Gibeon has angered its neighbors because they made a pact with Israel. Five of the kings make a pact to destroy Gibeon before they can become a help to Israel.
You have probably heard the saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” In our story it is also true that “The friend of my enemy is my enemy.”
Gibeon was at peace with its neighbors until they made a pact with Israel. It was a great city. We are told it was bigger than Ai but we don’t know if it was bigger than Jericho. It was substantial enough that its neighbors feared what it could add to Israel. So the neighbors decided to remove them from the equation.
The problem with this is the pact was already made. If the other kings would have attacked before Gibeon did their play acting they probably would have succeeded. But Israel had covenanted a mutual protection agreement. When someone attacked one of them they were actually going to have to fight both of them.
The kings didn’t realize that Gibeon wasn’t adding to Israel’s power. Israel had everything they needed already because they had God on their side. Taking out Gibeon was NOT going to set Israel back. Instead, messing with Gibeon brought their attacker’s demise earlier than would have normally happened.
Joshua and the camp of Israel were still at Gilgal. It took three days for the message to get to them about Gibeon’s trouble. It took more time for Joshua and his men to get in place to help Gibeon.
When Joshua came to this battle he knew the Lord was on their side. Yes, Israel had made a mess of things by entering into this agreement in the first place. But God honored their word and was with them because they kept their word in spite of the difficulties it posed. “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you” (verse 8b).
Did you notice that it wasn’t Israel’s prowess with a sword that turned this battle? “And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel” (verse 10a). God didn’t stop there either! “As they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from Heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hail-stones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword” (verse 11). With that kind of help the enemy didn’t stand a chance!
Israel didn’t go into this battle with the attitude that God would do all the ‘heavy lifting’. Joshua marched his men ALL NIGHT so they could get to Gibeon as early as possible. He surprised the adversaries who didn’t expect reinforcements for another two days. Israel also didn’t let up as they chased the attacking forces. They kept after them until ALL was accomplished.
Another of God’s miracle/battle help came at Joshua’s request. “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the valley of Aijalon” (verse 12b). And the sun and moon obeyed by the hand of God. They stayed in their places for “about a whole day” (verse 13b).
This puts Israel’s fighting forces in motion for:
Day 1 Leaving Gilgal
Night 1 On the march
Day 2 Arrive at Gibeon
Night 2 Still fighting but it is daytime
Day 3 Concludes the fighting with victory, including hanging the five kings
Night 3 Made camp and prepared for their next step in their campaign
God gave Israel’s men a personal miracle! He gave each of them strength to not only stay awake through three days but to have the energy and clear headedness to fight this battle and EVERY ONE OF THEM survived! But He isn’t done with Israel yet. They will follow this victory with DAYS of battle that will not end until they have cleaned house in this area. God motivates them with this victory and they keep going! We will look at the rest of this battle continuation the next time we meet.
I have never had to keep going for as long as Israel did but I have had times where God has given me the ability to act beyond what I would normally have. He has given me the ability to ‘fight on’ when my strength has failed. Sometimes it is keeping me awake while I’m driving. Sometimes it’s giving me a new approach to a problem I have been struggling with. Sometimes it’s giving me a heart of love where my own has failed. Whatever it is He gives me, it ALWAYS shows up when I trust Him and when I need it most. And it is always RIGHT ON TIME. He is never early and He is never late. He knows exactly what we need for every battle we face. And He is faithful throughout each one of them.
Father God, I haven’t seen ‘sun stopping’ miracles in my life but I have seen Your hands in action enough to KNOW that You STILL do miracles. Thank You for each of them You have worked in my life! They are much easier to see looking back than in the moment sometimes but none the less awesome. I wonder what Israel’s soldiers thought after they looked back and counted up the hours they had been in action. From their continued campaign I’m assuming it gave them even more confidence in You. It is easier to keep going after success than it is to start over again after taking a break.
Thank You Holy Spirit for showing me that it’s the same with my journaling and reading my bible. The exciting stories keep me going when I begin to feel tired. Thank You for all Your encouragement. I need it every day. Keep me ever moving forward in our relationship.