Introduction to Joshua 10:12-43
Aspect #1) Burdened with God’s vision,
Aspect #2) Willing to display his faith
Aspect #3) Carrying out God’s work in His strength
Summary & Review
We must first recognize that Joshua was already in obedience when this most important event happened in verse 12. The battle had already started. He had already hit the ball so to speak and was running. He was not waiting for another pitch. He only needed one good ball. Sometime in baseball we ask, “Why didn’t you swing? It was a great ball.” Joshua did hit and was on the road to obedience. Great experiences with God do not come in your disobedience but in your obedience.
We will not be discussing each and every battle here. Our major concern is to see why this passage is here at all. Now of course, the Southern Campaign was extremely important to the conquest of Palestine. We are not overlooking or undervaluing this.
Anytime we take a significant step forward in our lives, whether it has to do with our personal moral life or our advance in expanding God’s kingdom in the world. Surely you do not think that this conquest was merely a political/military invasion similar to the wars throughout the millenniums, do you? Clearly it was not. God was expanding His influence. This had little to do with Israel except that it was the vehicle through whom God chose to work.
In each city where God’s forces would occupy they would live out His will and purposes. They would live upright lives to the glory of God. Otherwise, as God had repeatedly stated, He Himself would cast Israel from the land. This conquest was not firstly Israel’s will but God’s. This is the reason Israel or any nation for that matter suffers today. They choose to live apart from God’s will. If they would seek Him, then they would find Him. they would implement His way into their lives. To the degree they follow Him, they would be blessed.
We see two battle scenes described in verses from 16-43. The first had to do with liberating the Gibeonites (1-11). The second was a follow-up from their first victory (16-43). They purposed to eliminate the forces and threats before the men would return to their fortified cities. Verse 15 can be looked at in two ways.
Verse 15 can be a statement of fact. After one thrust in battle, the Israelites returned to the main Gilgal camp. After they refreshed themselves, they moved out again. This is possible and perhaps the right interpretation. With an extended day they could return to the camp and start anew. By looking at the map one can see all the battles listed: Gibeon, Beth-Horon, Ajalon valley, Azekah and Makkedah. Most prominent of course was the humiliation and death of the enemy kings.
One other commentator suggested that because verse 10:15 was later repeated in the last verse that it was more than likely that verse 15 also belonged to the original quote taken from the Book of Jashar. In other words this description of returning to the camp at Gilgal did happen but later. This understanding of what happened seem to make much sense for then they would not need to return back to the camp and could eliminate the enemy. Isn’t this Joshua’s concern in 10:19?
“But do not stay there yourselves; pursue your enemies and attack them in the rear. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.” We are not making a major point of this. Most important is the fact that they persevered. With a long day they could move about the land in an amazing way. We also see that they had an army that was given extra physical stamina to withstand the drag on them.
This is extent of the battle. But we must remember that this was not due to simple obedience. That is, I believe, the main point of this lesson. God works along with us in our simple and earnest obedience. We will be blessed. This is the typical Christian life. But there are some noble souls that do not just ask and seek, but they knock hard and persevere.
For the rest of the message we will focus back on this special portion of scripture, Joshua 10:11-14. We will look at three aspects of stepping beyond mediocrity. But we should be clear. This was not just for Joshua. This is like an advertisement. “This could be you!” The scriptures are baiting us, hoping that one of us, if not all of us, would stand up and make a key difference in this world. God has work to do. He wants us to join Him in it. Will you be like Joshua?
The three key aspects that led to this pursuit of God's best in Joshua’s life are: 1) Burdened with God’s vision, 2) Willing to display his faith and 3) Carrying out God’s work in His strength.
1) Burdened with God’s vision (10:12)
"Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
O sun, stand still at Gibeon,
And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies." (12)
At some point in the battle, Joshua recognized that God had given Him a tremendous victory. All these kings and their armies were on the run. Was it before or after the hailstorm that Joshua cried out to the Lord. It seems that Joshua was at Beth-Horon when the hail storm occurred. The sun was over Gibeon in the east and the moon was over the valley of Aijalon in the west. This apparently was before the sun was too high in the sky. Remember they marched through the night and caught the enemy unaware early in the morning. They had already routed the enemy and pursued them between the mountain passes. At some point it dawned on Joshua that this defeat was simply overwhelming. Five great kings that dominated the south of Canaan were all defeated in one blow. The average or mediocre person would simply take what he had and enjoy the victory. There was nothing wrong with this. It was within God’s will. After all they had already marched all night.
Joshua had the victory. He could have rested along with his weary soldiers. He could sit back with the other Israelites and tell them what a great job they did by doing what God said.
The Amorites were spread out over certain parts of Canaan. Five of their kings came forward to fight the Israelites. But in addition to this big war party were other kings and of course their armies: king of Jerusalem, king of Hebron, king of Jarmuth, king of Lachish and king of Eglon. We are not sure how many armies there were altogether but for sure it was a great number.
Perhaps we should make a note here of the Lord’s methodology. Sometimes we just read about the battle of Jericho and do not think of its impact on the future battles. What we find from chapter 9, 10 and 11 is that the kings come out of their fortified cities and mountains (Jerusalem was a mountain) to fight on the plains. These kings played right into God’s hand. First of all, they gave up their great defensive positions. The walls and ability to hide behind them. Their soldiers poured out of the city walls to fight Joshua in another place. So the advantage of their defenses were abandoned.
Secondly, we find that God was bringing out the enemy in groups. It is hard to be tested by being on the side with odds stacked against you. But God kept each battle a challenge so that they could fight by faith. When the Israelites won one of these big battles, their territory dramatically increased. God was not only making sure that the Israelites wouldn’t make compromises so early in the game but that they would see God’s might in it all.
Thirdly, by leaving the cities to fight elsewhere the enemy left their cities wide open to attack. It was this principle by which Joshua could easily defeat these walled cities.
There was already a wonderful victory but Joshua was not content. He was wrestling with something. That something was the loss of an overwhelming victory. He realized that the sun would be going down soon. He would not be able to do much once it got dark. The soldiers would return to their walled cities and they would still have a lot of work to do. There are times when we are living in the glow of victory. It is somewhat dangerous because it might not be the real victory that God really wants for us. It is only a partial victory. Joshua feared this. He saw that they could take all the men and cities if he only had more light.
So high up in the mountains he cried out to the Lord. If his goal was pure victory or obedience, then he would have stayed put and done what could have been done that day. But in fact, he realized that he had a greater desire springing up within him. He didn’t want a simple victory but one in which God would show Himself great and mighty. He wanted all of God’s enemies wiped out. He would need more time that day to do this. He saw no other way to do this than cry out to the Lord for help. He desired God’s ways. He wanted God’s full will to be done. Psalm 37:4 says,
Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4).
The Lord is simply showing us that when we treasure what He treasures, there is no limit to what can be done. God can open up doors that cannot be closed. We must be careful to desire what God wants and trust Him to accomplish it.
The large point of this special story is that in many cases all we want is victory. We want a story to tell others about. And when we have that victory, we settle down into the ease of its memories. Joshua was of a different nature. Victory was not enough. He did what God wanted of Him. He obeyed God. But God liked what Joshua did so much that the two great lights that God made and placed in the sky stopped to watch and see. This is what God waits for all along. he wants men and women who want to fulfill God’s purposes.
If Joshua wanted only obedience and victory, he would have stopped with that great battle where God waged war against man. It must have been fantastic to see the enemy driven away by the large miraculous hailstones. But Joshua was not content. He wanted what was on God’s heart. He wanted to see the wonderful removal of sin from the land and full judgment upon the enemy. This was God’s purpose. And so as Joshua saw that a complete success depended on the length of day, in boldness he cried out the famous words in front of all of Israel, “
Application: Many a time we will work hard to accomplish our purposes. As long as our purpose is being fulfilled, we are willing to work hard in the church. For instance, some might serve hard in the church because they like to lead and direct others to solutions. It is good. Victories will be seen. Churches will grow. Disciples will be made. But we all tend to rest in our works rather than live in faith. We are I believe much more desirous of fitting into the plan of the day, the plan of the church, rather than see God’s kingdom come.
Many churches have plans. We have them too. And we, like many good churches, try to get God’s work done. We make sacrifices. We so to speak ‘get our hands dirty.’ We in fact see much done. But our dreams stop there with the accomplishing of a plan that is getting God’s work done.
Joshua leaves us a special challenge. We need to get to know God so that we dream His dreams and in faith steps out to seize those miraculous victories on earth. Many a man looks at the budget to see what can be done. Others examine their man resources. They do not see what God really has in mind. They only look at the figures. They are happy with a few victories. They really do not know how much God desires to be completely victorious.
May we be that people who are ready not only to obey but think and pray great things about what God wants done and commit themselves to doing it.
2) Willing to display his faith (10:12)
Joshua secondly was willing to display his faith. He had to live out his faith. There is always the time when faith requires you to make a daring choice. The stronger the faith, the less the world appreciates what you believe. For Joshua, his great cry for more of God’s work so powerfully worked on his being that he cried out to God to get it down. We do not know where Joshua cried out to God but only that the biblical text says it was “in the sight of Israel.” Right where the Israelites could see him, Joshua asked for the impossible. What was it that he asked?
“O sun, stand still at Gibeon, and O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” He wanted light so he asked the commander of the lights in the sky to make that arrangement for him. Now if I was him, I would have enough problem in a small corner of my private room making such a request. Not Joshua. Desire is not enough. We can know God’s will and desire it but we need to cry out to God so that He will do it. Crying out is the ‘knocking.’ It is the desperate dependent cry to God to accomplish what man can not do. Listen to the words from Hebrews about the place of faith.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. ... And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:1-6, NASB).
Great men and women of God are known for their faith. Faith brings a couple to commit themselves to go off to some far away country and bring the gospel to the people. We might think that we are more spiritually gifted. We might be more talented. We might be more clever or mature. But they are the ones that go. We have too many hang ups. We never go. The Lord can work through the problems and the inferior gifting, but He cannot work without the faith.
One couple I know was rejected to be missionary candidates. He was a bit older than other candidates. His language learning abilities were poor. They worked in America for a good long time with the Cambodians in America. They had a number of children. One of them having a disability. But the next thing I hear is that they were actually on the way to the mission field. They were older. The husband’s language difficulty must have gotten worse. Their children were a bit older. But they believed God had something for them. And now they serve there today.
Faith is the cutting edge between a mediocre and a victorious life. Faith helps us live out our inner convictions despite the obstacles facing us. Faith is the desire to please God rather than man. Faith breaks the routine, the typical, the ‘What we can do?’ and goes for the finish line.
What is your faith like? Do you live by faith or by money? Do you live by the inner conviction from God or by what people might think of you?
Joshua was a man of faith and out on the rock in front of everyone said the most ridiculous thing that could be said. But what is so amazing, God actually did what he asked.
Do you realize that there is no enemy that cannot be overcome? We might think a certain philosophy or craze or violent spirit among a people are too great to fight. We just try to hide in the corner and hope it doesn’t come near. This is exactly opposite to what the Lord said to do. He told us that we are the light and are to take the bushel basket off our heads! May the Lord forgive us for our little faith. But even more may you now be that man or woman of faith through which the name of God is glorified.
If we wanted hundred people to come to know the Lord, we could do it. If we wanted God to bring a great revival to this area that transformed the Cathedral of Learning into a prayer house where groups would pray for all the different nations, it would be done.
O, but do we cry out to the Lord? Do we dare to believe Jesus, that if you had the faith of a mustard seed, you could move a mountain? O God revive us!