Joshua Message #20 by Ed Miller
As we come to look in God’s word I remind you and my own heart that in all of the principles of Bible study and with all the helps and commentators and word studies and sermons and all kinds of aids, there is only one indispensable principle, and that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit. This is God’s book and He inspired it and He must reveal it. Only the Lord can reveal the LORD. No human being can reveal the Lord. We thank the LORD that He uses instruments and unworthy instruments. Where would any of us be if He didn’t use unworthy instruments but we praise the LORD that we can come and trust God by the Spirit of God that is indwelling in our hearts to put the spotlight on Jesus again. We need to see the LORD.
Before we pray together I want to quote this verse from Luke 24, the story of Emmaus. Luke 24:45, our risen LORD is speaking, “He opened their understanding, that they might understand the scripture.” This is one of the greatest miracles done after the resurrection by the risen Christ. We can open our Bibles, and I hope we do, but only He can open our understanding, that we might understand the word and see the LORD.
Let’s commit our time to Him and then we’ll pick up where we left off last time. Heavenly Father, we thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit, the One who searches the depths of God and reveals unto us the things concerning our peace and concerning the LORD Jesus. Turn our eyes afresh to Him and we pray by the revelation of Christ that we would be transformed into His image. We know, LORD, that this is a great thing to ask but thou are a great God and we come because Jesus deserves it and we come claiming it in His name. Amen.
Open your Bibles to Joshua 9. We finished our discussion in Joshua from the entering into the land through the second battle for the land, the battle at Ai. We have completed our discussion of chapter 1:1 all the way through chapter 8:29. We did that in only nineteen lessons. I don’t want to review all of that but I’ll bring you back to the big overview of the seven year war, the war for Palestine took seven years. They had to go against thirty one kings and their armies. In that entire seven years there were only thirty six casualties. Don’t read that la, la, la. This is an amazing thing for the people of God. In those day this was hand to hand combat and close quarters. They were fighting with the sword and they did it for seven years against thirty one armies. In that entire seven years God’s people lost thirty six men and that’s all in all of those conflicts. They could have been spared that if they had obeyed the LORD.
Even though there are thirty one different battles for the land of Palestine, the land that pictures Christ, the life of milk and honey, the Holy Spirit was pleased to only give us four war stories. He gives us the details of four battles; three campaigns and four battles. The taking of the land of Palestine was in three campaigns. First of all they took central Palestine and that’s the war against Jericho and the war against Ai. Then the campaign moved south and it was the great battle of Beth-Horan which we’ll look at today in an overview. Then finally there was the northern campaign up at the waters of Merom which LORD willing we’ll pick up in the fall. Only four war stories, even though there were thirty one different conflicts, each of those stories demonstrates a great principle of God. The land is Christ. We enter Christ the way they entered the land. We conquer in Christ the way they conquered in the land. We settle down in the land and find our portion as they did. This is all a picture; a great parable. We begin to live in the land and off the land as they did. It’s all a picture of entering into Christ. Joshua, whose name is Jesus, only Jesus can lead us into Jesus. Only Jesus can lead us into the land.
Joshua, though he is a picture of Jesus, he’s not a picture of Jesus infallible. He’s a picture of Jesus dwelling in us. So, it’s a picture of you and me and picture of Christians. We’re going to see all through this that Joshua is learning along the way. Even though he’s picturing Christ, he has to learn as a channel of Christ and he is making quite a few blunders along the way. He’s bouncing off the walls like we do. But the LORD is very faithful.
Each of these stories demonstrates a principle of victory; four stories, four principles. In those four principles are everything you ever need to know in this who issue of spiritual warfare; everything we need to know of how to have victory is in Joshua and is in Ai and is at the battle of Horan and the water of Merom. So far we have looked at two. I want to review those and then we’ll get to our new material.
The great battle of Jericho illustrates the great truth that it’s the LORD who is the victor and the LORD who does the fighting. The battle is His and not ours. This was illustrated in two ways. #1 In all of those thirty one conflicts in the land, only one time was the ark brought in to lead the way into battle. Wouldn’t you expect the ark to be at every battle because the ark is in the shape of a throne and pictures King Jesus. But only at Jericho was the ark use. The reason for that is that God is laying down the principle and right away He wants us to know that the victory is the LORD’s; King Jesus; it’s the ark marching around the wall. It’s the LORD that brought down the walls.
In that same battle we have another illustration and that was a command, Joshua 6:17, “The city shall be accursed, even it and all that are therein to the LORD. Only Rahab the harlot shall live; she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.” All the spoils in that first battle belonged to the LORD. They were to touch nothing. Everything belonged to the LORD. Then at Ai He said, “You can take some spoil.” By the time we get to chapter 11, God says, “I want to share everything with you.” But you’ve got to start out with the “spoils belong to the victor”. The victor was Jesus and that was Achan’s great sin. He thought it was covetousness. That wasn’t his sin. His sin was trying to steal the glory of the LORD and take spoils that did not belong to him. He was trying to take glory for what only God could do. That’s the first principle. In all spiritual warfare, you need to understand this, it’s the LORD who must fight the battle. The victory belongs to the LORD.
The second principle is illustrated by the battle of Ai. Chapter 7:2, “Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, ‘Go up and view the country.’ And the men went up and viewed the Ai and they returned to Joshua and said unto him, ‘Let not all the people go up but let only about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai. Make not all the people labor thither, for they are but few.’” Jericho teaches us that the battle is the LORD’s. Ai takes the other side. They were self-confident and they said, “God has to take care of Jericho. That’s a big problem but I can handle Ai. That’s just a little thing. I don’t need the LORD. The LORD can sit on the bench for this one and we’ll play out this inning by ourselves.”
I need the LORD for all my Jericho’s and I need the LORD for all my Ai’s. The battle is the LORD’s. There is nothing too little that I can handle. There’s nothing too small that you can handle. We need to understand this, that we’re not bothering the LORD bringing Him in. We’re trusting the LORD. There are no big things with God and there are no little things with the LORD. I need the LORD for Jericho and I need the LORD for Ai. That’s the great lesson of Ai; no confidence in the flesh.
You see right away in those two battles that we’re pretty much on the way to the Millennium in terms of understanding spiritual warfare. The battle is His and it’s not mine. I can’t do it; for anything; big things or little things. We looked at the great parable of Ai last time. Those are the first two principles.
I want you to look at the record and what comes next. Joshua 8:30, “Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal…” The next story has to do with mount Gerazin and mount Ebal; the story of the curse and the story of the blessing. Joshua 8:35, “He wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.” I know that comes next in the record but I also know the fullness of that record is too much for one lesson. I didn’t want to leave you hanging up in the air. I took the liberty that I have and I’m setting that next event aside and, LORD willing, we’ll pick that up in the fall.
I told you there are only four battles. So, we’re going to look now at battle three. We looked at Jericho, we looked at Ai and now the southern campaign, the battle at Beth-Horan. Sometimes you’ll hear this called “the guile of the Gibionites” or “the deceit of the Gibionites”. What I want to do in this lesson… By the way this lesson is also more than one lesson, the Gibionites. What I want to do is sort of tell the overall story in one lesson. I want to give you the big picture first, everything; the deceit, the covenant, the consequences, the miracle of the hail, the sun standing still. I want to tell you the whole thing in one lesson and then after we’re going to look at it twice; once as to the history, this is what happened, and then the spiritual history, how does God look at it. We’ll see how man looked at it and then I want to show you how God looked at it.
Let me make a couple of general observations before I get into the meat of this. First is this, that chapter 9 of Joshua and chapter 10 should always be studied together, at the same time. They are organically linked. Chapter 9 presents a problem. Chapter 10 presents the solution to that problem and that’s why it should be studied together. It’s helpful if we’re going to understand what took place here, to review two commands that God gave His people before they entered the land. One is recorded in Deuteronomy 20:16-17, “Of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destoy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Periizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.” Command #1, you are going into the land. I have been patient for four hundred years. The iniquity of the Amorites is full. You are my executioners. You are going to go in and annihilate everybody. That was one command.
The second command is in Exodus 23:32, and also in other places, “Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their god.” Those two commands tie into this story; kill everybody and make no covenant with them. Deuteronomy 7:2 is a summary, “When the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them.” With that in mind, I want to remind, not only did God’s people know this, but the word of this had spread to the enemy. You remember Rahab and her testimony to the spies. Joshua 2:9, “She said to the men, ‘I know the LORD has given you the land and that your terror has fallen on us and that all the inhabitants of the land think because of you. We’ve heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts did melt. Neither did there remain any more courage in any man because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and in the earth beneath.’”
The Canaanites were terrified. Somehow they got word of that command to annihilate everybody and don’t let anybody live; everything that breathed died. With the invasion of Israel by the power of the LORD into the land, by the crossing over the Jordan River at the floody season, by the taking down of Jericho, by the defeat at Ai, the kings of the south became very nervous because they figured they were next in line and they are terrified. They decide to form an alliance. “Instead of going down one king at a time, why don’t we gather a bunch of kings and we’ll have a better advantage.” Joshua 9:1-2, “it came to pass when all the kings which were on this side of Jordan in the hills, in the valleys and in the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, Perrizite, Hivite, Jebusite heard thereof, they gathered themselves together to fight with Joshua and with Israel with one accord.” You’ve got the picture that the south has heard of these victories and they say, “We’ve got to defend ourselves.” They gather all of those armies in the south; six armies. They know they are next and they need a strong alliance.
There was a nation that was mentioned in that six and they are the Gibionites. The fact is, no matter what they say, they are only about seven or eight miles outside of Ai. They are very close. Chapter 9:7, is what tells us that they are Hivites. These are the Hivites. When we read at first that there are six kings going against Israel, later you are going to see five kings because the Hivites are the Gibionites and they are going to drop out of the battle. We read in chapter 10:2, “They feared greatly because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.” The Gibionites, as far as the record goes, were terrorized and they did not want to be annihilated. They know they are on the path to annihilation. They are terrified. They are under a curse that God has given and they know. They come up with a plan to spare themselves from the annihilation. They would pretend that they don’t belong in the land and they don’t live in the land and they aren’t part of the land of Palestine under the curse of God but they are in some distant far away land.
Their plan was risky. It had to be clever and cunning. Here is what they did. They sent a deputation right into the camp of Israel, right where Joshua was and the elders were gathered, and they weren’t armed. They just came walking and stumbling in. That took Israel off guard a little bit, to see them coming like that. They claimed to be ambassadors from a far country. Here is the record, Joshua 9:4, “they did work wilily and went and made as if they had been ambassadors and took old sacks upon their asses and wine bottles, old and rent and bound up and old shoes and clouted upon their feet and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal and said unto him and to the men of Israel, ‘We be come from a far country; now therefore make ye a league with us.’”
When they said in verse 6, “make a covenant with us,” at that point Joshua and the elders had a check in their heart about that. It’s in verse 7, “The men of Israel said to the Hivites, ‘Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you?’” So, they had a suspicion, “I don’t know. It doesn’t sound right. This might not be true.” I’m not sure the Gibionites, when they saw that suspicion and heard that expression of doubt, that they became very nervous because their story might fall apart. They did two things. #1 They brought the LORD into the picture. Joshua 9:9, “And they said unto him, ‘From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the LORD thy God; for we have heard the fame of him and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon, king of Heshbon, and to Og, king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth.’”
You notice how clever they were. They left out the crossing of the Jordan and they left out the victory at Jericho and they left out the victory at Ai because that was too recent. They’re claiming that they are from a far country and they are just passing through. So, they wouldn’t have heard that new news. This whole thing is a ploy. They didn’t mention those things. They only brought the LORD into the picture because they knew this was a religious people. But they used, also, the evidence of sight, “You don’t believe our story; you can always believe your eyes.” Remember when we did the spies and spies rhymes with eyes and you can’t live by sight? Well, spies also rhymes with lies and now we have the Gibionites here.
They should have remembered this lesson of the spies and not have relied on sight. But once again, verse 11, “Our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us saying, ‘Take victuals with you for the journey and go to meet them and say unto them, “We are your servants; therefore now make a league with us. This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry and it is moldy. And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and behold, they be rent; and these our garments and our shoes are become old.””
God immediately tells us that the problem was not the deceit of Gibion. Here was the real problem, Joshua 9:14, “And the men took of their victuals and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.” That was their problem. They didn’t ask the LORD. By calling on the LORD they would have seen right through the ploy and they could have had insight instead of sight. I know they weren’t thinking spiritually but these men pretended to be pilgrims travelling a hard road and the proof was, “Take a look at our stuff.” Well, Israel had actually been pilgrims and they just travelled forty years through a wilderness. If you want to see a real pilgrim, the Bible says that their feet didn’t swell and their shoes didn’t wear out and their food was always fresh. That’s a real pilgrim. That’s a spiritual pilgrim. Joshua didn’t think of that and the elders didn’t think of that.
Interestingly enough, the name “Gibion”, the name itself means “serpent”. Isn’t that interesting? We speak about the wiles of the Gibionites; sneaky, lying, deceitful, cunning, guile and all that. They were tricked. They tricked God’s people. They fooled God’s people. They believed the lie. It sounded reasonable to them and because they said some kind things and pointed to sight, we read this terrible verse 15, chapter 9, “Joshua made peace with them and made a league with them to let them live and the princes of the congregation swore unto to them.” So, they made an alliance, a promise to them, that they wouldn’t kill them.
Before I continue I want to introduce another fact that changes everything. We tend to be critical when we read the Bible, “How could Israel do that?” and then we look in the mirror and suddenly we realize how they could do that. We quote Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, he is going to reap.” We say that is a command and that’s imperative, “Be not deceived.” If you are deceived, you have disobeyed God. 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit; try the spirits, whether they are of God. Many false prophets have gone out into the world.” We know there is no excuse to read verse 14, “The men took of their victuals and asked not council of the LORD.”
That’s all true but now I want to add a possible scenario that was suggested to me, actually by Judy. Thank you, Judy. We were meditating on this passage and I deeply appreciate the insight she brought to the conversation. It’s based on two facts. I told you that I jumped over the story of the blessing and the curse, Ebol and Gerazim. You might know some of the details of that but just before Gibion, the commands of God and the curses of God were read, one from one mountain and one from another and they would hear it and say, “Amen,” and they would hear that and say, “Amen.” They amended the curses and they amended the promises. In other words, they had just promised the LORD, “We will do Your will and we will obey You and we’ll accept any consequence that You give if we refuse to obey You.”
Hold that a moment. They want to obey the LORD. Tie that in with this passage from Deuteronomy 20:10, “When you come nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace and open unto thee, then it shall be that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it.” Verse 15, “Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.” “Cities that are very far off.” In other words, God has given a command that if there is a people from a very far city, not of this group, not of the Canaanites, not of Palestine, and they come and they want peace, if you are going to obey the LORD, you’ve got to make an alliance with them. They have amnesty. They become your servants but you had to offer them peace.
You notice how often this delegation called attention to the far country, “We’re from a far country.” Joshua 9:6, “They went to Joshua into the camp at Gilgal and said unto him and then men of Israel, ‘We be from a far country. Now make a league with us.’” Joshua 9:9, “They said unto him, ‘From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the LORD thy God.’” Joshua 9:13, “And these bottles of wine which we filled were new and, behold, they be rent; and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey.”
Israel was deceived. They fell for it but it wasn’t a rebellion that is, “I don’t care what God says. I’m going to do my own thing.” There are some people that say, “I know what God says about marrying unsaved people, but I don’t care. I’m just going to marry that person.” That’s not their heart. Is it possible when the Gibionites said, “We are from a very far country,” and they had just amended all the commands of God, “We are going to obey the LORD,” is it possible that Joshua and the elders called to mind Deuteronomy 20:15, “Thus shall you do to the cities which are very far off.” It’s true they were deceived. There is no question they are to be blamed. They didn’t seek the counsel of the LORD. It’s no question that they are living by sight. They didn’t follow the check, that early suspicion. Is it possible that their motive was, “I just want to obey the LORD.” Here is an amazing thing. “I want to obey the LORD and I want to do the right thing. And God said that if a nation comes from a far country…” They got tricked into believing that but, “if a nation comes from a far country, we’ve got to make peace with them. We’ve got to give them an alliance.” And perhaps they were deceived and this is what makes it even more subtle, into thinking that they were doing the will of God, thinking that they were obeying the LORD.
I’m not suggesting that the Gibionites knew this when they said “far country”. My guess is that they didn’t know that. But I’m sure Joshua knew and I’m sure the elders of Israel knew and I wonder if that was part of the decision and why they made it so quickly. I know in my own life and I’m not trying to justify what they did, if I think I have a word from God, “I have this word,” you aren’t going to talk me out of it, “I have this word.” Is it logical that I would seek the counsel of the LORD when I have a word? The word is the counsel. I probably wouldn’t seek the counsel of the LORD. I’m not saying that’s what happened. I’m just thanking the LORD for that possibility because it puts a little twist and changes everything.
If at Ai they trusted the flesh, being self-confident, I wonder here if, by not seeking the counsel of the LORD…. God doesn’t say to not use your understanding. He said to not lean on it. Don’t lean on your own understanding. I’m wondering if they understood, “I’m doing the will of God,” when in reality they didn’t seek Him and they weren’t. This story focuses on the truth that now God introduces a new thing. He hinted at it with Achan. But now He spells it out, “There is an enemy in the camp.” See, Jericho was an enemy out there. And Ai was an enemy out there. But now there is an enemy in the camp.
As I understand it, the enemy in the camp is not Gibion. That’s not the enemy in the camp. At first glance you would say, “There’s the enemy that’s in the camp.” There is an enemy in the camp, but it’s not Gibion. The enemy in the camp is Joshua, is the elders of Israel, the people of God. Let’s bring it here, today. I’ll tell you the enemy in my camp. His name is Ed Miller. That’s the enemy in the camp. It’s someone who dares to make a decision believing they are doing the will of God, without consulting the LORD about that. That became the enemy in the camp. Therefore, they got involved in an ill-advised alliance with an enemy. Gibion is a picture but they are not the enemy. Gibion is the consequence. It’s the result of that decision. In other words, I’m the enemy in the camp and when I make a decision apart from the counsel of the LORD, I’m stuck with Gibeon and I’ve got to live with that all of my days.
I said in chapter 9 that there is a problem. What’s the problem? The problem is me making a decision apart from the counsel of the LORD, believing I’m doing the will of God and then ending up in a situation that I can’t get out of and I’ve got to live with it and I’ve got to abide by it. That’s the problem that is laid out here in chapter 9. Jeremiah 17:9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked. Who can know it? The LORD searches the heart. I try the spirits, even to give every man according to his ways and according to his deeds.”
The Gibionites deceived them. There is no question about that but so did their hearts. Our hearts are deceitful. They not only deceive but they are easily deceived. I won’t prove it to you now but I could and maybe in the fall we’ll look it up, but three hundred and fifty years later this same covenant comes up in the days of King Saul. King Saul said, “What are these Gibionites doing in our camp? They aren’t Jews. Let’s kill them.” He paid a heavy price three hundred and fifty years later. All I’m trying to say is that God takes you at your word and when you make a promises and you get into a situation, you have to live with it and it’s not very pleasant. I’m glad for chapter 10 because it gives the solution to that problem. That’s why we want to look at that.
I’m not going to revisit the idea of making covenants because we did that in Judges when we discussed Jeptha. So, I won’t get into that now. But God holds us to our word and there are consequences for decisions. If you make a choice, you’ve got to live with it. What you sow you reap. Actually, that’s not true because you actually reap the harvest of what you sow. If you sow a seed you reap a field. The prophet says, “You sow the wind you reap the whirlwind,” and so on.
We are going to follow through looking at the Gibionites as the consequences of a decision made in good faith by someone who believes they are obeying the LORD but fail to seek the counsel of the LORD. Before I continue, is it possible (I don’t want to be wise beyond what is written), that in the great sovereignty of God that the Gibionites were a nation of Rahabs? Is it possible that they were really seeking the LORD and like Rahab, the gentile, God spared them? Clearly they knew they were lost and that they were going to be annihilated. Clearly they knew about the LORD and about His power to deliver. Clearly, they said, “We’ve come to submit to Him.” And never in the record again do you find the Gibionites giving anyone any trouble. I’m not sure if they were a nation of Gibionites.
Joshua didn’t ask the counsel of the LORD. Let’s assume he did. Is it possible that the LORD would say, “Spare them, like you did Rahab. They are seeking Me.” We just assume that if they sought the counsel of the LORD, He would say, “Annihilate them.” Maybe He wouldn’t. Maybe there is a Ruth or a Moabitess there. Maybe these are some of the mixed multitude coming out of Egypt. I don’t know and I can’t answer that. Like I said, I don’t want to be wise beyond what is written, but the possibility… God has a heart for the heathen and I think any group or individual that repented would have been spared.
When I introduced today’s lesson, I said that chapter 9 presents a problem and chapter 10 has the solution to that problem. Let me state the problem again. I think you know it but let me state it again. The problem is me and you and any Christian making a decision, thinking they are doing the right thing, thinking they are obeying the LORD and trying to please the LORD but because they didn’t respond to the check. Boy, be sensitive when the LORD checks your heart.
Joshua 9:7, “The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Peradventure, ye dwell among us, how shall we make a league with you?” When you are seeking the LORD and you lose your peace, when you have a doubt and when a question rises in your heart, then run to the LORD and make sure you ask the LORD about that. Otherwise, you are going to end up in a covenant with consequences that you are not going to like and you can’t escape.
I had a situation in my own life where I made a covenant with consequences I couldn’t away from and I blew it by not seeking the LORD. I’ve met others, “I got married and I was deceived. I thought that person was so and so and now I want to get out of that.” Or, “I had this child out of wedlock and I’ve got to live with it,” and all that kind of thing. “I was deceived into getting into this business deal. I thought it was God’s will,” or, “This investment and now I’m suffering,” and so on. When I got into my own situation I thought that my heart was right. Was God going to forsake me? Is there a way out? What can I expect from the LORD? Chapter 10 tells us.
I’d like to take chapter 10 and since it’s only an overview, I want to take five facts from chapter 10. I suggest that each of those facts has a great principle and illustrates a great truth of God on how God always deals with those who are in this situation. May God help us! The background again to all of this is verse 4, “Come up unto me and help me that we may smite Gibeon; for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.” The five kings that wanted to go against Israel are now angry because one of their own had turned coat and had become traitors. Now they are going to attack Gibeon, not Israel. I speak as a fool. If that were me I would have said, “Oh good. I’m out of the covenant. Let them take care of them and they are gone.” But he was serious about making a covenant with the Lord.
Anyway, Joshua 10:6, “The men of Gibion sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, ‘Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us.” And not Joshua is bound by a covenant and he has got to live with the consequences. The revelation of the LORD is revealed in these five ways.
Fact #1, Joshua 10:7-8, “Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and all the mighty men of valor and the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Fear them not. I’ve delivered them into thy hand. There shall not a man of them stand before thee.’” I’ll give you the principle but don’t read this la, la, la. The principle is, when I make that kind of blunder, God will give me a word. I call attention to that because, remember that in the situation with Ai, Joshua 7:12, “Neither will I be with you anymore.” You see, the motive of the heart was different there. This is a different heart. Their hearts are in a different place. At Ai God said, “You are on your own. You’ll fight your battle. I’m the LORD of host with the drawn sword and I put it back in my sheath. Go fight your own battles.” But here, right away and right at the beginning, God says, “I’m still with you and I’m still here. I’m going to give you victory. I haven’t departed. I haven’t abandoned you. I will fight for you.”
When I blow it, intending to obey Him, He doesn’t leave me. He doesn’t forsake me. He gives me a word that He’s going to be with me. But when you get in a situation like that, which I’ve been in, making a decision with consequences that won’t go away, sometimes hearing a word, somebody telling you, “God is still with you,” is not enough, really. It should be enough and we should take it by faith but sometimes it’s not. So, He does something else.
Joshua 10:11, He gives a confirmation to that word, “It came to pass as they fled before Israel and were going down to Bethoron, that the LORD cast great stones from heaven upon them, unto Azekah and they died. There were more that died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.”
This past week I heard on the news about the recent storms and outbreak of tornadoes and all, that there was a place in Oklahoma that had hail the size of baseballs and after it was over, it was one foot deep. Imagine that! We just sort of read this… Try to picture this. Joshua and his men are in hand to hand combat in close quarters. They are fighting in a war and suddenly a hailstorm comes. Not one Israelite soldier was hit with hail. Can you imagine being in a storm in close quarters fighting hand to hand in the forest and going down the mountain with trees all around and all of a sudden… Lillian pictures it like God throwing these hailstones. I think it was a hailstorm and I think God did this mighty miracle because it’s one thing to say, “I’m with you. I will not forsake you.” But I’ll tell you, brothers and sisters, when you are standing in the middle of a hailstorm and everybody is going down and you are still standing, you’ve got confirmation to that word that God is with you. That is a tremendous thing. How encouraging must have been for Joshua and for his men to see this. “We made a stupid alliance and now we’re in this bloody war and we’ve got to live with it and these are the consequences but God said that He’ll fight for us. God is proving it with all of these marvelous miracles.
There’s a third fact with a great principle. It’s illustrated in the great miracle of the sun standing still. Joshua 10:12, “Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel. He said in the sight of Israel, ‘Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon. And now moon in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still and the moon stayed until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher,” (I’ll pick that up in the fall). “So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and hastened not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.”
Before I give you the principle, let me say a word about the miracle. This is one of the greatest miracles in the Old Testament. I think it’s even better than Balaam’s talking donkey and Jonah’s fish. This is an amazing thing. Many say that it wasn’t a miracle at all. They call it “luming”. In other word, that it was just optical illusion, that the sun looked like it went down but the atmosphere was like a mirror. They just saw as if it had gone down. Others say that this is just poetry. That’s what the book of Asher is and it’s just graphic language. “The sun went down,” that just means he got accomplished two days’ work in one day. Don’t believe that kind of stuff.
Those who hold it to be a miracle divide up into two groups. Some say that God just tipped the earth on its axis just a few degrees and that caused a miracle. Others, and I’m in this group, say that God stopped the rotation of the earth in it’s orbit, affecting all the laws of the whole universe. God stopped everything. I know these two things. #1 God is not a prisoner in His own universe. I know that. No physical law can be stronger than the One who created that law. God can do whatever He wants because His laws are not based on His character. They aren’t moral. His physical laws are based on His pleasure and He can change His pleasure at any time. If you don’t believe that, ask the three Hebrews, “Does fire burn?” And they’ll say, “God changed His mind about that.” Or, “Peter, is it possible to walk on water?” “Well, God changed His mind about that.” “Paul, is it possible to be raptured into the third heaven and come back to earth?” “Well, God changed His mind about that.” “Lazarus, can you come forth after you’ve died?” God is not in bondage to those laws. “Ax head, can you float? Can you swim?” Well, God can change those laws because it’s based on His pleasure. I have no problem with the mighty miracle that God made the sun stand still for a whole day. According to verse 14, “There was no day like it before or after.”
I know the principle, we’re going to get to the big principle, but God worked a mighty miracle to prolong daylight. That’s what He did at that time. Joshua was winning and the sun was starting to go down. Joshua didn’t want to fight in the dark and he didn’t want the enemy to escape. He said, “Sun, stand still in the sky.” And it actually says that he addressed the LORD when he said that.
I remember being in the shoes of Joshua. I already told you about that I made a decision. It was on Christian service. I wanted to please the LORD, so I came up with a big program. After many tears and thousands of dollars later, because I hadn’t consulted the LORD, the LORD started doing many miracles for me. I thought after that blunder that He was going to put me on a shelf and that I was done and it was over. Instead, I saw people coming to Christ and I saw God doing wonderful things and hail falling all around. In my heart I said, “LORD, I don’t ever want this to end, this feeling, this peace, this wonder, this day of miracles.” I believe that’s what is happening here in Joshua 10:12, “He spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites. He said in the sight of Israel, ‘Sun, stand still.’ And God answered that prayer and God prolonged the day.
At this point I want to tell you a comical story. I was meditating on this in the dark, like I usually am, and I was at a men’s conference and I asked the brothers to meditate on this and if they got any light to email me. One brother sent me a YouTube from a guy. I’ve lost it. I wish I knew who it was. I don’t even know who sent me the email. This preacher was preaching on this story and he gave a different kind of twist. Joshua saying, “Sun, stand still,” and all of a sudden the whole extra day and he’s fighting and fighting and he said, “I can’t wait to get home and tell my wife. She’ll be so excited.” And he comes home and he’s so excited to see her and she comes stumbling out the door, “Ahhhhhh, I’m so glad you are home. The kids were going crazy. I thought this day would never end.” I guess everything is relative. The early worm gets eaten.
What can I expect when I make a decision without consulting the LORD? I can expect the word and I can expect confirmation of the word. And here is the principle. I can expect a miracle day, a day of grace, a day I don’t deserve. After making such a decision without seeking His counsel, I would expect God to throw me away and say that it’s over. But it’s not over. Now God introduces a brand new miracle day, a day of grace, which continues on and on. What hope is there if you make such a blunder? You have His word and you have His confirmation and you have His miracle day, a day of grace, a day that we don’t deserve. So, we find that we’re still alive to fight another day.
There’s a fourth fact. Let me give these other principles and we’ll be done. Joshua 9:21, “The princes said unto them, ‘Let them live but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water under the congregation as the princes had promised them.’” Verse 23, “Now, therefore, you are cursed and there shall be none of you freed from being bondsmen and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of God.” Once again this fact, that the consequences, the Gibionites became servants, drawers of water, hewers of wood. For what? The answer is that the water was for the laver and the wood was for the altar and I promise you, the consequence of an ill-advised decision will constantly take you to the cross. That’s their ministry. God actually turned the consequences of such a decision into servants to keep you running to the cross and keep you at the foot of the cross. Even the consequence, the curse, is turned into a blessing. We get a word, a confirmation, we get a day of grace, we get the consequences turned around serving us and then finally in chapter 10:16-18, “These five kings fled and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.”
I’m going to jump to verse 22, “Then said Joshua, ‘Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out unto me from the cave.’ And they did so and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave and the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish and the king of Eglon. And it came to pass when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him,’ (which represented, by the way, all the people), ‘come near and put your feet on the necks of these kings.’ They came near and put their feet on the necks of them.”
What was the purpose of God taking the kings and making them lay down and the leaders putting their feet on the necks of those kings? Was it to humble the enemy? Was it to embarrass the enemy? Was it to have those who were victors now gloat in the victory? The answer is, “No, that is not our God. That is not His heart.” Here is the reason, and God tells us in verse 25, “Joshua said to them, ‘Fear not nor be dismayed. Be strong and of good courage, thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” God not only gives a word and a confirmation and a day of grace and turns the bad into good to serve you and keep you coming to the cross, but He also gives you hope for the future. He says, “This is My promise, that you can now go on. It’s not over and you are not on a shelf. I don’t have a shelf and if you now come to Me and believe and keep the covenant, I’m going to turn it all around for good.”
I’m the enemy in the camp. I think I’m obeying God but I don’t seek His face. I end up with consequences that I’ve got to live with. I can’t run away from them but now God in His grace… The solution is so precious. God gives me a word and He is still with me. God proves it over and over again by miracle after miracle. He gives me a day that I never expected and I don’t deserve; a day of grace, a miracle day. He turns all of my consequences into ministry. He actually serves me and then He gives me that word of hope.
We’ll close this lesson and I’ll quote two more verses. Here’s how far the promise goes. Romans 16:20, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” That’s the end of the war. It’s coming. Joshua 9:14, “The men took their victuals because they asked not counsel of the Lord.” When you get into that position, here’s my prayer and I hope it’s yours, Psalm 72:22-24, “So foolish was I and ignorant. I was as a beast before Thee. Nevertheless, I’m continually with Thee. Thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shall guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Being guided by His counsel.
We’ll close there. Father, thank You for Your word, not what we think it might mean but all that You know it means. Will you work that in our heart? Now, LORD, guide us in our fellowship and I thank You for these dear saints and I just ask you, LORD, to use Your provision of food to strengthen us and we pray that we’d have good fellowship together and we ask You to receive our thanks. In Jesus’ matchless name. Amen.