Joshua 10:12–14 (ESV) “At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.”
The book of Joshua just may be my favorite Old Testament book. It is filled with so much practical wisdom for the Christian life, it is virtually inexhaustible.
The juxtaposition of 2 passages I find enormously helpful. In chapter 7, the Israelites face defeat at Ai because Achan had stolen what God had said was to be destroyed. It taught us that prayer is no substitute for action. When Joshua falls in his face before God because of the defeat – God says “Get up!” Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned.” (7:10-11) Conversely, in chapter 9 the Israelites are suckered by the Gibeonites into making a treaty with them because “the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord.” (9:14). This time, the problem was taking action – but without prayer. Great lessons to learn.
It is what grows out of this last, ill-conceived action on the part of Israel, that brings us to our text, and one of the most amazing displays of God’s power (if not THE greatest) in all of Scripture. But if all we see is the miracle, we miss the revelation.
Recap: The inhabitants of Gibeon, a large people group living in Canaan, heard what God had done in destroying Jericho, and then Ai, and decided they would NOT be next. They got a few guys together, put them in worn out clothes, gave the moldy bread, and sent them to the Israelites with the story that they were coming from WAY far away (their bread was hot from the oven when they left) and wanted to enter into a treaty with Israel. Since they weren’t near neighbors who God had said to vanquish – the Israelites (without asking God’s counsel) said “sure!” But shortly after, they found out they were hoodwinked. These guys were from the neighborhood.
Israel to its credit, though with mud on their faces, kept the treaty – even though it was obtained under false pretenses. However, that promise to honor the agreement soon gets put to test. Some of Gibeon’s neighbors weren’t happy about this treaty, and so they ganged up to wage war on Gibeon. Now that Gibeon had a treaty with Israel, what did they do? They got on the hotline and called for help. And Israel, still wanting to retain their integrity – says “we’re on the way.” It is in the ensuing battle that this miracle of the “sun standing still” takes place. While Israel is defending the people they had no business entering into a treaty with in the first place. Now – we know why the account is so important.
Here is the payoff. Think about this entire scene for one moment. Have you ever witnessed a more vivid or expansive vision of God’s unfathomable grace than this? God gives one of His most remarkable deliverances – if not THE most remarkable – while assisting Israel in defeating the foes of those Israel foolishly and sinfully bound themselves to. It is NO endorsement of their sin for sure. But it is, an inexplicable display of how much mercy and grace He extends to us – even in the aftermath of our own sin. WOW!