I awoke unnecessarily early this morning so I thought I might as well get up and reread the next page in my Joshua series. I’m so glad I did. Even when I’m just going back over these chapters to blog about them I find new insight resonates in the retelling. I hope you are as encouraged by it as I was.
In chapters 9 and 10 we see that stories about the people of Israel are getting around and their reputation is preceding them, causing their enemies great concern. The first group we hear about are the people of Gibeon who decide that the best way to avoid being annihilated is to trick them! They dress up in worn out clothes and bring mouldy food to try to add credibility to their story about being strangers from a far away land. Joshua totally falls for it and the lies reinforced by the “evidence” were enough to convince him to make a treaty. Two things really stood out to me about this: firstly that the reputation of the people of Israel was not just one of invasion and victory but also one of honour. The inhabitants of Gibeon knew that if they could get Joshua to make an alliance then they would be safe because these Israelites were a people who knew about covenant and keeping promises! My husband is really good at this – keeping his word, not making commitments he doesn’t intend to fulfil and not breaking promises. Wouldn’t it be good to have this sort of reputation? – that you and I might be known as people who keep our word!
The second thing that struck me though was chapter 9 verse 14-15 which says;
“So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them”
You see they listened to the lies and they looked at what appeared to be strong evidence and were scammed! But what they didn’t do was ask God! How often are we suckered by lies from our enemy who whispers to us – just like in Eden, trying to tempt us or discourage us or divert us? I’m so challenged by this – if I take time to “enquire of the Lord” I find that He is not fooled, even slightly, ever! He sees the end from the beginning and as James puts it;
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
So Joshua finds himself duped and when he realises he is not best pleased but knows “we have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them” so instead they are permitted to live but are sentenced to work for God’s people as wood and water collectors, and cursed never to become anything more than servants.
That’s not the end of the story though – in the next chapter we see that Gibeon is now a target because all the other Kings in the region heard they had made peace with Joshua and they were afraid. Gibeon sent word to the Israelites asking for help because all these enemies had ganged up together! But don’t you just love how God works all things together for the good of those who love him? And here Joshua being faced by 5 kings and 5 armies is given 5 times the victory in one epic battle!
“And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them for I have given them into your hands” ch 10:8
So Joshua marched all night – and God sent his enemies into a great panic, He threw down large hailstones that killed more than all the swords and the five armies fled before God’s people. What happens next gives me goose bumps though – Joshua commands the sun and moon to stand still until they have complete victory – and they do!!! It also makes me laugh how often I pray for sleep where as Joshua is speaking out signs and wonders that enable more time to fight to win. What an extraordinary and exciting story – I love it!
“The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 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!” ch 10:13-14
This was truly a unique and remarkable day, I don’t know about you but it’s not my usual every day experience, and yet there is such encouragement for us! It is revealing to us the character of God who is sovereign over, not just our little lives, but over planets and physical laws and even time itself. This day was a one of a kind but He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is still the God who hears, the God who rules and the God who fights for us! You may never see God make the sun stand still for you like Joshua did, or move backwards like Isaiah (Is 38:8), but I know that He has extraordinary days written in His book for you too – days when you see signs and wonders and miracles, days when you see natural laws broken and physical impossibilities before your very eyes! Unique days unlike any seen before! I’m asking for more of my ordinary days to become ones where out of the ordinary things happen.
Thanks again for taking the time to read. Have a very happy week. Love Rach x