– Reaching Beyond Mediocrity –
Joshua 10:1-11 'A. Joshua Followed the Lord in Obedience' gives us the explanation and application of the first battle scene from Gilgal to Gibeon and later to Beth-horon. This is part '4/6' of the Life Commentary series on Joshua 10:1-43 entitled 'Reaching Beyond Mediocrity.' A full index is at the bottom.
A. Joshua Followed the Lord in Obedience (Joshua 10:1-11)
– The Day the Sun Stood Firm in the Sky –
The Southern Campaign started off when their new-found friends, the Gibeonites, were attacked by the enemy. It is here that we see how Joshua faithfully obeyed the Lord. We read about this in Joshua 10:1-11.
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, 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. 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, “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.” 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. 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.” So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and all the valiant warriors. (Joshua 10:1-7, NASB).
We notice that obedience required hard work, faithfulness, faith, risk and possible danger. There were two things that would later move Joshua to lead an army attack. First of all we see the men of Gibeon sought Joshua’s help, “Come up to us quickly and save us and help us.”
Secondly, perhaps because of the great armies assembled across the land, God spoke words to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you” (10:8). This was a wonderful promise while facing tough decisions.
We should note that it was when Joshua had already made the tough decision to help them that God spoke. He suddenly leads his army from Gilgal to Gibeon to rescue the Gibeonites who had sneakily attached themselves to the Israelites. Joshua did not only keep his word but he proved ultimately loyal to the Gibeonites when they were subsequently attacked for siding with Israel. Joshua didn’t wait. His convictions were clear. We might deliberate on whether we should keep our word or whether our responsibility goes as far as to defend them. He could easily have thought that this was God’s way of judging the Gibeonites. But Joshua was not fooled by such tempting thoughts. Joshua’s brave attack was morally upright and indeed made the Gibeonites truly thankful that they were now in the Israelite camp.
Did you notice verse 8 and 9? Closely following Joshua 10:8 were words from verse 9, “So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal.” The word 'so' points out a causal relationship. Once Joshua’s faith was strengthened, he then led his army for a surprise attack. The march from Gilgal to Gibeon would take at least 4 hours (around 20 miles depending where Gilgal really was based). Since they marched through the night, they arrived early in the morning in Gibeon to free them from their newly found enemies.
God gave Joshua a wonderful victory.
(1) The LORD confounded them before Israel.(10)
• He slew them wit a great slaughter at Gibeon.
• Pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon
• Struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah.
It was the Lord that was doing the fighting here. We might want to say Israel did the fighting. After all they marched all night. Were they so tired from marching that they didn’t join the battle? I don’t think so. We definitely should get the picture that the Lord was fighting for the Israelites (not exclusively). One might think this was enough but it gets more interesting yet.
(2) The Lord threw large stones from heaven on them.
The Lord is said to throw large stones. Just little stones would seem to have done the job. Just imagine stones coming at them with the speed of descent from the sky.
• The Lord threw large stones from heaven on them.
• As far as Azekah
• More people who died from the hailstones than those by sword.
Baker’s Bible Atlas describes the scene,
“Attacked the enemy and then pursued them through the mountain passes guarded by the two Beth-horons in the Valley of Ajalon. After relieving the Gibeonites, he chased the enemy from Upper Beth-horon (1730 feet above sea level) to Lower Beth-horon, 1 3/4 miles down the valley, where a providential hailstorm contributed to the disastrous defeat of Israel's foes” (Baker’s Bible Atlas, p. 89).
Application: Joshua proved himself a capable leader. He was ready for obedience. He didn’t let little ‘what ifs’ stand in the way. Nor did Joshua procrastinate. He made immediate decisions which was crucial to help the Gibeonites who would probably have been destroyed that same day had not Joshua come to the rescue.
Joshua had already won the victory by time most of us would have made a decision to do anything. We might have a restless night over a decision. Perhaps we know down deep what we ought to do, but really don’t want to do it. Perhaps we will need to pay extra money, spend extra time or just not want to bother. Joshua in the middle of the night led his soldiers in a late night march. Decisiveness is important. Those who have been influenced by relativism often go back and forth over decisions, weighing the pluses and minuses for the decision. Those who live in the fear of God make quick decisions when there are moral values at stake.
Joshua’s obedience was characterized by razor cut decisions in favor of what was right. He knew what was right and wrong. He lived by those decisions. In one sense, they were not decisions at all. God had already made those decisions. As a leader he led others in the right path. But for our point, it is important to remember that before great things happen, we must already be in the obedient stage. If you do not consistently practice living a righteous life, how can you expect God to trust you with greater things?
Certainly, we could speak more about this simple right response. So many problems would clear up right away if we only did what God wanted. We didn’t argue. We just did it. (Perhaps it would help to remember that when you do not obey, that you are being rebellious).
As it is, we want to focus more on this second part. It begins in verse 12 where Joshua has already routed the enemy around Gibeon and were fleeing for their lives.
Next > B. Joshua sought the Lord for more (Joshua 10:12-43)