Grace, peace, and mercy to you in the Name of Jesus Christ – the Risen Savior.
Today we are going to look at a very interesting chapter where God commands the sun to stand still for Joshua and the army of the Lord. Open your Bible to Joshua chapter ten. I will read from verse one to verse twenty-eight, hear the word of the Lord – read.
Joshua’s enemies plot against his servants.
Joshua 10:1. Now it came about when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai, and had utterly destroyed it (just as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king), and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were within their land, 2 that he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. 3 Therefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron and to Piram king of Jarmuth and to Japhia king of Lachish and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 “Come up to me and help me, and let us attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the sons of Israel.” 5 So the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they with all their armies, and camped by Gibeon and fought against it.
Joshua is petitioned by his servants.
Joshua 10:6. Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites that live in the hill country have assembled against us.”
Joshua defeats the enemy armies.
Joshua 10:7. So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and all the valiant warriors. 8 The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.” 9 So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal. 10 And the LORD confounded them before Israel, and He slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, the LORD threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.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.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.
Joshua executes the enemy kings.
Joshua 10:15. Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp to Gilgal. 16 Now these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in the cave at Makkedah. 17 It was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18 Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and assign men by it to guard them, 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.” 20 It came about when Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished slaying them with a very great slaughter, until they were destroyed, and the survivors who remained of them had entered the fortified cities, 21 that all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace. No one uttered a word against any of the sons of Israel. 22 Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring these five kings out to me from the cave.” 23 They did so, and brought these five kings out to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24 When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25 Joshua then said to them, “Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight.” 26 So afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees; and they hung on the trees until evening. 27 It came about at sunset that Joshua gave a command, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and put large stones over the mouth of the cave, to this very day.
Joshua 10:28. Now Joshua captured Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Thus he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.
Let’s ask God to help us worship Him from this passage this evening, pray.
The historical context.
Well, I have said previously that Joshua chapter six through twelve contains the historical record of Joshua’s defeat of the various Canaanites and their various cities.
God’s government of war.
These chapters contain all the painful things associated with war and the purpose of war which is to kill other men.
This has enraged many an unbeliever. They do not want a God that orders war and death. Of course, they do not want God at all. (Rom.3:9-18, Rom.8:7)
And I will say, these war narratives also perplex and trouble many true Believers in Christ, myself included. As a young Christian new to the Faith these kind of passages greatly disturbed me. Then in God’s time as I grew in the Lord and grew in the use of God’s word then I understood what God was doing with these battles in the Promised Land. (2 Tim.3:14-17, Acts 17:11)
Then my confusion of what the Lord purposed with the wars was replaced by a holy fear of this holy God. (Dan.4:34-37, Heb.12:28)
God is doing two general things by these battles.
God is God is administering the wages of sin to these sinners. And the physical death is just a foretaste of the eternal death that awaits those that die in unbelief. (Rom.6:23, Gen.2:16-17, Eph.2:1-3) God was using Israel as His agent to administer justice to the Canaanites.
In the same event God is administering divine mercy to His people. God is saving His people from their enemies. In this case through the use of war.
What this represents is judgment to some and salvation to others. And seen by the same event. This is much like the Noah and the ark and Israel and the Egyptians at the Red Sea, judgment to the enemies of God, salvation to the children of God.
Remember also God has promised to give His people the Promised Land. Through the use of these wars God is casting the Canaanites out of the Land and replacing them with His people. God has promised this land. God cannot lie. He is truth. He is making good on His word. (Gen.13:1-18, Josh.23:1-16, Exod.34:11, Deut.6:19, 7:1, 9:3-5)
The earthly Promised Land is a type of the heavenly Promised Land where God will cast out all of our enemies and the wicked will be no more and the weary will finally be at rest. (Heb.11:1-40, Job 3:17, Rev.21:4)
The application is that we would believe God’s word and that we would live upon His word, tremble at sin, rejoice in salvation. (Mt.4:4, Mt.7:13-29)
The sermon method.
Because of the common theme it is my purpose to look at the various things we have here tonight and glean from them the spiritual lessons that they teach.
A disclaimer here. I am not “spiritualizing” the text. I am not denying the physical realities in this account. These are real battles. People are really dying. But what I am doing is seeking the larger spiritual lessons behind these physical circumstances.
For example, think of the crucifixion of Jesus. Men physically hated and crucified Jesus. Spiritually this reveals the spiritual or moral nature of fallen man. That is to say, fallen man hates God and seeks to kill God. God is love and He dies for His enemies to make them His children. Well, that is the kind of method I would like to employ today.
God conquers the Promised land slowly and incrementally.
Think back to the first battle in Jericho and then battles two and three that occurred in Ai. Then remember the averting of a battle with the Gibeonites.
God is showing us how He plans to take the Promised Land.
And that is, little by little, battle by battle. Total victory does not come all at once. God is working slowly and incrementally. Rome was not built in a day. And the Promised Land was not conquered in a day.
Beloved, the Christian walk and fight is a marathon and a protracted battle, something that occurs daily. Bit by bit we fight against the world, the flesh and the devil.
Beloved, do not expect the moment you come to Christ that all your battles are over. That would only occur for men like the thief converted in the cross. And even he had to suffer intensely before he entered Paradise with Christ.
Oh beloved, this is why we need faith so much. We must walk by faith daily because we will be fighting by faith daily. The battles are not done until we are in heaven. Look at the children of Israel and their battles for the Promised Land. Look at the great cloud of witnesses. (Heb.11:1-40)
God’s method of bringing His word to pass often proceeds very slowly.
Finding salvation in Christ does not exempt us from battles.
We said the last time that many of the Reformers believed that the Gibeonites manifested saving faith akin to that of Rahab’s when they came to Joshua and sought a covenant of peace of a covenant of life with him. (Josh.9:1-27)
I tend to think the Reformers are correct. (Reformation Commentary on Scripture, OT, Vol.4, pp.124-133)
Of course, we are in the OT where redemptive revelation is still in the seed form or in the time of infancy and so things tend to be a bit more shadowy and less clear.
But the Gibeonites did believe that the Lord would be victorious over the Canaanites and that He would in fact give the Promised Land to His people. This is faith. They believed certain true things about the Lord and His word and His deeds as they heard them from others. Again, I say, this is faith.
Let me read from our secondary standards summarizing what our primary standard teaches about saving faith.
WCF 14.2 By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein;(1) and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands,(2) trembling at the threatenings,(3) and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come.(4) But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.(5)
(1) John 4:42; 1 Thess. 2:13; John 5:10; Acts 24:14. (2) Rom. 16:26. (3) Isa. 66:2. (4) Heb. 11:13; 1 Tim. 4:8. (5) John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Gal. 2:20; Acts 15:11
Now what do we see in verses one through five for these infant believers?
Well, no sooner did the Gibeonites join themselves to the people of God and seek their life and peace with them, albeit at the cost of their liberty that their former Gentile neighbors, their former fellow Canaanites, have now become their enemies in earnest.
Faith in Christ separates.
The moment we declare that we are on the Lord’s side then our former unbelieving family and friends that were previous our friends will become our enemies. (Mt.10:15-42)
Think of Saul of Tarsus. When he was a Christ-hating Pharisee, his fellow Pharisees loved him. When he was converted to Christ and preached Christ then his former friends hated him and wanted to kill him. (Phil.3:1-14, Acts 23:12-35, 26:21, Gal.1:23)
There is a real war going on in the heavenlies beloved. (Eph.6:10-18) Just as real as the battles before us.
And there are only two sides in this spiritual war. Those that believe in the Lord and fight under His banner. And those that are still found in their sin and unbelief and they fight under the banner of the devil. That is it. Two sides. Two roads. Either the Lord is your Lord. Or fallen Baal is your Lord. (Mt.7:13-14, 2 Cor.6:14-18, Exod.32:26)
And both sides reveal their opposition to one another. And unless a person is converted to Christ by God the Holy Spirit, they will remain opposed to God and God’s people.
Carnal people love their own, they love other people that are in the flesh and sow to the flesh. But “love”, I think, is not the right word. These fallen Canaanites were often fighting each other. Fallen man has no real peace within himself or with others.
True peace can only be found when we find peace with God in Christ.
But beloved let us learn this spiritual lesson from these Gibeonites.
Do not expect peace-peace from your unbelieving family and friends when you come to embrace Christ. Expect rather a spiritual battle, spiritual and physical opposition. Here the opponents are using swords and spears. But mostly in our lives they use bitter words and bitter feelings and unkind deeds. But even this lesser opposition still hurts us and deject us.
Listen to what Jesus Christ says,
John 15:17. This I command you, that you love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
All who desire to live godly for Christ in an ungodly antichrist world will suffer persecution.(2 Tim.3:12, Phil.1:29, Jn.16:33) Paul said, through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
Let’s seek our strength in Joshua-Jesus. He fights our battles for us. He strengthens us in our hard times.
And remember, God is able to covert our enemies into fellow Believers the way that He did for us. Or as we see that God does here, He is able to defeat our enemies for us.
Those who oppose the Lord and the Lord’s people boast in self.
Let’s take a look at some of these enemies.
In V.1. we meet with this fellow Adoni-Zedek. This means the Lord of Righteousness. Or the Righteous Lord. He is the king of Jerusalem. But remember he is not a Jew in saving relationship with Jehovah. (Dt.7:1-10)
This is a pagan Gentile calling himself the Righteous Lord king over the City of Peace.
What creature wanted to be the Lord over the LORD? Satan. Think how he plied our first parents. (Gen.3:1-8) What was found within Satan that he sought to elevate himself as a god over God? Pride. (Isa.14:12-15)
Oh beloved, fallen man is such a proud creature. And what is so sad, is that being fallen we have no just cause to be proud. The fallen world lives for the pride of life and the lusts of the flesh. (I Jn.2:15-17)
And God hates the proud. And some day if they do not humble themselves before Him on earth, He will humble them on the Day of Judgment. (Prov.8:13, James 4:6, Prov.6:16-19, 11:2, 2 Tim.3:1-5)
This man, this fallen mannish king is a mini tyrant. Tyrants often take grossly boastful names and titles to themselves. Alexander the Great. Herod the Great. Pontifex Maximus, the greatest priest, the pope – the holy father, the vicar of Christ, and so on.
The enemies of God pretend to be god.
In a way this is like this fellow took to himself the name Melchizedek the prince of Salem that we meet with in Genesis 14.
Melchizedek means King of Righteousness or Righteous King.
As I say, this is fallen man beloved. Fallen earthly kings boast that they are equal to God. They think they are their own god or lord.
This is the enemy of God’s people. Fallen men refuse to seek their righteousness in Christ because they believe that they already are righteous. (Rom.9:30-33, 10:1-4)
Fallen man opposes Christ and His church because they think that they do not need saving. And they believe they are in the right and God is in the wrong. They call evil – good and they call good- evil. (Isa.5:20)
The unbeliever is the unjust one pretending to be the just one. The unbeliever is self-deceived.
Remember what God says through the prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 17:5. Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 “For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant.
Jeremiah 17:9. The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 10 “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.
The enemies of God know they are not God.
V.2. But what is interesting is that we see the sinner is self-righteous but at the very same time he (or she) is afraid to die.
Our text tells us that Adoni-Zedek “feared greatly” when he heard how Joshua and Israel defeated Jericho and Ai.
You see fallen man in his depravity pretends to be God. But even in his depravity he knows that he is not God. He knows that only the Lord is God. But natural man suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. But his fallen conscience still convicts him of sin against the true Lord. (Rom.1:18-32)
This is like the unclean spirits, they rebel against the Lord but at the same time when God expresses His power, they are terrified. Think of the demons fighting against Christ. But at the same time that are terrified Christ will send then to hell before the appointed time. (Mt.8:29)
But for all this, what do we see the enemies of God continue to do? Remember that all these various kings have just seen one enemy of God after another fall before God. And that by way of miracle in Jericho and by military might in Ai – and what do they conclude?
Oh, this will not happen to us. We will be the only ones that can withstand the Lord. Oh, Pharaoh and his army were cast into the Red Sea by a mighty miracle, oh that will not happen to us!
You see he is afraid of God, but he refuses to submit to God. (Gen.19:1-11)
Stunning. This is total depravity beloved.
Though all men live under the threat of God’s justice and judgment for their sin, though they hear it in His word, though they see it in their lives, all men die, but still left to themselves they convince themselves death with not come for them.
The unbeliever is so self-deceived and spiritually blind he convinces himself that though all may come to Judgment Day, yet they themselves will be the only one to escape.
Such is the fallen spiritual condition of those who oppose Christ and His people. Their only hope is, they must be born again by God’s Spirit giving them faith in God’s Christ. (Jn.3:1-9)
The servants of God turn to Joshua to save them.
V.6-14. The Gibeonites know that Joshua is the appointed leader of God’s people, they know that he is their warrior-king-leader. We know that this Joshua is a type of the true Joshua Jesus. (Heb.4:8-10)
Previously, this Joshua made a covenant of peace and protection with these people. They became the servants to the priestly servants of the Lord in the House of the Lord, in the tabernacle and later in the temple.
But see what they do in their time of need. They send and call out to this Joshua, to this man in covenant with them, to this man in covenant himself with the Lord.
Oh beloved, when our enemies come near, we do right to call upon our Joshua Jesus to rescue us.
You see the Gibeonites did right. When their enemies drew near, they did not rely upon their own wisdom or power to fight them. No. They sought out their Joshua, their Defender.
This is what every Christian ought to do in their darkest times, when the opponents are right at the door and your downfall is immanent, run to Christ, tell Him about the enemies, tell Him your dire needs. He will rise up and defend you.
Joshua saves those that seek their salvation by him.
Now what do we see with Joshua?
He answers their cry for help immediately. Remember these people now belong to Israel as their covenanted servants. Joshua is in covenant with these Gentiles.
And really, in a way, they are no longer Gentiles separated from the people of God and the promises of God and the covenants of God – in Joshua they have been brought near to Israel and to the God of Israel. (Eph.2:11-22)
And so the Lord fights on their behalf. I think, more proof that the Reformers were correct seeing these people as having saving faith.
Also, even though the Gibeonites secured their covenant with Joshua by dealing “falsely” with him, see that he deals faithfully with them.
Though we stumble and fail and are many times faithless to Christ, He always deals faithfully with us. (2 Tim.2:13)
Our salvation is not dependent upon how we treat Jesus. Our salvation is dependent on how Jesus treats us. Christ saves all those in covenant with Him. (WCF 7.1-6)
You see Christ always does that which pleases His heavenly Father. Christ preserves all those that He has justified and saved. Christ does not lose any sheep. (Mt.18:12-14, Lk.15:3-7)
Joshua is encouraged by the Lord as to the victory.
V.7-8. God comforts His man Joshua.
God again and again encourages Joshua, do not fear, do not be afraid. God wants Joshua to know the Lord Himself will be with Him, and that the Lord will ensure the victory.
Joshua 10:8. The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.” (Joshua 1:5-9)
You see as Joshua comforts the Gibeonites his servants so too the Lord comforts Joshua His servant.
Beloved this is true. It is often in the darkest time, the times when our enemies surround us that we experience the greatest testimonies of God’s provision and protection of us.
Now in the actual battle we seek a mixture of ordinary providence and extraordinary providence acquiring the victory over the enemies and salvation for the Gibeonites. (WCF 3.1-8, 5.1-7)
The ordinary providence or the secondary means are the battle plans and the execution of those plans by Joshua, by Israel actually fighting with zeal and with courage. Joshua uses those secondary means with diligence. So, he was not presuming on a victory by miraculous means or presuming that he would defeat them as he at first did with Ai.
But then we see the miraculous. God sends hailstones down on the enemies of God and His people. (Ezek.13:11-13, Rev.8:7, 11:19, Isa.28:2)
How did God ensure that only the unbelieving Gentiles were killed and not His people? We answer the sovereign government and power and mercy of God.
This is similar to what God did in Egypt. He made a distinction between His people and His enemies.
Exodus 9:14. For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. 15 “For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. 16 “But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. 17 “Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go. 18 “Behold, about this time tomorrow, I will send a very heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 “Now therefore send, bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety. Every man and beast that is found in the field and is not brought home, when the hail comes down on them, will die.”‘” 20 The one among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD made his servants and his livestock flee into the houses; 21 but he who paid no regard to the word of the LORD left his servants and his livestock in the field. 22 Now the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt, on man and on beast and on every plant of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.” 23 Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 The hail struck all that was in the field through all the land of Egypt, both man and beast; the hail also struck every plant of the field and shattered every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the sons of Israel were, there was no hail.
Listen to how John on the Isle of Patmos sees the coming Judgment of Judgment Day upon the earth.
Revelation 16:19. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.
And then another miracle of the sun and the moon standing still. And this miracle allows Joshua more time to use those secondary means of the actual fighting. (2 Kg.20:8-11, Isa.38:8)
God is governing all of His creatures and all of their actions. And He does so preeminently to save His people and to preserve His saved people for the purpose of living with them in the promised land.
Joshua 10:14. for the LORD fought for Israel.
Beloved, the battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil is not ultimately ours. It belongs to the war. We do not defeat our enemies. God in Christ does. We do not save ourselves and place ourselves in the Promised Land. God in Christ does.