent a messenger to Joshua for help. As soon as getting this message, Joshua did not repeat his previous repeated mistakes, but he ran into God, and asked first. This really pleased God. God confirmed that Joshua was truly ready to be His vessel who could lead the Israelites throughout the Promised Land, and settle them. God answered, “Do not be afraid of them, for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.” Joshua was encouraged, and in Him, he was ready to fight against the seven kings united against the Israelites. (Please note that in reality, Joshua did not have to send his troops to help Gibeonites, but he kept his promise made to the Gibeonites. Joshua was a faithful and trustworthy leader.)
Joshua and his entire army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal and set out for Gibeon. Most of all, God was with Joshua. Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise. God saw what Joshua did faithfully for the Gibeonites. Yes, it also pleased God. God did not stand still. God stretched His arm, and touched the united troops of the seven kings. His mighty hand threw them into a panic, and the entire united armies were paralyzed. Ahead of Joshua, God prepared to be defeated. The armies of the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua slaughtered great numbers of the united armies of the seven kings at Gibeon. The united armies fled, and the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah.
As the united army retreated down the road from Beth-horon, God sent a terrible hailstorm from heaven that continued until they reached Azekah, which destroyed the retreating armies. The hail killed more of the united armies than the Israelites killed with the sword. This was what God did for Joshua and His people. Yes, Joshua did all that he could do with his armies. In reality, God fought for them. God threw them into a panic before Joshua and his armies, and God also killed more of the enemies with the terrible hailstorm. This was what God had done for Joshua and the Israelites, when Joshua truly became God’s faithful servant by carefully listening to God and following His command. To reach this level of faithfulness, Joshua had to go through many pains caused by his sinfulness before God. After all, Joshua truly learned, and experienced God. On the day God gave the Israelites victory over the united kings of Amorites.
Here is what Joshua actually did and how God answered to Joshua. Joshua and the Israelites slaughtered the enemy. Even so, the enemy armies were huge, and lots of enemy armies were still there. The sun was moving west and the shadow was lengthening. He found there were not enough time to fight. He needed more light. If not, Joshua and the Israelites could not finish up the united armies.
Joshua looked up, and in faith he prayed to God something unthinkable in front of all the people of Israel. He prayed,
“Let the sun stand still over Gibeon,
and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.” (Joshua 10:12b)
Who could make such a prayer to God in front of a huge number of people? Yes, Joshua did in faith without any doubt. God heard his prayer in faith, and answer.
So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies. (Joshua 10:13a)
It was truly a miracle. Only was God able to do. God did for Joshua, who truly faithful to Him. Indeed, the sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did move at all till the battle was over. Upon the extraordinary faith of Joshua, God did respond in an extraordinary way – even stopping the sun. Bible records that there has never been a day like this one before or since, when the LORD answered such a prayer. Surely the LORD fought for Israel that day! (Joshua 10:14)
Let’s put ourselves as the Israelites warriors’ shoes, who were in the mist of the battle. We fought and fought all day long, and the battle had been great. The Israelites were winning destroying the enemies left and right. The enemies were fleeing. When we looked up the sky, we saw the sun that was about to set. We need more day time to completely destroy the enemies so that there would no more attack in future. We realized that we were running against the time. Although we did everything that we could, it was so obvious that we could not finish up the battle. As the sun set, it would be soon dark. The enemies would hide. Then suddenly, Joshua stood up, while looking up heavens, and prayed to God with a loud voice. Initially we could not believe what he asked to God in his prayer. He asked to make the sun stand still in the sky. His face was filled with his faith in God without a single hint of doubt. His prayer was so bold. We knew nobody would prayed like Joshua. Then what did happen next? The sun actually stopped its movement and stood still in the sky! What a miracle! Then we fought and fought until all enemies completely destroyed. Yes, we literally wiped out the entire united armies of the seven kings. We won the victory. Surely God was with the Israelites. God fought for the Israelites.
The united armies of the seven kings were a formidable threat to the Israelites. They were much bigger than the armies of Israelites. Practically speaking, there was no chance to win the battle against the huge enemies. They were more numerous, more skilled and knew the area much better than the Israelites. They lived in the area for generations. They knew every detail of the land, and how to use the area for their advantage to defeat the Israelites, who were just new comers into the region. In the eyes of both the united armies, and the Israelites, there was no chance that the Israelites would win. In fact, who did win the battle? How did the Israelites win the battle against the seven kings’ united armies? What had God actually done for the Israelites before and during the battle? What happened to the sun? Even did the sun stand still in the sky? Why was the sun standing still in the sky? Wasn’t there one faithful prayer of Joshua?
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)