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Sunday, February 17, 2019

posted Feb 17, 2019, 10:33 PM by Site Administrator

O SUN, STAND STILL!

 

Joshua 9:1-12:24

Key Verse 10:12

 

On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel, O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.

 

First, The Gibeonites’ deception (9:1-27). In the previous passage, we learned about how the Israel people were defeated by Ai, and how they destroyed it. When they lost their spirit, but took things for granted, they lost the battle. Some people were killed. But when they repented and picked up zealous spirit and served the conquest with a fearful and trembling heart, following God’s instructions wholeheartedly, they won and destroyed the enemies completely. We must keep such sincerity andwholeheartedness in serving God’s kingdom work; then, we can truly rejoice as we advance God’s kingdom powerfully. After this battle, the conquest went in full scale. 

 

Look at verse 1 of chapter 9. At the news of destruction of Ai, the kingdoms in the southern area called to each other, talked about it, and decided to fight together against Israel. But while this was the trend in the region, the Gibeonites tried a different approach for their survival. Their elders got together and discussed about what they should do so that they might not die. In their eyes, it was futile to fight against Israel, God’s army. Instead, they resolved to a ruse. They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out bagsand old wineskins, cracked and mended. The men put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the men of Israel, We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.

 

The Gibeonites sought refuge in God, not because they loved God, not because they wanted to worship God, but simply they did not want to be judged and destroyed by God; they wanted to survive. We can imagine how wholeheartedly they pursued survival even nationwide. Maybe, after the leaders’ conclusion, they held a nationwide audition to find the best actors, trained them according to the scenario they had made, and with all their costumes and props, they sent them on their mission earnestly hoping for success. They lied a lot; they deceived Israel, God’s army. But amazingly, it seemed that God accepted them; while they were acting out in front of the Israel people, God did not intervene; even after the peace treaty, God did not rebuke the Israelites either. Instead, He let them be woodcutters and water carriers for the altar of the Lord, supporting the priests for the worship of God. Later, when Saul became king, out of zeal for the nation Israel, he killed some of the Gibeonites; at this, God punished Israel by stopping rain for 3 years. (2 Sam 21) This reminds us of what Jesus says, Whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (Jn 6:37) Actually, we were like the Gibeonites. We studied the Bible not because we had genuine interest in God, not because we wanted to worship God or love God, but simply because we realized that hell was real and we didn’t want to go there; instead, we wanted to live; we wanted to go to heaven. And God did not reject us, but accepted us and supported us by sending us his servants who taught us the Bible; God blessed us by giving us his words and showing his love for us. God accepts and blesses those who seek refuge under his wings.

 

Now to the Israel people, their coming was completely unexpected. They’d never thought about making a treaty with anyone or any country, because during this whole time, God’s direction had been utmost clear – destroy everything in Canaan and occupy it. They were fully committed to this mission; all their concern was to fight, destroy and capture. They were like a well-sharpened sword. Then, suddenly, these people who wanted to make a treaty with them appeared! The Israel people must have felt something uneasy about making a treaty with them. These strangers looked somewhat suspicious. So, they said to the Hivites, But perhaps you live near us. How then can we make a treaty with you?When they felt uneasy about entering into a binding contractwith suspicious looking people, they should have taken some time to think about, pray about and wait. They were on the conquest; they did not have to jump into a binding contract right away. But verse 14 reads: The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Instead of asking God and waiting for God’s answer, they checked out the situations and evidences, and drew a conclusion on their own. As a result, they were deceived. They made a treaty of peace with them to let them live.

 

This shows us the importance of prayer. We have always some urgent situations in the job matter, in the family matter, in the relationship matter, in the financial matter; indeed, life is the succession of decision-making situations. When we do not pray, then, we have to make decisions based on the situations and conditions. Sometimes, our own fleshly desires, or worldly desires urge us to make a quick decision and jump into that binding contract. Sometimes, our own ill-emotions such as anger or bitterness or the sense of justice urge us to make a quick decision. This is what our enemy, the devilurges us to do all the time. There is a saying, War is deception. In our spiritual battle, if we are deceived, it means we are defeated. We must not be deceived by our own desires and emotions. Don’t jump into that binding contract right away. Instead, have time to really consider all things. Most of all, pray to God for help and guidance. What happens when you pray? As you come to God and spend time with God, often, God shows you what’s going on really; or, as you spend time with God in prayer, you begin to see things from God’s point of view, then, you can see everything clearly – what is really important and what is not, what you must really do and what you must not do, how things will go if you sign up. Pray in all things, and you will see things in the right way.

 

Three days later, the Israelites realized that they were deceived by the Gibeonites, but in honor of God’s name, they did not destroy them. Instead, they made them wood cutters and water carriers for Israel people and let them live among them. The world is in rebellion against God; the sin of the world has reached its limit and God's judgment has already been announced against the world. The only way of salvation is found in Christ Jesus. Those who fight against God, those who try to save themselves in their own ways will all perish, but those who humbly submit themselves to God's way of salvation will be saved. 

 

Second, O Sun, stand still (10:1-43). Now at the news of how Israel destroyed Ai, and how the Gibeonites made a treaty of peace with Israel, the five kings of the Amorites—Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon—joined forces. They moved up with all their troops and took up positions against Gibeon and attacked it. The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua for help. So, Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including the best fighting men. Now, the nature of the battle had changed. Before, it was against one city or kingdom, but now, the Israel people had to fight against five kingdoms. Joshua was dead serious this time. God knew how Joshua was doing. While Joshua was so concerned about this battle, God visited him and said to him, Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you. God knew that Joshua needed the assurance of victory. 

 

Look at verse 9. When God’s confirmation of victory came to him, Joshua was overjoyed; with renewed strength, he, with his entire army, marched all night, and took the enemies by surprise. All night march shows that he and his army did not sleep that night, but marched. Then, in the morning, they were tired; but they didn't slow down at all. Instead, without taking any rest, they attacked the enemies by surprise. Joshua did not waste an hour in this battle. Then, God threw the enemies in confusion before Israel, who defeated them in a great victory at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As they fled before Israel, God hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites. Strangely, these hailstones only fell on the enemies; they never bothered the Israelites, because God was the perfect sniper. Indeed, it was really exciting to fight together with God. 

 

The battle started at dawn or early in the morning, and it lasted all day long. Israel soldiers killed the enemies all day long, but still, there were many enemies alive, and now it was getting dark; the sun was going down on the west and the moon already showed up in the skyIt seemed that Joshua had to stop the battle because it was getting dark; his soldiers had already done a good job. But when God was giving him the victory, he wanted to complete the task. So what did he do? Look at verse 12. Let’s read this verse together:

 

On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel: O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.

 

O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon. Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and the moon not to move. Naturally, there are 12 hours of day time, and 12 hours of night time. This cycle is set firmly by God. Usually, changing this natural law does not come to our mind; instead, people work around this cycle, doing their own works during daytime, and sleeping during night time. But Joshua didn't go this way, because, when he saw God working for Israel, he wanted to complete the battle; he didn't say, Next time, or Tomorrow. When God was fighting for Israel, it was the best time, and on that day, he wanted to secure the victory. When he had this in mind, simply the night time coming was nothing but a hindrance, obstacle, and he would not allow the night time stop him from winning the victory. So, he shouted and commanded the sun and the moon not to proceed their way any more. He yelled at them, saying, O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the valley of Aijalon. Could the sun hear his voice? Could the moon understand what he was talking about? They were too far from the earth to hear his voice. But Joshua didn't think about such a thing; whether the sun or the moon could hear him or not was not the matter at all; he just commanded them to stop moving - it was the expression of his zeal and passion for God's work that he would not allow anything to stop him from completing God's mission. 

 

In doing God’s work, the lack of time is the common problem we all have. As fulltime employees, or as fulltime students, or as parents, we have so many responsibilities that we are very limited in the matter of time. Usually people go by the situation. There are only 12 hours of day time, and after that, night comes when we cannot work any longer. Nothing can be done in this matter. But Joshua didn’t think that way! That’s what we must learn from Joshua. Because of his passion to complete the task while God was helping him, he told the sun and the moon to stop moving until the job was done completely. When we pick up such zeal and passion for God’s work, we will not be limited by the situation; instead, in any circumstances, even in impossibility, we’d somehow figure out and do God’s work wholeheartedly. When we have such a zealous spirit, we can even command the mountain in the way, You mountain, throw yourself into the Pacific Ocean, and it will obey us, and we will find ourselves doing God’s work freely without any hindrance. Let’s pursue God’s work with real zeal and passion. God seeks such people who serve him in spirit. 

 

At Joshua’s command, the sun and the moon stopped moving for one whole day. At Joshua’s command, the entire solar system halted for one whole day. So, Joshua and Israel soldiers killed all their enemies almost to a man; only a few reached their fortified cities. Meanwhile, the five kings of the Amorites were caught alive. When they were brought to him, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings. So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks. That action was like Tarzan, after killing his arch-enemy, shouting, Ahhhhhhhhhh. Then, Joshua encouraged them. Look at chapter 10, verse 25. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Joshua said to them, Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.

 

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. That’s what God had been telling him all this time during the whole conquest. Now, he understood this message very well. So, he was saying the same thing to the army commanders. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. Indeed, this is God’s message for all God’s people who struggle to serve God’s kingdom work. Why? It is because, only when we do so, we can serve God’s kingdom work continually, and as we do so, God comes to have a chance to intervene and do great things through us. There are many challenging moments, many discouraging moments. Sometimes, it seems that there are so many enemies who attack us. Sometimes, it seems that our campuses are like fortified cities with so many powerful defense weapons such as humanism, materialism, pleasure-seeking life, and heavy school load. Sometimes, we make mistakes and fail miserably. But God’s message for you is this: Do not be afraid, even if the enemies outnumber youand even if they have iron chariots; do not be discouraged,no matter what happens; do not be discouraged even if you make big mistakes. Instead, just be strong and very courageous. When we think about this message of God very carefully, we can see that God has great plans for us and that God is going to intervene into our situation and do great things in and through us. That’s why He asks us to go on continually. Only if we go on continually, God soon will do great things in and through us and grant us great victories. That’s why He keeps encouraging us, saying, Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous.This is God’s message for you and for me today. This is God’s message we teach our sheep today. Soon God will give you great victory. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.  

 

Then, Joshua killed the five kings. After this, he and the entire army attacked the cities in the area one by one, and destroyed them all completely. Thus, all southern area of Canaan was conquered by Joshua and the Israel army in one campaign. Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

 

Third, Northern kingdoms conquered (11:1-12:24).Chapter 11 describes how Joshua and Israel people conquered the northern kingdoms in Canaan. Look at verses 1 through 5. At the news of how Israel people conquered the kingdoms in the southern area, the kings in the northern area were greatly alarmed. So, under the leadership of Jabin king of Hazor, all the kingdom in the northern area, about 20 of them, allied together; they came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots—a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. The Israelite army was already huge with about 600,000. Yet, the description for the northern kingdoms – a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore – suggests that it was much bigger than the Israelite army, maybe, 3 times, or 5 times beggar. All these kings joined forces and made camp together at the Waters of Merom, north of Galilee, to fight against Israel. It was indeed a decisive battle. Again, God understood Joshua’s concern. So, He comforted Joshua, saying, Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel, slain. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.

 

Here, God also gave him a unique instruction, “Hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.” These horses and chariots were advanced weapons in those days. Once they acquired them in the battle, they could use them against their enemies. But God asked them to hamstring the horses and burn the chariots, showing that, in the conquest, they must not rely on such things, but God alone. This is the principle in serving God’s kingdom work. When things do not go as they have expected in serving God’s work, many people think that the reason why they failed is because they have not used the right method. So, they look for the right method, thinking that with it, they will be successful in serving God’s kingdom work. It never works. Eventually, one person turning to God in repentance in Jesus is like that person selling everything he has, give to the poor, and then come to Jesus and follow him. Even if I may persuade someone perfectly with complete logic and reason, even if he understands everything, still it does not mean that he is willing to give up everything, even his life, for Jesus. Jesus confirmed that with man, it is impossible. Only when God works in that person’s heart and life, he or she turns to God in repentance, and lives as Jesus’ disciple. Only God can do his work. So, what method you use is secondary. The only thing is, we just be strong and courageous in doing God’s work, pursuing God’s mission wholeheartedly, entrusting all things in His hands. God wants us to rely on him alone.

 

So Joshua and his whole army came against them suddenly at the Waters of Merom and attacked them, and God gave them into the hand of Israel. They defeated them and pursued them all the way until no survivors were left; they hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots. Then, they attacked all the cities in the northern area, and destroyed themone by one. Thus, Israel conquered the whole land of Canaan. Then, the land had rest from war.

 

At the beginning of the conquest, it seemed that the battle would go on so long as the Israelites captured the land city by city, kingdom by kingdom. But only two battles—the battle of Jericho and the battle of Ai—went that way; then, after those two battles, the war spread throughout the whole region; and in two more major military campaigns, Israel people captured the majority of the land of Canaan. The first two battles were like igniting the fire on dynamite; once it was ignited, soon there was a great explosion that burned the whole area. The five kingdoms of southern area were conquered, and then, all the kingdoms of northern area were conquered, and the job in major area was done. In chapter 12, we see the list of the defeated kings in the land of Canaan – total 33 kings in all - 2 kings in the east of the Jordan and 31 kings in the west of the Jordan. This is how God's kingdom grows. Once the foundation is laid, there will be a great explosion. That’s what we have been praying for. May God establish 200 disciples this year.    

 

How long did it take for Israel to complete the conquest? Look at chapter 11, verse 18. It reads: Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time. The description in the book of Joshua is very short; it sounds like they finished the conquest in about one month. But it was not done in that way. Instead, it took a long time. The Bible scholars say that it took about 7 years. During this whole period of time, Joshua was in the conquest, planning, marching, and fighting, and doing this cycle over and over again. He relentlessly pursued the conquest, going from one city to the next, until the whole Canaan was conquered. What about, then, his family life?He forgot about it. What about his soldiers? They followed him wholeheartedly. What about the Trans-Jordan tribes?They were in the conquest, following Joshua all the time. The other nine and a half tribes, as they came back to Gilgal after the military campaign, at least could see their families, maybe, once a year, or twice a year, or even once every two or three years. But these Trans-Jordan tribes stayed in the military tents all the time during this whole conquest, forgetting about their family life. Indeed, under the leadership of Joshua, all these Israelite soldiers were one in heart, mind and spirit for the conquest. Joshua and the Israelite soldiers served the conquest wholeheartedlyAnd the conquest went very wonderfully. Today, if Joshua were here and serve the campus mission, how would God’s work go through him?I am sure that it would go greatly. Definitely, he would dedicate himself to the mission completely, maybe, staying on the campus all day long and all night long, passionately inviting students to Bible study and teaching them with all his heart and strength. Surely, God will be with him and do mighty works through him. When we think about this, we see that eventually what matters is whether we serve God’s work that way or not – the matter is not the students’ busy schedule, not their desire for success, not some people attacking us, but we serving God’s work with all our heart and strength. Let’s pray that in the year 2019, we may serve God’s work in the same way Joshua served the conquest. Let’s pray that many mighty generals like Joshua may rise among us this year.

 

One Word:Do Not Be Afraid Of Them; I Have Given Them Into Your Hand

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